SSC Exam Scam: When PMO asked SSC to investigate itself, twice

The PMO’s decision to forward complaints relating to SSC to the SSC itself for investigation has proved farcical, with the SSC closing the complaint cases on both occasions

Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Vikrant Jha

Ashim Khurana, the Chairman of the Staff Selection Commission, proudly told the media on March 10 that corruption in the commission used to exist in the past, but once examinations went online, corruption reduced massively. Protesting unemployed youth outside the SSC headquarters in New Delhi have a different claim altogether. National Herald got access to a few documents which suggest that Khurana might need to revisit his claims.

The stenographer exam conducted by SSC has two tiers; one written, and two: skill tests. In the skill test, candidates have to listen to an audio and dictate it within the allotted time. Selected candidates obtain jobs in various government departments. In the stenographer examination conducted by the SSC in 2016 (notifications were released in December 2015), an audio of the skill test exam was allegedly leaked. Hence, even before the SSC played the audio for the candidates to transcribe, many of them, having already accessed the leaked audio, had already transcribed the answers, allege the protesting candidates. “There were some or the other discrepancy in the steno exam 2015 at almost every centre,” allege protestors, who have even taken the matter to the Prime Minister’s office.

Listen to the purported audio of the SSC stenographer examination conducted in 2016, accessed by NH.

The percentage of mistakes allowed for a general candidate in skill test is 7%, but candidates with higher percentage of mistake, in one case up to 14%, were selected by the SSC, is the next allegation by the candidates.

NH photo
NH photo
Candidates accessed answer sheets of a candidate who was posted in CBDT, although her mistake count was 14%, double of what is allowed

When the matter was taken to the PMO, the PMO asked the SSC to investigate discrepancies in the examinations. However, the case was closed within two days by the SSC, which claimed, “Due to certain difficulties faced by the Commission in evaluating stenography skill test answer script on computer, the Commission decided to get the evaluation done manually by experts following uniform guidelines for all candidates. Hence no discrimination or disadvantage was faced by any candidate.”

NH photo
NH photo
Screenshot of a grievance filed by a candidate against the SSC on the Government of India’s grievance portal. The complaint was forwarded to the SSC by the PMO, the case was closed within two days

Outraged candidates then met, BJP MP Harish Chandra Meena in Rajasthan. “Number of students have met me personally and have complained about manually checking of skill tests copy and manipulation of results,” Meena wrote to HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and DoPT Jitender Singh, adding, “I shall be grateful if could kindly look into the matter and instruct the concerned enquiry as it concerns more than 2,000 job aspirants.”

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NH photo
BJP MP Harish Chandra Meena’s letters to HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar (Left) and MoS DOPT, Jitendra Singh

Candidates again filed a grievance on the grievance portal but the PMO yet again forwarded the matter to SSC itself for investigation. SSC in return forwarded the matter to a place in Kolkata called Kalabagan, claim candidates. “There was no investigation done, the matter was just sent to a remote area in Kolkata. When the CBI office is on a walking distance from the SSC HQ, why and where was it sent in Kolkata,” ask protesting candidates. “SSC did not give any information on how the investigation was carried out and who did it when we went to their office,” they add.

On 1 April 2017, the case was, once again, closed with details, “SSC has maintained utmost impartiality in conduct of the examination.”

NH photo
NH photo
Left: Screenshot of a grievance filed by a candidate against the SSC on the Government of India’s grievance portal. The matter was allegedly forwarded by SSC to unnamed receivers at place with pin code 700053, which happens to be Kalabagan in Kolkata; Right: Screenshot showing case closed after SSC investigated allegations against itself after the PMO once again forwarded the matter to the SSC for actions

No wonder protesting students, along with education activists like Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India call SSC’s selection process a farce. PMO’s decision to forward a matter relating to SSC to the SSC itself for investigation is perhaps no less farcical.

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