Judicial officers’ recruitment: Exam Paper goes for crores

COMPLICIT IN CHEATING

The inquiry found that Sharma had provided the examination paper to Sunita, a candidate known to him. She subsequently topped the written examination and also provided the question paper to another candidate, Sushila, who topped in the reserved category.

Both were students at a coaching centre in Chandigarh. While sharing videos of classes, Sushila is reported to have accidentally shared an audio clip where she is talking to another girl and offering the leaked question paper for Rs 1.5 crore. When Suman, who was also studying in the same coaching centre, questioned Sushila about it, she made the same offer to her too. Although Suman refused, she started recording her conversations with Sushila and later moved the High Court through her husband.

Sharma stated before the officer conducting the preliminary inquiry that he was “being made a scapegoat to save someone”. However, he didn’t name anyone and couldn’t provide any evidence to back his claims. Initially, he denied that he was acquainted with Sunita. However, investigations revealed that he was in touch with her and had exchanged at least 760 calls and text messages with her. Confronted with the evidence, Sharma had no reply. The question paper was set by two sitting judges of the High Court, Justices TS Dhindsa and AK Mittal.

THREE COMPLAINTS

The inquiry report said the High Court had received three anonymous complaints where it was alleged that two relatives of a senior High Court official had appeared in the HCS (Judicial Branch) Examination, 2017. The complaints stated that even the “practice of having non temperable seals on the question papers was not found for the examination (and) which was simply pasted with glued white paper and no videography of candidates was done”.

Sharma was not only part of the exercise to prepare the question paper since May but was also in possession of the paper with the master answer key in his pen drive till a day after the examination on July 17.

The High Court bench ordered that the FIR be lodged in Chandigarh as the leakage took place in this city. Manoj Kumar, the complainant and Suman’s husband, has been questioned by the police. The FIR was lodged against Sharma, Sunita and Sushila under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (Sections 8, 9 and 13 (1-D) and 13-2), besides IPC 409, 420 and 120-B.

The High Court is likely to monitor this case and appears keen to nail the accused to maintain the honour of the Court. The irony is that the selection procedure for Haryana judicial services had come in for high praise when CBI Special Judge Jagdeep Singh, barely six years into service, had displayed rare courage in convicting and sentencing Gurmeet Ram Rahim, chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda.

With the exam scrapped and no new dates being announced, all eyes are now on nailing the accused who leaked the question paper.

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