Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday termed the incident of Class 10 mathematics and Class 12 economics paper leaks unfortunate and assured that no culprits will go scot free. The HRD minister assured students that the dates for re-examination will be announced by Monday or Tuesday and the difficulty level of the new exams will be at par with previous papers.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), in a circular yesterday, had said that students would have to take the re-test for the two subjects.
"The CBSE will declare what will be the next step in a couple of days, probably on Monday or Tuesday," Javadekar told reporters here.
We will not let any culprit go scot-free. The police is on the job and I am very sure, they will nab the culprits as they have done in case of the SSC exam leak case. We have also instituted an internal inquiry, he said.
Javadekar said he could understand the pain, anguish and frustrations of students and parents because we are one with them.
The CBSE has earned a name for conducting good examination and was, therefore, assigned the task of conducting medical entrance examination by the Supreme Court, he said.
Javadekar said being a sensible parent, he could not sleep last night.
We must make all efforts to ensure that these exam go really without any breach though culprits may be using newer ways and methods, he said.
He said all efforts would be made to improve the system to face the new challenges posed by the culprits and make itfoolprooff.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police crime branch questioned 35 people, including the owner of a coaching centre, 18 students and some tutors, in connection with the alleged leak of CBSE examination papers, the Delhi Police said today as it tried to follow the trail of documents, which were shared mostly through WhatsApp.
The police also said that the CBSE has in its complaint stated that it had received an e-mail a day before the Class 10 Mathematics exam claiming that the paper had been leaked. The police too had received a call in the control room on the same day about the alleged paper leak.
Special Commissioner of Police (Crime) R P Upadhyay said: "Currently, the investigation is based in Delhi. We have no information that this leakage is pan-India.
If such a thing emerges (about leakage being outside Delhi), we will send teams outside Delhi."
The officer said that 35 people have been questioned so far in connection with the leak of class 10 Mathematics and Class 12 Economic papers, which were held on March 28 and March 26 respectively.
"It has been established that both the papers were leaked before the scheduled dates of examinations and were circulated and exchanged on WhatsApp among some tutors and students. Among those questioned are 18 students, including seven college students, five tutors and two others," the officer said.
Some of the tutors teach at home while the others are employed at coaching centres. There are also first-year college students, who passed on the papers to their juniors, or friends from school or coaching centres.
Upadhyay said that they are trying to establish the trail "which means finding the origin of the leakage, followed by how it was transmitted and who all were the beneficiaries".
The officer also said that till now, their investigation has not revealed that any money was charged in exchange for the leaked paper.
The Board has also been asked to share information on the entire process of conducting the examination.
"The Board has been cooperating in the probe. We have asked them things like how the paper is set, details of where the question papers are kept and how they are distributed to various examination centres. After we get these details, we will try to find out how the leak happened," the crime branch official said.
In its complaint submitted to the Delhi Police, the CBSE had mentioned the name of a tutor in Rajendra Nagar.
During questioning, the tutor claimed that he came across the economics paper that was circulated on WhatsApp, and made his students solve it, according to police.
However, police said that no one has been given a clean chit as the investigation is still in progress.
A day before the mathematics paper was scheduled, the Board had received an e-mail informing them about the leak. The e-mail has been shared with the police and the police are trying to get details of the e-mail address, he said.
On the same day the Board received the e-mail, the police had received a call in their control room from a tuition teacher that the mathematics paper had been leaked and some students had the paper with them in advance.
The police began a probe in the matter while it was also circulated on Twitter that the paper had been leaked. They found that the paper had been circulated by a Punjabi Bagh-based businessman, said another officer privy to the probe.
Initially, the businessman could not be found but he joined the investigation on Wednesday. The businessman had also received the paper from some other person and just forwarded a link, the police said.
In its complaint to the police, the Board has said that they received a complaint by fax on March 23 from an "unknown source" that a man running a coaching institute in Rajinder Nagar was involved in Economics paper leak.
The complaint also named two schools in Rajendra Nagar for their involvement in the alleged leakage.
This information was shared with the police at that time, the complaint said.
On March 26, when the students sat for the Economics paper, the CBSE Academic unit at Rouse Avenue received an unaddressed envelope in the evening containing four sheets of hand written answers of the Economics paper.
"It was indicated in the papers kept inside the envelope that the question paper was leaked and circulated through WhatsApp group numbers," the complaint said.
The Delhi Police had registered two cases. The first case in connection with the leak of economics paper was lodged on March 27 while the case pertaining to mathematics paper was lodged on March 28, following a complaint by the regional director of CBSE.
The cases were registered on charges of criminal breach of trust, cheating and criminal conspiracy.
A special investigation team comprising two deputy commissioners of police, four assistant commissioners of police and five inspectors has been set up to investigate the matter. The team is being directly supervised by the joint commissioner of police (crime). Students in Delhi took to the streets today to protest the CBSE's decision to hold re-examination in the two subjects, even as the Congress demanded that Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and the Board chairperson be sacked.
The Delhi unit of All India Democratic Students' Organisation today demanded a high-level probe into the paper leak case, and said it showed the board's "utter negligence" in conducting examinations fairly.
The students' body staged a demonstration on Parliament Street against the leakage of papers of two subjects and accused the central government of making false claims in providing good governance.
"We demand high-level inquiry into the leaks and appeal to the students and parents to initiate a movement till all the demands are met," AIDSO vice president Rahul Sarkar said.
A large number of students from various schools participated in the protest and raised slogans against CBSE and Ministry of Human Resource Development over the way they had handled the examination process.
"It has shocked lakhs of students who had prepared day and night for exams. This system has failed to stop corrupt practices and few people including high officials who are busy in making money at the cost of future of students," Sarkar said.
(With inputs from PTI)