Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department’s interim report on the alleged KPSC recruitment scam has indicted various officials exposed in the TV9 sting operation a few months ago, in the alleged demand for ‘under-the-table’ money from KAS aspirants. The investigation was carried out after a FIR was filed by the Department of Public Administration and Reforms (DPAR).
The report by CID of Karnataka confirms large scale malpractice, corruption and favouritism in the selection of Grade A Gazetted Probationary Exams of 2011. Apart from the eight people named in the FIR, CID has found out the involvement of many others who acted as intermediaries.
On May 22 2013, Kannada news channel TV9 aired a sting operation ‘KPSC Karmakanda’ that blew the lid off the KPSC recruitment scam. The sting exposed the “going rate” for various class-I and class-II posts, and how the talent and marks obtained by the candidates lost value in the game of money.
One of the aspirants, Dr Mythri, who dreamed of becoming Deputy Superintendent, was contacted by a tout who promised her of good marks in the interview if she paid 60 lakhs. she contacted the TV channel, and in turn a sting operation was planned. A middleman named Sudhir, who is also a BWSSB Assistant Exicutive Engineer, and a BDA Executive Engineer Somesh (Somanath), revealed the vicious circle of graft, where KPSC chairman himself appoints some followers to collect cash from the aspirants and book the posts.
The footages were authenticated from True labs. The accused in the footages escaped and were later found in Sangamner village, Nashik, Maharashtra.
Similar cases were reported and investigated back in 1998, 1999 and 2004. Chargesheet was filed against then-KPSC Secretary A K Monappa and Chairman H N Krishna. Loopholes were pointed out and recommendations were given to improve the KPSC evaluation system and adopt measures like in UPSC exams. The cases related are still being heard in the court.
2013 saw a similar outrage. This time, Deputy Secretary of Department of Public Administration and Reforms, Devaraju, filed the FIR at Vidhana Soudha Police Station against Chairman of KPSC and seven other members.
On recording of 215 witnesses and scrutinising 700 phone records, documents from 75 branches of 55 banks and authenticating the videos presented in media, marksheets and after getting the papers re-evaluated from experts, CID found that discrepancies were way beyond just taking money.
Cr no. 28 / 2013 was lodged under various sections of Indian Penal Code and section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988. It was handed over to Criminal Investigation Department, on 27 June 2013. A team of seven Deputy Senior Superintendents of Police and 12 Inspectors and officers was formed for investigation, under the direct guidance of Director General Inspector Police,CID, Special units and Economic offences, Bipin Gopalkrishna.
Along with the documents, files and phone records, assets of all the accused were also investigated. CID in the report mentioned that the chargesheet is yet to be filed against many of the accused.
The FIR was a compilation of 12 allegations that unearthed the way the examinations are conducted.
Malpractice during evaluation
Examinations were held across the state at various schools and colleges on the decided dates. No malpractice was found or heard then. It all started behind the curtains when the candidates were eagerly waiting to know their fate.
According to Rule 90 of the KPSC manual, Vol-I, the appointment of Examiners/ Evaluators may be made from the panel of evaluators/ examiners recommended by the Registrars of various Universities or other competent authorities. To be eligible for evaluation, professors are required to have minimum 10 years of teaching experience in the relevant subject.
However, the rules were partially followed. KPSC did prepare a list of authorised evaluators from Mysore and Bangalore universities but never called them.
Out of 13663 listed evaluators, only 794 evaluators appeared to be attended, 639 evaluators were actually present. Among them, 266 evaluators were repeated and many of them were retired professors. The names of 155 professors of who corrected the papers were not even included in the list of evaluators sent by the universities.
Only five evaluators corrected the entire set of 633 papers of Anthropology part 1. Out of them three professors were retired. For Chemistry, papers were checked by only two retired professors.
In the previous years – 2008, 2009, 2010 – the number of days taken to evaluate was approximately 95 to 100 days. But in 2011 even with less number of professors in hand and more papers to be evaluated, it took just 85 days to complete the correction procedures.
Geography candidates given extra marks
On the chairman’s order, evaluators awarded more marks to the candidates who opted Geography as one of their optional subject. To carry out the orders smoothly,15 unauthorised evaluators checked the Geography papers. 15% of the candidates who cleared the Preliminary exams had Geography as their optional subject.
Misuse of third evaluation
KPSC uses sample paper correction system. According to this system, if the difference between first and second evaluator is more than 45 marks or 15%, then the paper is to re-evaluated by third evaluator.
CID found out that in 94.23% of the cases, the third evaluator gave more than 1st and the 2nd evaluator. In 44.23% of cases the percentage of difference between marks given by 1st/2nd and 3rd evaluator was more than 50%.
Since it was difficult to figure out any discrepancy, CID reevaluated some sample papers from university experts. This was done for those candidates who earned highest marks in entrance exams and personality exams, who were in constant touch with evaluators and the members of KPSC or came from the same family. They either had any specific allegations, or scored more than 390 marks in Geography.
On comparing expert’s first, second and third evaluation marks with that of KPSC’s evaluators, it was noticed that many of the candidates were given more percentage of marks. The CID report quotes: “The re-evaluation from experts resulted into gross differences in marks. This led to probing further to establish the linkages between the candidates and the evaluators and the members of KPSC.”
During the crucial period of checking papers, few students were found in constant touch with evaluators. Procuring phone records of the candidates was little difficult for CID as calls were made from different numbers to the evaluators while some evaluators destroyed the sim card. However, CID managed to nail a few in the contact list of Hemchandra and L T Naik. Both were the evaluators of Geography papers and were found constantly in contact with candidates from December till March.
Once preliminary examination’s marks were announced, some candidates who were unsatisfied went for re-evaluation. However the the personality test dates were scheduled within 13 days, on April 1, 2 and 3, 2013.
As per the KPSC rules, a month’s time is given to the candidates to prepare for the interview. They openly flouted this rule. On the other hand State Legislative Assembly election was commencing on April 23, 2013. On account of Model Code of Conduct, Election Commission ordered that the test be withheld.
KPSC disregarded the orders and conducted the test on April 1 and 2, 2013. However, it was later held back when Principal Secretary of the State in a letter cautioned KPSC that selected list will be invalid and KPSC along with its Secretary will be held responsible. However, very soon on April 27, 2013, the interviews were held and results were announced.
Those who wanted re-totalling lose the chance
Students unsatisfied with the marks went for re-totalling of papers. The KSPC (Functions) and (Amendment) Rules 1986 states that KPSC is mandated to provide 60 days from the day of the publication of result, to allow re-totalling of marks on request after the declaration of results.
In this case, the application for re-totalling was opened on March 16, 2013. But only nine days were granted to them from March 17, 2013 to March 26, 2013. The cut-off marks for interview was set way too before the re-totalling of marks were declared. The re-totalling marks were declared on April 19, while April 27 was the last day of personality test which resulted in denial of rights of the candidates.
Marks given to top-paying candidates
On March 16, 2013 final marks were declared and the game was set in motion. Some members of KPSC folded their sleeves and got on to business, as it was the only chance for the year. As marks were announced, the top-listed candidates and the undeserving candidates were called up and positions were traded for huge sum.
Two interview committees of members of KPSC were set up for personality test. Members were supposed to interview the students and immediately record their marks and put the signatures at the end of each paper. The mark sheets were supposed to be sealed in an envelope and sent to the secretary for tabulation.
However, on investigation, it was revealed that the procedures were not followed as per the KPSC guidelines. Instead, the KPSC members would take interviews at the usual time but enter marks only at the end of the day to ensure the “paying candidates” got what they paid for.
Personal Secretary to Chairman of KPSC, Gopikrishna, in his statement to Judicial Magistrate revealed this hideous way of awarding marks to the paying candidates.
The 185-page interim report by CID on KPSC recruitment scam was submitted to the Chief Secretary and Home Secretary, Government of Karnataka, on September 10, 2013. The final report of 1500 pages would be submitted to the Government soon.
While all other parties kept silent, the members of Lok Satta party agitated against the non-action by the government repeatedly in the month of December 2013. The party has been repeatedly demanding action from the government. The interim report submitted to the government was made public by the members of Lok Satta party.
Lok Satta has demanded that –
1) The recruitments done in 2011 be recalled;
2) The interests of honest candidates who appeared for 2011 examinations be protected;
3) Taking action against the accused named in CID report
4) Functioning of KPSC be designed on the lines of Union Public Service Commission, to ensure transparency
5) Restart recruitments after cleaning up KPSC, as government departments are facing shortage of officers.
Ravi Krishna Reddy, a member of Lok Satta party says that on Tuesday, January 14, 2014, the party members would be meeting the governor with the demands. Statewide agitations have been going on for a while in this respect, and the Convener of Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, S R Hiremath will be addressing the press in Bangalore on Friday, January 17, 2014, in this regard.
The party has uploaded the interim CID report on their website too.
‘Pay, or forget the top job’
Scrutinising the marksheets revealed how the lowest rankers were given 150 marks to elevate them from the bottom rank to the top. One such case was brought into light by the candidate, Dr. Mythri, one of the candidates who had filed a petition against the KPSC Member Mangala Sridhar. She was one of the top rank holders under ST(W) with a score of 1009. Before the personality test, Mythri was asked to visit Mangala’s office. There she was asked to pay Rs 70 lakhs, to get Assistant Commissioner’s post.
If the candidates showed unwillingness and incapability to pay the money, the members would threaten them that the seat would be given to the next rank holder.
In Mythri’s case, Mangala threatened her seat to be given to Supriya Banagar who had scored 975 in her preliminary examinations. But, Mythri didn’t budge. After the visit, Mythri constantly received calls from Mangala and her Personal Assistant Ashok Kumar, asking her to visit Mangala’s office for negotiations.
Soon, on April 1, 2013, personality interviews were conducted and to Mythri’s surprise she scored only 75 while others scored 150. this was exactly what Mangala had warned her about.
An open invitation was given to all the candidates who attended the interview to act as a witness proof. For which CID received good response. Candidates told CID that interviewee asked them frivolous questions and finished the interview way before the time.
CCTV video evidence destroyed?
KPSC campus had 25 CCTV cameras. Secretary told CID that the cameras were fixed to maintain transparency in the activities of the office and prevent corruption and malpractices in the conduct of examination.
However none of the cameras were fixed in the interview rooms or chambers of the KPSC members. Instead CCTV cameras captured the activities in the open area and outside classroom premises. These cameras were connected to two Digital Video Recording systems with monitors in the Chairman’s and Secretary’s cabin to view all the ongoing activities.
The two DVRs were found intact without any damages. DVR-1 was found unhampered but DVR-2 was found to be new and replaced. On checking purchase and maintenance records and talking to the storeroom managers, CID found that Deputy Secretary on the insistence of Secretary and other members of KPSC had replaced the original 1 TB DVR with new 500 GB DVR on the very next day when the FIR was filed on June 25, 2013, as the members feared footages in the DVR would expose movements of the members, candidates and other linked agents of Chairman.
Relatives not discolsed
It is mandatory for all the KPSC members and officials to declare to Secretary if any of their ward or relative appears for any examination. Such officials and members are even expected to stay away from the conduct of such examinations. Many staff revealed the presence of their children or relatives, except some.
CID found that Chairman Gonal Bheemappa “scantily gave regards for rules and regulations.” Apart from fixing interviews and exams, he did not make declaration of his wife’s niece’s appearance in GP-2011 examination.
On the other hand, there was Assistant Secretary, Examinations II, Padmarekha, who declared her son Abhishekh Hegde’s appearance in the examination and was subsequently was kept away from the exam-related works. However her phone records revealed that she was in constant touch with members and their Private Secretaries, who were not concerned with her work but were involved in the selection process of the GP-11 examinations.
Former assistant secretary of KPSC, Arunachalam had retired from the post on 31 January 2008 but was found to be re-appointed as a special officer on February 1, 2008 and continued to be in contact on contract basis till date. He was also given charge of R H S (Rahasya) bank which was a complete violation of rules.
KSPC rules provides appointment of temporary staff for not more than three months. Beyond three months, they are expected to receive approval from the governor. On November 21, 2012, an approval was sought from the Principal Secretary, DPAR, which was rejected. But, Arunachalam continued to work for more than four years and received a salary of Rs.13.77 lakhs. CID believes his presence was crucial for KPSC for committing the malpractice in the examinations.
Going rates for various posts indicated in CID report
75 Lakhs to 1.5 Crores
60 to 80 Lakhs
ACCT / EO
50 to 60 Lakhs
Other group A posts
30 to 50 Lakhs
30 to 60 Lakhs
Asst. Directors to various Departments
Other group B posts
25 to 45 Lakhs