THE HUMAN Resource Development Ministry has approached the CBI to probe alleged irregularities in the Class X and XII results announced by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) this year. The unprecedented move was prompted by a letter by the NIOS chairman Chandra B Sharma to the ministry led by Prakash Javadekar last month. As first reported in The Indian Express on September 9, Sharma on August 22 recommended an investigation by vigilance agencies after a preliminary inquiry found that more than 1,000 candidates from Madhya Pradesh had passed the examination although they had not appeared for it.
The ministry has accepted the recommendation and is learnt to have written to the CBI this week. It is unclear if the agency will accept the ministry’s request. If it does, it will be the first CBI inquiry into the functioning of the NIOS, an autonomous institution under the HRD Ministry and the largest open school board in the world. This year, more than 2 lakh candidates were believed to have appeared for the secondary and senior secondary-level examinations in March-April.
When contacted by The Indian Express on Wednesday, Sharma did not wish to comment on the development. “I can’t say anything as I have no official intimation about this,” he said. Last week, he had confirmed recommending an investigation into the serious irregularities found across three NIOS examination centres in Madhya Pradesh — Ratlam, Umaria and Sehore.
The board had set up a three-member inquiry committee in the last week of June to look into complaints of corruption from Madhya Pradesh, a state that was rocked by allegations of corruption in the Vyapam exam scam. Simultaneously, the NIOS also withdrew the results of over 1,000 students suspected to have skipped the exam. The report of the inquiry committee found that 1,200 candidates from the state were absent on the day of the exam but were declared as having passed.
Out of the 693 candidates who were supposed to sit for the exam in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Sagod, only 19 appeared. When the results were declared, everybody was shown as having passed. Similarly, 351 candidates meant to take the exam at the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Sehore, and 175 candidates at a Navodaya Vidyalaya in Umaria, were absent, but passed the exam. The matter was raised by the Aam Aadmi Party’s unit in Madhya Pradesh last week.
According to government sources, the CBI inquiry may not be limited to Madhya Pradesh as the answerscripts of candidates registered to appear at Ratlam, Umbria and Sehore were evaluated in Guwahati.