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Explained: What are slew of malpractices in Maharashtra government job exams unearthed by Pune cyber police

Investigation into an alleged paper leak in a health department recruitment exam led to the discovery of several malpractices in Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority exams and teacher eligibility tests.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune |
Updated: December 28, 2021 6:28:45 pm
The investigations on the MHADA the health department malpractices led to the discovery of more malfeasance in the government examination process. (File)

The cybercrime sleuths of Pune city police have over the last month brought to light four widespread and alarming instances of malpractices in government recruitment, including paper leaks and rigging of the exam process.

As many as 26 people, including senior government officials, middlemen, private entities contracted for recruitment processes, and candidates, were arrested and illegal assets running into crores of rupees were seized.

Here is a close look at how these probes unfolded and how the police are giving feedback to the government about the system whose flaws were exploited by the nexus of top officials, private entities and agents.

What happened in the health department exam?

An examination for the recruitment of Grade D employees in the Maharashtra public health department was held across the state on October 31. The cybercrime cell of Pune police received inputs about a possible question paper leak.

In the preliminary probe, the police confirmed the paper leak and accordingly senior officials from the department were made aware of the leak. On November 26, an FIR was registered with the cybercrime police station of Pune city police.

Till now, 18 people have been arrested, including Mahesh Botle, an officer of joint director rank with the health department, Prashant Badgire, the chief administrative officer from the Latur office of the department and a Dr Sandeep Jogdand, a health officer, other government employees, agents and candidates, who received the leaked paper.

Officials said that a search is on for more suspects in the case. A probe has revealed that 92 out of the 100 questions in the examination paper were leaked and circulated on social media on the day of the examination. The accused were booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections on criminal breach of trust and cheating and provisions of the Maharashtra Prevention of Malpractices at University, Board and Other Specified Examinations Act, 1982.

MHADA paper leak detected in advance

As the cybercrime sleuths were probing the health department paper leak, they received credible inputs on December 10 that an exam paper for the recruitment process of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), scheduled to be held on December 12, was also leaked.

Maharashtra Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad announced the postponement of the MHADA recruitment examinations.

Dr Pritish Diliprao Deshmukh (32), director of the GA Software Technologies Private Limited, which was given the contract by the state government to conduct the recruitment examinations, and two people acting as middlemen were arrested.

Malpractices in teacher eligibility tests for two years

The investigations on the MHADA the health department malpractices led to the discovery of more malfeasance in the government examination process.

The serving commissioner of Maharashtra State Council Of Examination (MSCE) Tukaram Supe and a consultant to the education department Abhijit Savrikar were arrested for their alleged involvement in tampering of marks in the statewide Teacher Eligibility Test (TET), held in January 2020.

MSCE is a Pune-headquartered body of the state government that conducts various academic aptitude exams, preliminary exams for various national level scholastic tests and the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) among others.

Following a notification issued in 2019, the MSCE conducted a TET on January 19, 2020. A probe revealed that Supe and Savrikar allegedly accepted money from candidates through various middlemen and illegally amassed around Rs 4.2 crore.

Pritish Deshmukh of GA Software allegedly tampered with the OMR scanning process to get these candidates qualified. The amount of Rs 4.2 crore was subsequently divided with Supe receiving RS 1.7 crore and Deshmukh and Savrikar getting Rs 1.25 crore each.

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Unearthing similar malpractices in 2018 TET, the police arrested former MSCE commissioner Sukhdeo Dere and two former GA Software executives Ashwin Kumar and Saurabh Tripathi. Diamond, gold and silver valuables were recovered from Kumar’s house.

What will happen next?

Senior officials from the cybercrime cell have said that all the four government exam malpractices involve top-level government officials, contracted entities and agents. Officials said that multiple communications have been sent from the office of DCP (Cyber Crime and Economic Offenses) Bhagyashree Navatake and police commissioner Amitabh Gupta to the government on how exactly the papers were leaked and the exam processes were rigged. Some of these communications include detailed confidential reports.

“The Pune police is in the process of submitting a detailed report to the government about the flaws in the system which were exploited by the nexus of insiders, private entities and agents. The report will be submitted after the probe is over. Many things can be improved in the system including the mechanism of vigilance and supervision.” said a senior officer.

The officer added, “The probe is still ongoing and there will be more arrests in the case of malfeasance brought to light till now. We are also working on concrete leads about possible malpractices in more government recruitment processes.”

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