PATNA: Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) has ordered an inquiry into the alleged leak of the question paper of the 67th Combined (Preliminary) Competitive Examination held on Sunday across the state at 1,083 centres, commission secretary Juit Singh said.
The probe was ordered after reports that question papers were being sent via messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram before turning up on social media platforms.
Singh said that prima facie, it appeared that questions were leaked from an examination centre just before the exam was scheduled to start at 12 noon.
Over six lakh candidates applied for Sunday’s first stage examination that was meant to shortlist aspirants for 802 posts in Bihar’s civil services. The candidates had to be at least graduates and over the age of 20 to apply.
Those who clear the preliminary examination would have been eligible to appear for the second round of examinations held to recruit middle-rung officials such as deputy superintendent of police, sub-divisional officers, block development officers and state revenue officers.
The probe committee, headed by Singh and comprising two deputy secretaries of the commission, Manoj Kumar and Kundan Kumar, has been given 24 hours to report its findings.
“Sensing the gravity of the situation, the commission immediately announced an inquiry by a three-member committee, which has to submit its report within 24 hours for further action. The matter will also be referred to the cyber cell of the Bihar police for a deeper probe to identify the exam centre from where it happened and the extent to which it affected the examination,” said the secretary, adding that the commission was informed about question paper leak and reports of it getting viral around 12.06 pm through WhatsApp by a TV channel and the exam had commenced by then.
The examination, which was initially scheduled to be held on 23 January, was to be held on May 7. But it was deferred by a day because it clashed with the CBSE Class 12 examination.
Singh said that the commission’s initial information indicated that one of the four sets of question papers ( Set C) was leaked moments before the three-hour exam was to begin at 12 noon.
“The information was regarding C-set and when verified it was found to be true. But by the time the information arrived, the exam started. At the exam centres, there is thorough frisking and the candidates are not allowed any mobile or electronic gadget inside,” he added.
The official said that even if some mischief was played probably at any of the centres, it would be impossible to solve the papers and supply the answers to the candidates inside the hall.
“There is adequate force, static magistrates and flying squads at the exam centres. A final decision on the fate of the exam will, however, be taken after the report by the three-member committee is submitted and the inputs of the cyber cell on the extent to which the questions went viral. The matter 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 that the highest number of candidates – over six lakh as compared to 4-4.5 lakh who applied in the past – had applied for the exam this year, necessitating them to use many new centres.
“The seal of the question papers is opened half an hour before the scheduled start of the exam. The exam began at 12 noon and the question paper of Set C seems to have been leaked around after 11.30 pm, when the seal of question papers was opened, from any of the centres. This will be examined. The probability shows that it happened from one of the centres,” he added.
Many candidates learnt of the paper leak after they exited the exam centres, and were dejected. At some locations, there were protests outside the exam centres over the paper leak.