The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to respond to a petition seeking an inquiry into the alleged leak of a question paper of an exam the Staff Selection Commission conducted in February, The Times of India reported. The court will hear the case on March 19.

On March 5, the government had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the alleged question paper leak. The commission’s chairman had recommended a CBI inquiry after a week of protests by aspirants in New Delhi since February 27. The aspirants had alleged that one of the tests held on February 21 had been leaked.

The Staff Selection Commission conducts exams for recruitment in the central government.

The alleged paper leak

The candidates began protesting days after the Staff Selection Commission said it would conduct a re-test for those who took the Combined Graduate-Level Examination on February 21. Citing “technical reasons”, the SSC made the announcement on February 24 and scheduled the re-examination for March 9.

Candidates wrote the SSC exams between February 17 and February 22, but the February 21 test was “delayed” and “candidates faced inconveniences” because of “incomplete downloading of data”, the Staff Selection Commission had said.

Aspirants, however, alleged “mass cheating” in the examination and said the question paper was leaked. They also accused the Staff Selection Commission of blatant corruption in the way it conducts the exams.