Instances of malpractice could be curbed if the responsibility of collecting answer sheets from exam centres is transferred from the University of Mumbai (MU) to the exam centres, Vice-Chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh said on Thursday. Currently, the university is responsible for collecting the answersheets from exam centres.
“The answersheets of outstation colleges take at least two-three days to reach the Examination House at Kalina, leaving room for tampering,” said Deshmukh, after eight officials of MU were caught by the Bhandup police on May 21 for smuggling engineering exam answer sheets out of the examination centre. University registrar M A Khan said, “When we started online assessment in 2013, we had decided that all answer sheets must be sealed at the exam centres and should reach the scanning section of the Examination House within 24 hours of the exam.”
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However, the mandate has not been implemented properly. The seal, which is supposed to be opened by the scanning centre, is sometimes broken during transit, Khan said. “The university needs to monitor the time the answer sheets take from the moment they were dispatched from the exam centre to the time they reach the scanning section,” said Khan. Deshmukh said the university’s staff crunch could also be the reason behind the security lapse. While the number of colleges affiliated to the university has increased from 245 in 1985 to the current 748, only eight new positions have been approved for non-teaching employees since then.
“We had 1,311 non-teaching posts in 1985 and now we have 1,319 of which 265 are lying vacant,” said Deshmukh at a press conference. Deshmukh said students found guilty will face strict action from the university, a day after the university submitted names of 96 students to the Bhandup police. Summons will now be issued to the students.
The names were from at least 20 examination centres, most of which are from Navi Mumbai, Deshmukh said.
While the university’s management council is awaiting a report from the police, as an immediate measure it has decided to improve the security system of the Examination House at Kalina, the Vice-Chancellor said.
Following the police inquiry, the management council has decided to hand over the case to the Crime Investigation Department (CID). The recently-formed fact-finding committee and the Board of Examination have suggested the installation of CCTV cameras in the Examination House. “Physical frisking of all staffers, including senior officials, is of utmost importance,” said Deshmukh. Currently, the Examination House has 20 CCTV cameras in one of its two buildings spread across an area of 1,83,000 sq ft. Among other measures, the university has planned to set up control rooms and use intrusion-detection software, he said. “We have also asked Vinay Rathod, the DCP of Zone 7, to set up a committee to look into the security system of the entire university,” said Deshmukh.
He said the university’s priority is to declare the semester results without delay. The police, meanwhile, has put the total number of answer sheets slipped out at 131. “The accused had not maintained a list of answer sheets they took out. A police team visited the University campus today and tabulated the number of answer sheets that have been tampered with,” said a senior police official. The police has also traced Deepak Gamre, a clerk employed at the University’s Kalina campus on a temporary basis, as one of the two absconding accused. The police official said that Gamre had been sneaking out answer sheets of the Maths I, Maths II, Applied Maths I and Mechanical Engineering exams with the help of another clerk, Siddhesh Jadhav, who was arrested last week.
“Gamre also acted as an agent and passed on answer sheets to students. We have issued summons to him,” said the officer.