A five-month-long probe by the police into the alleged re-evaluation malpractices in the University of Pune has concluded recently and a chargesheet is to be filed shortly. Police are,however,saying the scope of their investigation never went beyond the list of 21 students that they had received,as the university administration,on its own,never launched a probe into the 60,000-odd answersheets that had undergone re-evaluation per semester.
The 21 students included 18 foreigners and three Indians.
In October 2012,investigation by the Cantonment police into a racket of dummy candidates at some private colleges had revealed that the suspects arrested were also involved in another racket of fraudulently passing students who failed in exams,by facilitating an increase in their marks during re-evaluation of answersheets of the previous semester.
After the case was handed over to the Chatushrungi police,10 persons,including seven university staffers and the three Indian students,were arrested. The arrested staffers included a member of the fact-finding committee appointed by the university to inquire into the allegations,the head and another employee of the revaluation section and a senior clerk. Police have till now not been able to trace the 18 foreign students. A complaint in this regard was registered after a fact-finding committee headed by retired ACP Sharad Awasthi submitted its report.
Assistant police inspector Mahesh Bolkotgi,who is investigating the case,said,Our probe was limited to the 21 students,as the university authorities had approached us only with those exam seat numbers. We have finished gathering evidence and recording statements in connection with the case. We will soon file the chargesheet in the case.
A senior police officer said: It is now clear that the marks were fraudulently increased at the data entry level. That means there is a difference in the marks given by the re-evaluator and those updated in the university records. For each semester,about 60,000 students apply for re-evaluation. There is enough scope to doubt that malpractices have taken place in case of others too. It is really difficult to understand why the university has never looked into the other applications that had come for re-evaluation. The university can,on its own,initiate a probe. We cannot do this because all the answersheets are in possession of the university.
Another officer said: As a first step,the university administration can identify streams to which the suspects had access for data entry and check whether there are any differences between the entered marks and those on the papers. The university claims that steps have been taken to reform the examination system. But unless the past malpractices are unearthed,reforms will not serve the purpose.
Speaking to Newsline,Vice-Chancellor W N Gade said: We had set up a fact-finding committee in this case. Our complaint was based on the committees report. If police ask us to take steps,we will consider the suggestion.
Retired ACP Awasthi said: Polices job is to probe into the facts provided to them. They do not have resources to look into all other thousands of re-evaluation applications. It is not their job to look into such internal data of the university,as they have no complaint registered in those matters. Our fact-finding committee did not have investigative powers so we could not probe beyond the numbers that had come from the Cantonment police.
18 Foreign students still untraceable
Chatushrungi police have not been able to trace any of the 18 foreign students whose marks were fraudulently increased. It had come to light that the suspects had mostly tapped foreign students,as many of them were ready to pay higher amounts of money.
October 9,2012: A team of Crime Branch officials and Cantonment police arrests Gaus Shabbir Shaikh (40) and Salim Majid Shaikh (42) for operating a dummy candidate racket in Poona College. Police also arrest one Farid Parvez Sayyad (23) for appearing as a dummy student in place of another BCom student.
October 16,2012: Police probing the dummy student racket stumble upon an alleged revaluation racket under which students who failed in different subjects were allegedly passed by fraudulently increasing their marks during the revaluation process in lieu of money.
October 16,2012: Vice-Chancellor W N Gade appoints a three-member fact-finding committee to probe the matter
December 14,2012: The fact-finding committee submits report to the V-C,naming three junior clerks with the examination department
December 15,2012 : University suspends the clerks,they go missing
January 8,2013: Three clerks Ashok Ranavde,Ramesh Shelar and Chetan Parbhane surrender
January 13,2013: Four more UoP staffers,including assistant registrar of examinations Rajendra Pandit who was a member of the fact-finding committee,arrested. Three students arrested too. All students and staffers are currently out on bail.