PATNA: The Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) has ordered an investigation into the alleged leak of the questionnaire from the 67th Combined (Preliminary) Competitive Inquiry conducted by the state on Sunday at 1,083 centers, said commission secretary Juit Singh.
The probe was ordered after reports that questionnaires were sent via messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram before appearing on social media platforms.
Singh said at first glance it appeared as if questions had been leaked from an exam center just before the exam was due to start at 12 noon.
More than six lakh candidates applied for Sunday’s first exam, which was to shortlist candidates for 802 posts in Bihar’s government departments. Candidates had to be at least graduated and over 20 to be able to apply.
Those who passed the preliminary examination would have been eligible to appear for the second round of exams held to recruit mid-level officials such as Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sub-Department Officers, Block Development Officers and State Tax Officials.
The Commission of Inquiry, headed by Singh and made up of two deputy secretaries of the commission, Manoj Kumar and Kundan Kumar, has been given 24 hours to report its findings.
“The commission sensed the gravity of the situation and immediately announced an investigation by a three-member commission, which must submit its report within 24 hours for further action. The case will also be referred to the cyber cell of the Bihar Police for a deeper investigation to identify the examination center where it happened and the extent to which it affected the investigation,” the secretary said, adding that the commission was aware of the question paper leak and reports that it went viral via WhatsApp by a TV station around 12:06 pm and the exam had already started by then.
The exam, originally scheduled to take place on January 23, was to be held on May 7. But it was postponed for a day because it collided with the CBSE Class 12 exam.
Singh said the committee’s initial information indicated that one of the four sets of questions (set C) had been leaked just before the three-hour exam was due to begin at noon.
“The information related to C-set and upon verification, it was found to be true. But by the time the information arrived, the exam had begun. The examination centers are subject to thorough searches and candidates are not allowed to enter any mobile or electronic gadgets,” he added.
The official said that even if some mischief was likely to be played in one of the centers, it would be impossible to solve the papers and give the answers to the candidates in the hall.
“There is sufficient force, static magistrates and flying squadrons at the examination centers. However, a final decision on the fate of the exam will be made after the report of the three-member committee is submitted and input from the cyber cell on the extent to which the questions have gone viral. The case will be referred to the cyber cell to get to the bottom of the matter as it is the first time BPSC exam papers have been leaked,” he added.
Singh said the highest number of candidates – more than six lakh compared to 4-4.5 lakh who had applied in the past – had applied for the exam this year, forcing them to use many new centers.
“The seal of the question papers is opened half an hour before the scheduled start of the exam. The exam started at 12 noon and the set C questionnaire appears to have been leaked around 11:30 pm when the seal of the question papers was opened from one of the centers. This will be investigated. The probability shows that it happened from one of the centers,” he added.
Many candidates learned of the paper leak after they left the exam centers and were depressed. The paper leak was protested at some locations outside the exam centers.