The Maharashtra government will order a probe into allegations of irregularities in conducting an examination to fill up lower category posts in the state government in 2019, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat told The Times of India on Tuesday. The alleged scam took place during the tenure of former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, an exclusive investigative report by The Wire revealed on Sunday.
The irregularities were first flagged nearly six months ago after Ahmednagar District Collector Rahul Dwivedi submitted a 12-page report to the revenue and information technology departments. “We have received the report and we will initiate preliminary probe into the findings of the collector,” Thorat told The Times of India. “If needed, we will conduct a high-level inquiry.”
Additional Chief Secretary Nitin Karir and IT secretary Vikas Chandra Rastogi confirmed the development. “Both the revenue and IT departments are sharing specific information pertaining to the case,” Karir said.
The exam was conducted by the ‘MahaPariksha Portal’, handled by the Maharashtra Information Technology Corporation Limited, between July 2 and July 26, 2019, across 34 districts. As many as 25,000 positions were to be filled. Around 35 lakh aspirants had applied for these positions.
Dwivedi had first spotted “some error” in November while processing the papers of 236 shortlisted candidates for the Class ‘C’ revenue officers’ position in Ahmednagar district. Candidates who were among the toppers were not aware of even basic details like when and where these exams were conducted. Later, he realised that some of them had not appeared for these exams.
On May 22, the district collector put together the 12-page report. “I have done my work,” Dwivedi told The Wire. “All that I had to say is mentioned in the report and it is with the concerned department. It is for them to decide now.”
Almost every district administration and state department conducting these exams has received several complaints. However, except Dwivedi, other district administrations overlooked the complaints and completed the recruitment process.
The pattern and extent of the scam is very similar to the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, according to The Wire, which has accessed the answer sheets of many dubious candidates. The Vyapam scam refers to alleged irregularities in various entrance and recruitment exams conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board – also known as the Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal, or Vyapam.
The Central Bureau of Investigation took over the probe from the Madhya Pradesh Police in December 2015, and filed a chargesheet in 2017 after booking the accused for offences under sections related to conspiracy, forgery and tampering with electronic and other documentary evidence.
In November, a special CBI court in Bhopal sentenced 30 people to seven years’ imprisonment in connection with the scam. The alleged kingpin of the scam was sentenced to 10 years in jail.