On Saturday eight staff members of the 159-year-old Mumbai University were arrested by the Mumbai Police thereby blowing away the lid off what seems to be a huge engineering exam answer sheet scam. Eight university staffers thus arrested from Kalina campus includes clerks, peons and security guards. The city police has busted a major racket wherein answer sheets of Mumbai University (MU) examinations were being smuggled out before being sent for evaluation so that examinees could answers questions they had left out during the exams.
Obvious Flaws Involved
During the year 2010, MU introduced the online system, wherein the papers are scanned and then checked online. There were several issues in this newly launched system. Firstly, ripped answer sheets were not accepted by the scanning system, so the roll numbers are no longer removed. Secondly, the actual answer sheets are sent in bulk to the Exam Bhavan at the Kalina campus. There, crooked officials have two days to access the papers before they are scanned and uploaded to the system.
How this all used to happen?
Since past few years, the suspects have been running the racket and students were being provided with their own answer sheets after the exam was over in exchange of a huge sum of money. The students would then write the answers at home and return it to the suspects, who would then put them back in the stack of answer-sheets in the university. The informant claimed candidates were able to access their answer sheets before evaluation in exchange for a fee, and these answer sheets were returned after being modified.
Students used to message their seat numbers to the accused on WhatsApp and later papers were provided to them. Some students, during their examination, would just sign their attendance and leave the papers without writing a word so they would later write the papers. The answer-sheets had come from exam centres in Karjat, Kharghar, Airoli, Kamothe and Navi Mumbai.
Earlier steps by the University
When in the Mumbai University during the yester years such cheating practices were witnessed, the University employed a simple safeguard i.e. they would rip off the student’s roll number from the answer sheets. Due to this, the corrupt officials were helpless in telling one student’s paper from another’s. After the papers were evaluated, the university would use a bar code to match each paper to the right student.
Action taken by the police so far
The police has seized 92 answer-sheets, which were about to be supplied to students. The seized papers belong to the engineering faculty, whose semester examination was conducted recently. Students paid anywhere between Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 per answer sheet. After paying the money, students would complete, manipulate, cancel their answers written previously. Moreover, in some cases, the students took the answer-sheets to their home.
The accused have been booked for cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal misappropriation of property. They were also charged under Sections of Maharashtra protection of malpractice at the university and other specified board examination act.
Soon after receiving a police inquiry report, a meeting will be held by the examination committee expeditiously and strict action will be taken against the guilty. Police will now be calling each of the 92 students whose answer sheets were found with the accused for questioning. All accused were produced before the court and remanded to police custody till May 25. Police is now searching houses of those arrested, besides scanning their call records and bank accounts. Police have seized Rs 1.18 lakh from the eight accused.
After two days since the huge exam racket has been busted at Mumbai University, as far as the reports from the investigations are to be believed then the accused were exploiting a simple flaw in the online evaluation system – the students’ roll numbers had not been removed from the answer sheets. This allowed the corrupt officials to identify the right papers, pull them out and give them back to the students to fill out the answers overnight.