| M.M. Joshi with Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah at an exhibition at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday. (PTI)
Nov. 23: In the backdrop of a tussle between human resource development minister Murli Manohar Joshi and the nation’s premier business schools, it was revealed today that the question paper for the common admission test held by the Indian institutes of management had leaked.
As 1.27 lakh candidates across the country were writing the test — CAT — this morning, the CBI got on the phone to Joshi’s ministry to inform it that the question paper had found its way into the market.
The CBI said it had arrested four persons, including three doctors from Bihar, from a hotel near Mahipalpur on the Delhi-Gurgaon Road while they were apparently concluding a deal with four candidates yesterday. Raids were being conducted at other places.
Five more people were picked up today from near the Pune University square by police there.
CBI officials said the three doctors who were acting as touts were demanding Rs 2-4 lakh from each candidate. The mastermind, Ranjit Singh, hailing from the Hilsa area of Nalanda, about 48 km from Patna, is suspected to have had a hand in leaking papers for other state-level and all-India examinations.
The HRD ministry cancelled the test in the afternoon, by when the two-hour examination was over. It was not clear, though, on what authority the ministry announced the cancellation since the test is held jointly by the six IIMs.
A statement issued by the director of IIM Ahmedabad, Prafulla Dholakia, in the evening appeared to indicate that the institutes had not yet treated the test as having been scrapped.
“CAT will be officially cancelled after the CBI gives a written statement of their findings to Prof. Devi Singh of IIM Lucknow, who is handling the situation in Delhi along with the agency, and it will be verified if the leaked question paper matches the question paper given to students today,” he told PTI.
Late tonight, PTI quoted an IIM Ahmedabad official as saying that the test has been formally cancelled.
Dholakia had added that the CAT group, which has representatives from all IIMs, would have the final say in calling off the examination.
The ministry, however, has assumed that authority. “The institutes have full autonomy in academic matters but when it comes to administrative failure or malpractice we have to intervene,” said a senior official. The ministry has ordered an internal inquiry.
IIMs, at least the top three — Ahmedabad, Calcutta and Bangalore — have been engaged in a struggle with the ministry, which has been trying to impose an all-India management entrance test that it will conduct. The three IIMs have not agreed to this because they see in the move a plot by the ministry to snatch control.
Early this morning, the CBI contacted IIM Ahmedabad. CBI sources said they did not get a response to whether the leaked paper matched the original.
Ministry sources, speaking anonymously, put out through a news agency that the probe would examine why IIM Ahmedabad did not react.
Dholakia said: “What action would I have taken' Such reports of paper leaks have to be verified first. As many as 1.27 lakh students had appeared for the examination in 26 cities and if the facts of the scam unearthed were true, then the entire system needs an amendment,” he added.
He felt the only point of leak could be the press, which has been printing CAT papers for long. The Institute of Banking Personnel Services, a semi-government organisation, handles the printing. Apparently, test papers for banking services had leaked before from this press without causing too much of a ripple.
The decision to cancel the test appears to have been taken without consulting the IIMs. “We haven’t received any information either from the CBI or the ministry,” said Shekhar Chaudhuri, director, IIM Calcutta.
“We may have to go for a retest. That decision will be taken jointly by the IIMs,” he added.