Updated: January 12, 2022 7:14:59 am
The marks scored by as many as 1,120 candidates of Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) of 2018 and 2020 were increased by tampering with the evaluation process, an investigation has revealed.
The investigation is also linked to a probe into a slew of malpractices in state government exams. Starting with the probe into a paper leak in the recruitment process of Group D employees in the Health Department in November last year, the Cyber Cell of Pune City Police has unearthed a question paper leak in MHADA recruitment, malpractices in the TETs of 2020 and 2018, and a paper leak in the Group C recruitment process of the Health Department.
Till now, these five probes have led to 36 arrests, including those of senior government officials. Assets worth over Rs 7 crore, illegally amassed by the accused, have also been seized.
A senior officer who is part of the investigation told The Indian Express that digital evidence suggests that marks of 1,120 candidates were increased in the TET held in July 2018 as well as the one held in January 2020. The conspirators tampered with the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) System in return of large sums of money from the candidates, said the official.
Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta confirmed the development. “We are in the process of consolidating the documentation, digital evidence and statements of the persons arrested till now,” said Gupta.
When asked whether the identities of the 1,120 candidates have been ascertained, an officer said, “All of them have been identified…The process of identifying those who paid money for the MHADA and Health Department paper leak is also being conducted. These names will be sent to the government.”
The probe into the TET mark tampering started after Pune Cyber Crime Cell investigators, who were probing the MHADA and Health Department paper leaks, got crucial leads. In December last year, the investigators first arrested the serving Commissioner of Maharashtra State Council Of Examination (MSCE) Tukaram Supe, and a consultant to the Department of Education, Abhijit Savrikar, for their alleged involvement in tampering of marks of some of the candidates who appeared in the January 2020 TET. Investigation has revealed that they accepted money in the range of Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh, through various middlemen. An amount of Rs 4.2 crore was collected in this manner.
MSCE is a Pune-headquartered body of government of Maharashtra which conducts various examinations. Pritish Deshmukh of GA Software, the firm which was given the contract to conduct the exam, allegedly tampered with the OMR scanning process to increase the marks. The collected Rs 4.2 crore was subsequently distributed, with Supe allegedly receiving Rs 1.7 crore and Deshmukh and Savrikar getting Rs 1.25 crore each.
While investigating malpractices in the July 2018 TET, police arrested former MSCE commissioner Sukhdeo Dere and two former GA Software executives, Ashwin Kumar and Saurabh Tripathi. TET was started by the state government as a mandatory test to be cleared by school teachers for Standards 1 to 8.
An officer who is part of the probe said, “Since 2013, every year, 2 to 3 lakh candidates appear for the test, but only a small percentage qualifies…in the 2018 test, 1.7 lakh candidates appeared and close to 9,600 qualified. In the 2020 exam, 3.4 lakh candidates appeared and over 16,500 qualified.”
School Education department of the state government has also ordered a probe into TET malpractices.
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