The Supreme Court on Thursday favoured setting up of a three-member high-powered committee comprising Nandan Nilekani, a co-founder of tech giant Infosys, and renowned computer scientist Vijay P Bhatkar to suggest reforms for conducting of competitive examinations fairly by government bodies.
The top court said it would not vacate the stay on the declaration of result of SSC combined graduate level (CGL) and combined higher secondary level (CHSL) examinations held in 2017, in which lakhs of students had appeared. A bench of Justices S A Bobde and Deepak Gupta, which posted the matter for hearing on January 17, asked advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, to suggest a name besides Nilekani and Bhatkar for constituting the panel.
The bench said the three-member high powered committee would suggest reforms to the government bodies, which conduct competitive examinations such as the SSC, as there are several cases of questions paper leaks.
Bhushan said he would suggest a name by next week.
The court asked the counsel for Centre to seek instruction on the point of cancellation of examination saying it was difficult to identify the beneficiaries of leakage of question papers.
The examination papers of the SSC CGL 2017 were allegedly leaked, leading to huge protests from job seekers for several days. Amid the protests, the SSC had recommended a CBI probe into the allegations of paper leak.
Counsel appearing for CBI, which is investigating the question paper leak case, said that FIR has been registered and people involved have been identified, therefore their was no need to cancel the 2017 examination.
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To this, the bench which was not convinced with contention of CBI said it was not possible either identify the beneficiaries of question paper leaks or who all are innocents.
It also refused to vacate its August 31 last year order staying declaration of results of the SSC examination.
On November 13, last year the apex court had asked the CBI to submit its final report regarding the probe into the alleged leak of papers of the 2017 Staff Selection Commission (SSC) examination.
The apex court had earlier favoured cancelling the 2017 SSC examination, whose declaration of result was stayed by the court in August, last year and holding it afresh by the National Testing Agency or the CBSE “in the interest of students”.
It had refused to agree with the Centre’s contention that the examination held in February this year got “tainted” due to a technical snag and a fresh examination of one paper had been conducted thereafter.
Petitioner Shantantu Kumar, who had sought cancellation of examination, had said that contract of private company Sify Technologies, which had conducted the SSC examination, was now over.
As reported by the indianexpress earlier, the new contract has been given to TCSiON which also conducts the exam on behalf of NTA, including the UGC NET and JEE Main. The exams are going to be on NTA-like format. There are even reports that the NTA might get to conduct the exam as SC had earlier suggested that the responsibility of conducting SSC CGL should be given to either CBSE or NTA.
The Centre had termed the allegations of paper leak as “bald and in general” and opposed the contention for scrapping the entire examinations.
On August 31, the apex court had stayed the declaration of result of the SSC CGL and Combined Higher Secondary Level (CHSL)
Examination held in 2017, in which lakhs of students had appeared, saying it seemed that the entire test and the system was “tainted”.
The SSC is a government body which conducts examinations to recruit staff at multiple levels in various ministries and departments. Several lakh students appear in the SSC examination each year and enter government services in Group C and D Categories of jobs once they qualify.
The SSC Combined Graduate Level exam has a four-tier system, in which tier I and tier II are computer-based, while in tier III and IV, job applicants take up a descriptive paper and a computer proficiency test or skill test.