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Explained: What is the Army recruitment paper leak case, and who are the accused?

The all-India exam, for which over 30,000 aspirants were slated to appear, was cancelled after the question paper leak had come to light in the last week of February.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni , Edited by Explained Desk | Pune |
Updated: March 16, 2021 1:18:04 pm
File photo of suspects arrested in Army paper leak case when they were brought to Pune police commissioner officer

The two Army officers of Major rank, who have been arrested as key suspects in the Army recruitment paper leak case, were produced before a court in Pune on Monday (March 15) and further remanded to police custody till March 20. The all-India exam, for which over 30,000 aspirants were slated to appear, was cancelled after the question paper leak had come to light in the last week of February.

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What was the examination and how did the paper leak come to light?

On February 28, the Army was to conduct a pan-India Common Entrance Exam (CEE) for recruitment of soldiers (General Duty). This particular process was referred to as ‘relation recruitment’, meaning this drive was for those who have immediate relatives in the Army. The written exam was to be conducted at 40 exam centres across India and around 30,000 aspirants were to appear for it.

After receiving a tip off about a paper leak, sleuths from the Military Intelligence of the Army conducted a joint operation with Pune police and raided various places in and around Pune prior to the scheduled examination and seized question papers. The primary probe revealed that the suspected leaked paper was a 100 percent match to the original question paper, following which the Army cancelled the entire process.

How has the investigation progressed till now?

After the leak had come to light, the Pune police registered two separate offences at Wanawadi and Vishrantwadi police stations in Pune city denoting probes by two separate teams of the crime branch into the paper leak in the same examination process. Till now three persons have been arrested in the case registered at Vishrantwadi police station. The probe into the case at Wanawadi police station has seen a total of seven arrests till now, including those of two serving officers of Major rank — one currently at an Army establishment in Tamil Nadu and another in Delhi — and two serving soldiers currently serving in Pune. Three others arrested include two civilians and one ex-serviceman.

The police have told the court earlier that Major Thiru Murugan Thangavelu (47) had received the leaked paper from Major Vasant Vijay Kilari (45). Major Thangavelu subsequently sent the paper to another accused in the case to be further distributed down the chain. One of the focuses of the investigation is also to dig out the role played by people linked to private coaching institutions who train aspirants for these recruitment processes. These coaching classes — multiple recent cases have shown — were used by racketeers to tap the aspirant who could be lured into paying large sums of money for getting recruited into the Armed forces.

The police custody of the two Major rank officers ends today and the duo, who happen to be batchmates according to the police, will be produced before the court in Pune. The police have invoked various sections of Indian Penal Code along with the Maharashtra Prevention of Malpractices at University, Board and other Specified Examinations Act and also the Prevention of Corruption Act and Information Technology Act.The joint investigation by the Pune police and Military Intelligence has also brought to light how exactly the paper was leaked using the loopholes in the system.

What has been the Indian Army’s response?

Days after the leak of the question paper came to light, the Indian Army said that the existing system of recruitment process will be made more foolproof and robust by incorporating the findings of joint investigation by Army authorities and Maharashtra police.

The Indian Army statement in this regard read, “In pursuance of Indian Army’s resolve to ensure transparency and eliminate corrupt practices in recruitment, Indian Army and Maharashtra State Police are jointly investigating the recent case of leakage of question paper for Common Entrance Examination for recruitment of Soldiers (General Duty). The findings of the inquiry will be incorporated in the existing system of recruitment process to make it more foolproof and robust. Due process of law will be followed to proceed against persons who may have violated the standard operating procedures for conduct of such examinations.”

On the other hand, the Army is planning to conduct an internal inquiry, following the completion of the ongoing probe by the police in tandem with the Military Intelligence. The internal inquiry by the Army will try to ascertain possible procedural lapses that might have caused or aided the alleged paper leak.

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