A fresh plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking stay on issuing of joining letters to the selected candidates of 'tainted' SSC combined graduate level examination (CGLE) of 2017, till the apex court appointed committee submits its report. The top court had constituted a 7-member committee to suggest measures to make entrance exams meant for jobs and admissions in educational institutions fool proof.
The fresh plea filed recently by one Shantanu Kumar also sought directions to the committee, headed by retired apex court judge Justice G S Singhvi, to look into the case diary, charge sheets filed by CBI and the bail orders passed by a trial court in the SSC question paper leak case.
The plea it is "seeking interim directions to stay the entire process of CGLE-2017, and for issuance of directions for staying the issuance of joining letters/appointment letters to the selected candidates until the submission of the report".
It also sought restraining Staff Selection Commission (SSC) from conducting any further CGLE until the report is submitted and "the reforms suggested by this Committee, if any, are implemented". The plea filed through advocate Gaurav Gupta said that recently several instances of malpractices came to light in the CGLE-2017 conducted by the SSC.
"During the conduct of CGLE-17 on February 21, 2018, several malpractices and illegalities came to light. The irregularities reported related to cheating through screen sharing software, sharing of answer key on social media even before the commencement of the exam," it said.
The plea further said that the annual calendar of the SSC discloses that it is going to conduct a large number of examinations over the period of next four-five months.
"Since, there is considerable evidence available in the public domain that the examinations being conducted by SSC are tainted and prone to malpractices, therefore, it would be necessary to restrain SSC from conducting any examination till the submission of the report by the Committee, which is mandated to submits its report within three months from its first meeting," it said.
The petition said that under the terms of reference, the committee is looking at whether exams in the future are to be conducted by the SSC or the National Testing Agency (NTA).
It said that the working and function of NTA and the SSC are very different and the NTA has a more hands-on approach, whereas the SSC outsources everything to private parties.
"Therefore, the examinations conducted by SSC are more prone and susceptible to malpractices and irregularities," it said.
The plea said that based on the preliminary enquiry the CBI had registered a case against various persons on May 22, 2018 and three accused were arrested on June 4, 2019 in the case for leakage of question papers of CGLE-2017.
It said that although the CBI which was required to file the charge sheets against all the accused within 60 days from the date of arrests but only part Charge sheet based on prima facie evidence was filed against two accused.
The plea said that charge sheet based on the detailed investigation by the CBI against the main accused Akshay Kumar Malik remains yet to be filed and therefore the trial court granted him bail.
Referring to the bail order, the plea said that the trial court had noted, "It has been revealed that Late Annu Malik in furtherance of the criminal conspiracy obtained all question sets with answers of QA and English Language and Comprehension of the exam scheduled from February 17-21, 2018 and showed them to prospective candidates prior to respective exams in lieu of illegal gratification".
The order further said, "Accused applicant Akshay Malik played an active role while the question papers were shown to the candidates in Raj Nagar Extension. The premises was taken on rent by the accused/applicant and he assisted the accused persons while showing the questions and answers to candidates. He collected the payment for showing the question papers and delivered to late Annu Malik".
The plea further sought direction to CBI to file charge sheet against all the remaining accused in the case. Kumar had earlier filed the plea seeking probe into the alleged paper leak and scrapping of the examination of 2017.
On May 9, the top court had paved the way for declaration of results of SSC CGLE-2017 by vacating its stay on it. On August 31 last year, the top court had stayed the declaration of result of the 2017 SSC exams which were marred by allegations of paper leak, saying it seemed that the entire test and system was "tainted".
The top court, however, had made clear that declaration of results of the examination would be subject to final outcome of the case. The other members of the committee are: co-founder of tech giant Infosys Nandan Nilekani, renowned computer scientist Vijay Bhatkar, renowned mathematician R L Karandikar, Sanjay Bhardwaj and a representative each from the Centre as well as the CBI.
The SSC is a central government body which conducts examinations to recruit staff at multiple levels in various ministries and departments. Several lakh students appear in SSC examination each year and enter government services in Group C and D Categories of jobs once they qualify.
The SSC Combined Graduate Level exam has a four-tier system, in which tier I and tier II are computer-based, while in tier III and IV, job applicants take up a descriptive paper and a computer proficiency test or skill test.
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.