The Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) Directorate attached to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology will investigate alleged manipulations in the computer systems of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), highly placed police sources said on Friday.

Following information that computer software and applications were tampered with to facilitate irregularities in various recruitments, a team of cyber security experts from Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (ELCOT) made a surprise check at the TNPSC's computer centre here early on Friday.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the database and system control protocol of the TNPSC were very vulnerable and there was scope for manual intervention at crucial stages. It was decided to hand over the probe to the STQC and a formal requisition was sent to the Department of Information Technology in this regard, the sources said.

The computer centre on Greams Road was sealed after the check. “The information is that there was manual intervention to manipulate marks of some candidates and make changes in the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheet evaluation. The use of forensic and cyber security tools will analyse the activity log and detect any such fraud. The STQC will also be asked to recommend foolproof systems for the TNPSC,” an investigator said.

In a related development, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) on Friday conducted simultaneous searches on the premises of 14 TNPSC officials, including its Joint Secretary Michael Jerad and Under Secretaries E. Sugumaran and Ravi D. Elangovan. Incriminating documents, including the unofficial list of selected candidates in certain recruitments, and hall tickets were found. The DVAC had registered a case against the TNPSC Chairman and 13 Members under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and IPC on October 14. The allegation is that the accused resorted to various malpractices, including accessing unpublished list of candidates selected for various posts. When TNPSC Secretary T. Udhayachandran, an IAS officer, refused to cooperate, the full Commission passed a resolution keeping him away from the recruitment processes.

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