Karnataka SI recruitment scam: Three new FIRs, arrests after … – The Indian Express

Based on a new forensic report on malpractices that occurred in an exam conducted to recruit police sub-inspectors in Karnataka in October 2021, the criminal investigation department (CID) has filed three new first information reports (FIRs) and arrested three candidates who took the exam at separate centers in Bengaluru of fraud.
In the new FIRs registered in different police stations in Bengaluru, the CID named two serving policemen, who secured the second and fourth ranks in the ‘inservice’ category, and the overall fifth-rank winner.
The three arrested accused have been identified as Hareesha H B, Mohan Kumar H G and Darshan Gowda V. A fourth candidate Dileep Kumar, who secured the 13th rank overall, has been detained. So far, 20 of the 26 accused have been arrested.
The new FIRs and arrests have occurred on the basis of a forensic analysis report dated May 24 regarding the tampering of the optical mark recognition (OMR) sheets used by candidates to answer the objective type questions — 100 questions for 150 marks.
According to the cases registered, the forensic analysis of the OMR sheets of the candidates named this week in FIRs revealed vast differences between the original OMR sheets dispatched to the police recruitment cell and the carbon copies with candidates. It revealed that the accused answered very few questions themselves during the exam and left the majority of answers blank. These were allegedly filled up later by others as part of a larger conspiracy involving middlemen and police recruitment officials, according to the new cases.
The forensic analysis also revealed that changes were made to the responses entered in the original OMR sheets on the number of questions answered by a candidate. The changes were in variance with the responses reflected in the carbon copies of OMR sheets that were retained by the candidates after the exam, as per the cases.
Earlier, based on a forensic report dated April 28, 2022, on the analysis of OMR sheets of 168 candidates who wrote the exam in Bengaluru on October 3, 2021, the CID had accused 22 candidates of cheating, including seven of the top-10 rankers.
Among the candidates named in the new FIRs, Darshan Gowda V scored 141 marks out of 150 in the objective portion of the exam – the highest for all candidates. The candidate scored one of the lowest marks in the essay portion of the exam (19) but finished fifth overall among the 545 candidates selected through the exam.
Earlier, the opposition Congress in Karnataka alleged that Gowda was let off by the police after an alleged intervention by a relative of Higher Education Minister C N Ashwathnarayan. The minister has since denied his intervention.
The other newly arrested candidates, Hareesha H B and Mohan Kumar H G scored 122 marks out of 150 in the objective portion of the exam and secured the second and fourth ranks among serving policemen who took the exam.
Apart from 26 candidates who took the exam in Bengaluru, 11 candidates who took it in the north Karnataka city of Kalaburagi have also been accused.
The exam scam is alleged to have occurred at multiple levels with the connivance of officials of the Karnataka police recruitment cell. In Kalaburagi, the fraud occurred after exam centers were allegedly rigged by middlemen to facilitate the provision of answers (via Bluetooth devices) to candidates with the cooperation of invigilators and exam center officials.
A private school run by a local BJP leader Divya Hagaragi – who has been arrested – was the location where the 11 candidates arrested in Kalaburagi wrote their recruitment exam. The agents who allegedly fixed the exam in Kalaburagi – R D Patil and Mahantesh Patil – have been linked to the Congress party.
In Bengaluru, candidates wrote the exams at multiple centers and their OMR sheets were allegedly modified at the police recruitment cell, the CID investigations have found. Candidates paid between Rs 30 lakh to Rs 80 lakh to facilitate their selection to be police sub-inspectors, the probe has found.
The CID has arrested Shantakumar, a deputy superintendent of police in the police recruitment cell. The CID has also questioned the additional director general of police in Karnataka Amrit Paul over the scam.
The candidates who have already been named as accused in the exam scam include Shivaraja G (third rank), Jagrut S (fourth rank), Praveen Kumar H R, Raghuveer H U, Yashwanth Gowda H, Narayana C M, and Nagesh Gowda C S (sixth to 10th rank) as well as the first-rank winner among women, Rachana H.
“All the OMR sheets, along with the carbon copy, received from the candidates have been sent to the FSL for examination. Action is being taken against the candidates involved in such malpractice as and when evidence is collected,” the CID said in an official note last month.
“All perpetrators and conspirators are brought under the clauses of law. All efforts are being made to collect evidence without getting carried away by unfounded stories in media and social media. The investigation is being carried out in a very professional way,” the CID said.
A total of 545 candidates were selected in January 2022 from a group of 54,287 who wrote the written exam in October 2021 (from a total of 1.5 lakh aspirants).
A sessions court in Bengaluru rejected the bail pleas of several arrested candidates last week by stating that the scam affects the moral fiber of society.
`It is a case of a recruitment scam by manipulating the OMR sheets to deprive deserving candidates who have honestly worked hard for the examination for selection. Therefore, it is a socio-economic offense, which affects the moral fiber of the society,” a sessions court in Bengaluru ruled while rejecting the bail plea of several persons accused in the exam scam.
The sessions court cited a 2017 judgment by the Supreme Court in the State of Bihar vs Amith Kumar alias Bacha Rai case to turn down the bail pleas.
“We are also conscious that if undeserving candidates are allowed to top exams by corrupt means, not only will the society be deprived of deserving candidates, but it will be unfair for those students who have honestly worked hard for one whole year and are ultimately disentitled to a good rank by fraudulent practices prevalent in those examinations,” the court said quoting the Supreme Court order.
“Usually, a socio-economic offense has deep-rooted conspiracies affecting the moral fiber of society and causing irreparable harm, it needs to be considered seriously,” the Supreme Court had said.
The scam surfaced after it was found that one of the selected candidates at Kalaburagi, who scored 121 marks in the exam, had only answered questions for 31.5 marks out of a total of 150 marks in the objective section.
Many candidates, who were not selected, approached the government after the news of the recruitment of a candidate who answered only 21 questions spread on social media.
The Karnataka government annulled the results of the police sub-inspectors recruitment exam last month after the CID reported large scale rigging of the exam on the basis of its investigations in April.
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