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IAS officer Sushil Khodwekar arrested over TET marks scam

A cyber police team arrested Khodwekar and produced him before a court on Saturday. He is currently the Deputy Secretary in the state’s Agriculture Department.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: January 30, 2022 5:10:21 am
The probe is connected with investigations into a slew of malpractices in various state government exams. (Express file)

An IAS officer, Sushil Khodwekar, posted as deputy secretary in the state agriculture department, has been arrested by Pune city police for his alleged involvement in the malpractices in Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) held in January 2020.

Police said Khodwekar is working as deputy secretary in the agriculture department since November 2020.

He was earlier posted as deputy secretary, school education and sports department.

A team from cyber police station arrested Khodwekar from Thane. Police seized his cell phone worth Rs 30,000. Inspector Kumar Ghadge produced him before a magistrate in Pune on Saturday.

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Prosecution lawyer Vijaysinha Jadhav sought his custody for seven days for further investigation while the court granted police custody till December 31.

The TET investigation is also linked to several other probes being launched into malpractices in various state government exams. Starting with the investigation into a paper leak in the recruitment process of Group D employees of the Health department in November last year, the cyber cell of Pune city police further unearthed a question paper leak in Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (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 investigations have led to a total of 37 arrests, including those of senior government officials, middlemen, private entities contracted for recruitment processes, coaching class owners and candidates.

While probing the MHADA question paper leak case in November 2021, the cyber police station had found the involvement of some accused in tampering of marks of several candidates who appeared in the state-wide TET held in January 2020. A separate FIR was lodged for investigating the scam and 12 persons were arrested in this case. They included Maharashtra State Council of Examination (MSCE) commissioner Tukaram Supe, consultant to the department of education Abhijit Savrikar, Pritish Deshmukh (32), the current director of GA Software Technologies Private Limited company, which was given the contract by the state government to conduct the recruitment examinations for various posts, Manoj Dongre and others.

Khodwekar’s arrest is the 13th one in the case. Police told the court that as per the instructions of Deshmukh, Khodwekar allegedly asked Supe to issue eligibility certificates to the candidates who failed to clear the TET.

Police submitted that Supe and Pritish Deshmukh allegedly gave lakhs of rupees to Khodwekar through accused Dongre and a probe is on to recover this money from him. Police also submitted that Khodwekar allegedly directed Supe to remove GA Software from the black list. Police said the company was blacklisted by the education department for serious wrong doings in managing examinations. Police also alleged Khodwekar allegedly went out of the way to support Supe who was found to be involved in illegal activities within the department. Police also want to probe Khodwekar’s cell phone.

The accused persons working with this company had access to the website, which they misused for the alleged malpractice in TET, police said. A larger investigation by the Pune city police has revealed that marks scored by as many as 7,880 candidates of Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) held in 2018 and 2020 were increased by tampering with the evaluation process. Police would be submitting a list of these candidates to the state government for further action.

Police said money ranging between Rs 35,000 to a couple of lakhs were allegedly taken from the candidates to increase their TET marks. Further investigation is on and more arrests may take place in the scam, they said.

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