For many Indian youth, the post of a Police Sub-Inspector is a coveted one. The scope for manipulation through corruption and political influence is high in the process of recruitment. The officer in charge of recruitment comes under tremendous pressure from current and former legislators, ministers, Chief Minister, and even friends and relatives. Resisting pressure at the risk of one’s career is the name of the game.
The processes associated with PSI Recruitment — physical efficiency test (PET), physical standard test (PST), written test and personal interview — involve a large number of support personnel. Even a single mistake can taint the entire process. Ensuring secrecy of question papers, storing them safely and transporting them to various centres have to be handled without giving room for question paper leak.
“Coaching shops” attract many desperate candidates. Huge sums of money are collected with the false promise of sharing the actual question papers in advance. There is no dearth of touts and agents who promise the job to gullible candidates for a price.
More than 15 years back, technology was introduced by Karnataka police in order to make recruitment transparent and scam-free. Amongst others, CCTV coverage was ensured during PST, PET and written exams. Objective type papers with OMR sheets would be scanned, eliminating human intervention and malpractices in evaluation. Impersonators and fraudsters were identified early, criminally prosecuted and potential scams nipped in the bud. However, the scam that is currently under investigation shows that fraudsters have learnt to find loopholes in the system., though technology has only got more sophisticated today.
What is the way forward? A slew of reforms is the need of the hour in order to ensure a fair process. Government should post an officer of unimpeachable integrity and competence to head recruitment. He should be provided adequate human resource, technological support and budget with a strong team to handle litigation. The Government and the head of the department should fully support him in resisting influence and political pressure, Utopian though it may seem in the present environment.
It is time that the Government exhibited the political will to come up with a tough and comprehensive piece of legislation criminalising malpractices and scams in recruitment. This legislation should define various acts of omission and commission associated with it . Acts such as copying, leaking question papers and rumour mongering should be criminalized.
The law should have penal provisions to deal with touts, persons who run “tutorial shops”, erring invigilators and Government servants. It should include provisions for debarring delinquent candidates from applying for Government service for a certain number of years or even permanently. A database of all such crimes and attempts to commit crimes should be maintained.
The recruitment chief should also institutionalise best practices such as holding workshops and training programmes for in-house personnel involved in the Recruitment process as also the invigilators drawn from other departments. Examination centres should be selected after due diligence and habitual offenders kept under surveillance. Once these reforms are implemented, they should be sustained with further improvements year after year. It will be tragic if slackness and complacency set in after the present scandal fades from public memory.
Governance consists of an effective system led by a competent leader. Even if one of them fails, the result can be disastrous.
(The author is a former Director-General & Inspector General of Police, Karnataka)