Mumbai: Mumbai police have arrested four persons, three of them students, after Maharashtra HSC Class 12 board papers were found leaked and circulated on Social Media platforms. The Maharashtra HSC board official however ruled out holding re-exams of the leaked papers.
According to reports, two days after the HSC Secretarial Practice and Physics papers were leaked on WhatsApp, the Mathematics and Statistics papers for all three streams — Arts, Science and Commerce — went viral on the messaging application at least 30 minutes before the exam on Monday.
Shots of the papers were shared on a students group on the messaging application at 10.30 am, while the papers were handed out to examinees at 10.50 am and the exam began at 11 am.
Mathematics and statistics are a common subject for all three streams. Arts and science have the same question paper, while commerce students are given a different paper.
“Both the question papers have come out on WhatsApp, we matched them to the original papers and found that they are the same,” said Dattatray Jagtap, chairperson of the Mumbai divisional board, which includes Thane, Palghar and Raigad too.
Adding that a girl student was caught looking at the images in the exam room, Jagtap said, “We immediately informed the centre to lodge a police complaint against her.” The girl will be allowed to write the exam for now, and later on action will be taken against her depending on the investigation.
The Mumbai division of the Maharashtra State Board has filed a complaint with the Vashi police station, adding to the case against HSC Marathi and the other two papers that were leaked back to back.
On receiving a complaint, the Navi Mumbai Police registered two separate cases of offence--Marathi paper was leaked on March 2, paper on Secretarial Practice was leaked on March 4.
The accused have been identified as Rahul Bachelal Bhaskar (22), Azaruddin Kamaruddin Shaikh (20), Mohammad Aman Mohammad Islam Shaikh (19) and Suresh Jha (26). Among them, Jha is a tuition teacher.
According to Vashi Police, the arrested accused were involved in forwarding the message on WhatsApp. Police are yet to trace the source of the messages.
The accused have been booked under relevant sections of the Maharashtra Prevention of Malpractices at University, Board and Other Specified Examination Act as well as under the Information Technology Act.
While at this point, the board is unsure about who ‘leaked’ the paper, they suspect it to be a supervisor’s job, as they have access to the papers at the time it was leaked.
“It could have been anybody, a student or a teacher,” said Dattatray Jagtap, Divisional Secretary, who received the complaint.
“It is not a leak, it is a malpractice", he added.
Jagtap also said that it needs to be ascertained whether the paper was released from the Mumbai division or any other part of the state.
“We are going to file a complaint with the cyber crime cell tomorrow (Friday) to understand where the images originated from and if they reached large numbers of students,” said Jagtap.
When asked whether they will consider holding a re-exam, official said that the paper might not have reached a large number of students, because they were in exam hall by 10:50 am, but there was no denying that a student might have walked into the exam hall late after seeing the images.
“We have no proof that the paper reached students before they entered the exam hall,” said Gangadhar Mhamane, Chairperson of the board.
In the past two years, the board has filed police complaints after papers were released on the social media, but hasn’t found the culprit. The board did not hold re-exams after the previous two incidents.