Tamil Nadu

How to crack TNPSC Group-IV Services examination: use disappearing ink, re-marked answer sheets

Candidates appear for the TNPSC Group IV examination at a school in Madurai on September 1, 2019.

Candidates appear for the TNPSC Group IV examination at a school in Madurai on September 1, 2019.  

After the ink evaporated, corrupt officials re-entered correct answers.

The Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) on January 24 debarred 99 candidates for life on charges of indulging in malpractice in the Group-IV Services examination conducted on September 1, 2019.

Three persons have been arrested so far in the case.

Crime Branch CID officers, probing the case, said the 99 candidates used evaporating ink to mark the answers to objective type questions.

After the markings vanished a couple of hours later, two officials of the State government, entrusted with transporting the answer scripts to safe custody, inked in the right answers on the scripts.

39 in top 100

While 39 such candidates passed the exam and made it to the top 100 in the rank list, others could not clear the examination since the suspect officials did not have time to make entries in all the 99 answer scripts of candidates who appeared in the Rameswaram and Keelakarai centres of Ramanathapuram district, investigating officials said. “Further investigation also revealed that the suspected agents along with those in examination duty in these centres, had replaced answer sheets of 52 candidates,” the TNPSC said earlier in the day.

How to crack TNPSC Group-IV Services examination: use disappearing ink, re-marked answer sheets
 

The TNPSC had conducted the Group-IV exams for filling up 9,398 posts for which 16,29,865 candidates appeared. The results were declared on November 12, 2019, and the certificate verification of the successful candidates was under way when the fraud came to light.

An First Investigation Report (FIR) has been registered against the 99 candidates and suspected agents, the Commission said.

Hours after registering a case, a special team under the direct supervision of Director-General of Police M.S Jaffar Sait cracked the case and unravelled the modus operandi of the suspects. The two suspect tahsildars were taken into custody in Ramanathapuram and brought to Chennai for interrogation. Special teams are on the lookout for one Jayakumar of Anna Nagar, Chennai, who is alleged to be the kingpin, and his associates.

TNPSC secretary K. Nanthakumar (left) leaves the district treasury in Ramanathapuram on January 10, 2020.

TNPSC secretary K. Nanthakumar (left) leaves the district treasury in Ramanathapuram on January 10, 2020.  

 

Given two pens

According to officials, a source in the Directorate of Public Instruction campus passed on the details of applicants to the two tahsildars, who then contacted them with offers to help during the exam. After asking them to opt for Rameswaram or Keelakarai as the examination centre, the suspect officials collected ₹10-12 lakh from each of them as “service” charge.

The candidates were then given two pens on the day of the examination — one was a regular pen for writing the registration number and other identification details, the other was filled with evaporative ink to mark the answers.

“After the ink vanished an hour later, the suspect officials who had the list of their candidates then made fresh markings with the help of readily available answer keys. This is the first time that we have come across such a fraud,” a senior investigator told The Hindu.

A file photograph of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission building

A file photograph of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission building   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

 

However, the official said though the fraud came to light now, there was credible input that the suspects deployed the same modus operandi in an earlier examination conducted by the TNPSC. “We have strong reasons to believe that some other candidates who benefited from the earlier fraud are in government service now. We have secured one such candidate, ” he said.

Answers outsourced

On how the suspect tahsildars knew the answers, the official said they leaked a copy of the question paper to a third party soon after the commencement of the examination. The answers were kept ready by the time the duo reached a pre-determined place.

Asked why the candidates had to use an evaporative ink while they could have left the answer scripts blank, the official said the TNPSC had introduced a procedure where invigilators had to check and sign every script, certifying the number of questions answered.

Since only 39 candidates could make it through the fraudulent manner, the suspects were in the process of refunding the money taken from other candidates. “Since they didn’t have much time, they left many answer scripts of candidates who used the evaporative ink untouched and they are lying blank in the custody of the TNPSC now. The seal applied on the answer script bundles at the examination centres have also been tampered with,” the official speaking on conditions of anonymity said.

On how the scam surfaced, another CB-CID official said under a new provision introduced by the TNPSC to bring about transparency, candidates could access the answer scripts of others. It was during this cross checking that some candidates found that most of the toppers belonged to Rameswaram and Keelakarai centres and flagged the issue.

The CB-CID on January 24 night arrested three persons R. Nitish Kumar, 21, who cleared the 2019 Group-IV exam; M. Thirumurgan, 35, who passed allegedly by using the same fraudulent means in 2017, and is working as an assistant in the Energy Department; and E. Ramesh, 39, Office Assistant in the DPI campus.

The suspect tahsildars are being questioned on their involvement malpractice in other competitive examinations, sources in the agency added.

(With inputs from Dennis S Jesudasan)

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 9:16:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/how-to-crack-tnpsc-disappearing-ink-re-marked-answer-sheets/article30646660.ece

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