The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Inconsistencies that forced IIMs to hold fire

Ahmedabad, Nov. 26: The Indian institutes of management had almost made up their mind to challenge the human resou-rce development ministry’s announcement of cancellation of the common admission test (CAT) last Sunday over an alleged leak of the question paper.

They had to change their mind.

There were inconsistencies between the information the IIM Lucknow director, A. Devi Singh, who was handling the case with the CBI, passed on to the IIM fraternity and the content of the FIR that was filed by the investigating agency.

Singh told his IIM colle- agues that when CBI officials visited an examination centre in Delhi, they asked for the four versions of CAT question papers and headed off to their headquarters.

The centre’s supervisor, an IIM Lucknow faculty member, was taken along, but was not allowed to enter the CBI office and waited outside. She was informed after 15 minutes that the original CAT papers had matched the sheets the CBI had confiscated from a hotel on the previous night and was asked to go back to the centre.

Based on this version, the IIMs were planning to contest the claim of a leak. “No one had seen those papers confiscated by the CBI. Besides, there was no witness to confirm that the contents of the allegedly leaked papers matched those of the original test papers. So, there was hardly any evidence to establish a leak,” said an IIM source.

But on Tuesday, the IIMs received a copy of the FIR, which was different from Singh’s version, along with a few pages the CBI had seized during the hotel raid.

The FIR said the CBI officials went to the examination centre, a school, at 11.30 am and in the presence of witnesses — the supervisor, the school’s principal and two others — matched the original papers and those it had confiscated. All the questions were tallied and the process completed at 3.30 pm. The witnesses signed on both the original and the confiscated question papers, which the CBI officials kept with them.

“The copy of the FIR came as a shock and there was hardly any option left other than announcing a retest,” added the source.

Both the IIM Lucknow director and the chairperson of its admissions committee have been asked about this inconsistency at the meeting of the CAT Group, which oversees the test process, and by the directors.

Since firefighting is the priority now, no one is talking about the issue in public. But it will crop up once the crisis blows over, many believe.

Whether the CAT Group had ever considered drawing up contingency plans in the event of a question paper leak is the other big question that is doing the rounds across campuses.

“There is a learning involved as this incident will help tie up some of the loose ends and enable putting in place a better system,” said the source.

With the ministry pressing them to shift to a common national test, over which they will have no control, it cannot be said with any certainty that the IIMs will get an opportunity to use this learning.

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