Investigations into a jobs-for-cash racket in the Assam Public Service Commission, which had allegedly taken place during the previous Congress regime, have taken a new turn with the probe team seizing the answer-scripts of all 241 candidates selected in 2015, besides those of 180 selected in 2016. The police have also summoned 25 officers of the Assam Civil Service, Assam Police Service and other services who had got jobs through the APSC in 2015, allegedly with unfair means including bribery. The 25 officers have been directed to appear before the investigating team on Friday.
Assam DGP Mukesh Sahay described the investigation as having entered the fourth stage. “We arrested APSC chairman Rakesh Kumar Paul, two members and a few officers in the first step [last November]. The state government has moved the President for removal of Paul as chairman in the second step. In the third step, we detected at least three cases where the investigating team seized two sets of answer-scripts for three candidates, each selected by the APSC in 2015. The latest stage is that we have summoned 25 officers against whom we have a lot of doubt regarding the process through which they got selected,” Sahay said.
The Dibrugarh police, who are conducting the investigations under the leadership of Additional SP Surjeet Singh Panesar, have so far arrested 11 persons in connection with the scandal. These include APSC chairman Paul, members Basanta Kumar Doley and Samedur Rahman, controller of examinations Pabitra Kaibarta, and ACS officers Bhaskarjyoti Dutta Das, Amit Sarma and Bhaskarjyoti Dev Sarma. Two other persons — the APSC chairman’s younger brother Rajib Kumar Paul and close aide Sudip Das — have been declared absconders.
DGP Sahay clarified that though the police have seized the answer-scripts of all 241 officers selected in 2015 as well as 180 selected in 2016, it was not that all of them were doubtful cases. “We want to conduct a foolproof inquiry, and have thus kept all the answer-scripts in safe custody so that there is no tampering while we are making a thorough check of the 25 cases in hand,” he said. Based on investigations so far, police sources said they have found that a number of candidates who had taken the written examinations had later written it again, the second venue being a printing press owned by chairman Paul’s brother. They said they have found that a fresh set of answer-scripts was printed in the to help certain candidates.
Moreover, DGP Sahay said, several of the answer-scripts either had forged signatures of the invigilator, or had signatures of invigilators who were not on duty on that particular date. “In some other cases, we have serious doubts about the handwriting of the candidates,” Sahay said. Meanwhile, the President has made a reference to the Supreme Court on the Assam government’s petition for the removal of Rakesh Kumar Paul as APSC chairman. Paul, who was arrested on November 4, was suspended by the state government on November 26. Official sources said the matter would now be viewed by the Supreme Court, after which it would be reverted to the President’s office with an opinion.
“That the President has made a reference to the Supreme Court also means that the constitutional head of the country is satisfied that a prima facie case has been made out against the APSC chairman,” said Bijan Mahajan, special public prosecutor. Rakesh Paul was serving as a notary in a district court when he was appointed a member of the APSC by the Congress government in 2008. Elevated as chairman in 2013, Paul threw a challenge at Sarbananda Sonowal within a month of the latter taking over as chief minister. Sonowal had called for the APSC to ensure fair selection of candidates, when Paul hit back saying the chief minister had no authority to question or direct the APSC chief.