Chennai, March 31: A professor at one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious colleges ' the Presidency College in Chennai ' was today arrested by the CBI in the medical entrance exam fraud.
Professor Kathamuthu, from the commerce department, is accused of helping examinees cheat. Presidency was one of the centres for the all-India post-graduate medical entrance exam, held in January, and he was a supervisor.
Kathamuthu was produced before a CBI special court along with the four alleged masterminds ' promising doctors aged between 26 and 30 ' and two others.
Office assistants Raghuvaran Nair and Manoharan of Asan Memorial School and Pachaiyappas’ College respectively were also arrested today on charges of helping in the fraud. Both institutes were exam centres.
All seven have been remanded in judicial custody till April 13. Additionally, the four doctors, who hung their heads in court to avoid media glare, will be in CBI custody till Monday evening.
P. Satish Kumar, Vijay Kanna, Ravi Kannan and N. Bhaskar ' the first two are MD students and the others senior resident physicians at the prestigious Jawaharlal Institute of Post-graduate Medical Education and Research in Pondicherry ' appeared crestfallen. They had nearly pulled off the scam, till the stunning success of candidates at some Chennai centres made the authorities sit up and decide to investigate.
The parents of some of the accused, who had come to court, were allowed to have a word with them.
The Supreme Court is likely to hear on Monday pleas by doctors seeking a directive to the government not to cancel the exam conducted by AIIMS. Twelve successful candidates have moved court, saying only students found guilty by the CBI should be punished. A total of 36,945 candidates had taken the exam, out of whom over 4,000 were successful.
In Chennai, special judge Bhaskaran was stunned when the CBI counsel described how a pen-size camera, which can scan a page in four seconds, was smuggled in by examinees and used to scan the question sheets. It was “thrown out” with the connivance of staff at the centre and plugged into a computer, counsel Sounderarajan said. Printouts of the questions were taken and sent to a group of doctors, who SMSed replies to examinees carrying cell phones.
“This fraud has taken place throughout India,” he said, adding it needed further probe.
Sounderarajan said that on exam day, some of the examinees sat idle from 10 am to 11.15 am. They wrote the answers from 11.30 am to 1 pm, after receiving them by SMS. Since it was a multi-choice objective-type question paper, time was not a problem.
The CBI said raids on the premises of 22 other doctors had made possible the arrest of the four, who had “organised” the racket for a fee ranging from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 30 lakh per candidate. The CBI also seized some cash, which was produced in court today.