March 29: One of the noblest professions in the world has fallen prey to one of the oldest diseases: cheating.
The CBI today claimed that some doctors got together to carry the question paper for the all-India post-graduate medical entrance examination to colleagues outside the halls, who sent back answers through SMS to MBBS graduates taking the test inside.
The entrance examination was conducted by the jewel in India’s healthcare crown ' the All India Institute of Medical Sciences ' in January this year. The test is the stepping stone to post-graduate courses in premier medical education institutes.
According to the CBI, what brought the racket to light was that the doctors involved turned out to be too smart.
Out of the candidates shortlisted for the 1,006 seats, 421 had taken the test in Chennai centres. What is more, 37 names from the same region figured among the top 100.
The confluence of academic brilliance set the Union health ministry thinking, prompting the secretary to alert the CBI through a formal complaint. The CBI then carried out raids in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
The investigative agency suspects that two doctors from Pondicherry and a person from Tamil Nadu’s Madurai were the kingpins. They had charged up to Rs 10 lakh from each of the candidates, CBI sources said.
“They took the help of SMS service to cheat. The question paper was taken out of the examination hall and the answers were provided by a group of doctors waiting outside. The answers were sent back to the hall over mobile phones,” a CBI officer said.
“We also found out that some candidates were allowed to take cell phones inside the hall for receiving answers to the objective type questions,” the officer added.
As many as 36,945 aspirants to the post-graduate course had taken the test in 51 centres spread over the country. Ten of these centres were in Chennai.
The CBI has so far registered cases against 28 doctors for offences ranging from cheating to forgery to corruption. Twenty-two of the doctors are based in Tamil Nadu, while six are from Delhi.
Cases have been filed against some officials based in Delhi, too, without whose help the cheating could not have gone unnoticed at the halls.
The investigative agency did not give the break-up of those who took the test and those who connived in the cheating. A CBI spokesperson said the identity of the accused would be revealed after the investigation is over.
The premises raided by the CBI included that of several doctors. In Tamil Nadu, the searches were conducted in Chennai, Erode, Madurai, Dindigul, Cuddalore, Kanyakumari, Salem, Villupuram, Namakkal and Tuticorin.
This is the second time the post-graduate entrance examination is coming under the glare. In 2000, the CBI had probed a question paper leak case and chargesheets have been filed against the accused.
Medical education is one link in a chain of coveted courses that has become vulnerable to fraud in the age of rat race. In 2004, the question paper for another gilt-edged screening examination, CAT, was leaked.