CBI books 17 including Sify employees in SSC paper leak case

CBI books 17 including Sify employees in SSC paper leak case

Staff Selection Commission (SSC) aspirants stage a protest over the alleged paper leak of SSC, demanding a CBI investigation, in New Delhi, on Sunday. PTI File Photo

The CBI has registered an FIR against 17 persons, including 10 employees of Sify Technologies Pvt Ltd, in connection with the leak of paper for the graduate level examination of Staff Selection Commission, officials said on Wednesday.

The agency carried out searches at 12 locations, including four offices of the Sify Technologies Pvt Ltd in Chennai, Noida, Mumbai and Okhla, New Delhi besides the residence of one of its employees, Sant Prasad Gupta in Sheikh Sarai area here, they said.

It is alleged that the paper of the second tier of the Combined Graduate Level (CGL), 2017, which took place on February 21, 2018, and its answer key was allegedly leaked and became viral on social media before examination began.

The agency has also named seven students in the FIR who had appeared in the examination on the basis of the screenshot of the question paper which was allegedly leaked and became viral on social media.

The examination papers were set in such a way that an examinee got the questions in a certain 'sequence', they said.

Going by the pattern of the questions leaked, the CBI managed to locate seven students who would have received those questions in that particular pattern.

These students have been named as accused and their complicity would be decided during the course of the investigation which has begun now, the officials said.

Sant Prasad Gupta, custodian of the question bank at Sify, along with nine other employees of the company who were site managers at seven examination centres where the leaked paper had reached, have also been named in the FIR, they said.

It was during the tenure of Ashim Khurana, Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, that contract for conducting online CGL examination for recruitment of the Group B and C services in the central government was given to the Sify Technologies on April 12, 2016.

Khurana has recently been given one-year extension as the chairman.

Prior to that, the examination was conducted in optical marks reader (OMR) mode, the FIR has said.

During the enquiry, it surfaced that the Sify was entrusted with various duties to conduct examination which included identification and preparation of test centres across the country, preparation of question paper sets, sanitising each computer and the lab used in the examination to prevent any communication from the computers used by examinees, it said.

The first level of the examination had taken place in August last year and the candidates who had cleared the cut-off list had appeared for the second level of examination (Tier II) between February 17 and February 22 this year.

It was found that question paper was uploaded by the central examination back-end team of Sify in Chennai between 9.30 am and 10 am.

The question pack activation passwords were then sent to site supervisors who communicated to examination controller and venue specific question papers were downloaded and activated using examination interface.

The screenshots revealed that they belonged to seven candidates who have been named in the FIR, they said.

Sify officials, who were supposed to take charge of the examination centres five days before the exams, had to ensure that none of the computers used in the examination has any undesirable software, the FIR alleged.

"These screenshots also shows the use of remote access software for solving the question papers. This fact shows that the above candidates used remote access software for solving their question papers by means of outside help from unknown persons," the FIR alleged.

They alleged that the enquiry pertaining to answer key dated February 21, 2018, revealed that this answer key got viral on social media at 10.10 am on February 21, 2018, before the scheduled time of exam 10.30 am.

"Enquiry further revealed that Sant Prasad Gupta being head of the content team of M/s Sify got prepared the question papers of CGL examination, 2017 and he was the custodian of said question papers. The above facts and circumstances reveal his involvement in the leakage of above papers," it alleged.

It said in furtherance of the said criminal conspiracy, the unidentified officials of the SSC, who were supposed to supervise and monitor in order to ensure the fair and smooth conduct of the examination, abused their official position as public servants, resulting into above illegal acts.

The search operation of the agency covered seven examination labs in Patna, Shimla, Ambala and Jaipur and three places in Delhi, besides Sify offices in Chennai, Noida, Mumbai, Okhla.

In the CGLE-2017, more than 30 lakh candidates across the country had applied for just over 8,000 vacancies, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh had said.

Out of these, around 1.5 lakh candidates were short-listed after the Tier-1 exam, he had said.