Mumbai: For a relief to hundreds of thousands of students who are appearing for the HSC i.e. Class 12 exams in the state, the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Seondary Education (MSBSHSE) Tuesday ruled out holding any re-exam after some of the board papers were found "leaked" and circulated on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.
The HSC Class 12 students and parents were panicked, making frenzied phone calls to one another to know if the board will be holding re-exams of the papers which were claimed to be "leaked" on the social media.
Tension escalated as the HSC Class 12 exams are still underway and the students were unable to concentrate on their studies due to the re-exam rumours.
The state education board in a swift move however put to rest all such rumours, stating in a determined tone that no board papers were actually leaked and hence there is no question of holding re-exam.
“It is not a leak, it is a malpractice", Dattatray Jagtap, Divisional Secretary Mumbai Division Board said.
“There seems to be a pattern. The papers are "leaked" when they are about to be distributed. Students are seated by 10:30 am and receive their papers by 10:50 am.
"The papers are circulated 40 minutes before the exams start. We suspect students who leak the paper deliberately turn up late for the exams at around 11:30 am, which is the deadline to enter the examination hall. We have directed teachers to keep an eye on all late comers to curb copying among students", Jagtap said.
In reply to a question whether the board will consider holding a re-exam, Gangadhar Mhamane, Chairperson of the board 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,” he added.
On the other hands, Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawade refused to accept that the HSC Class 12 papers were leaked.
"A leak is when the paper is out a day or at least an hour before an exam; a few minutes are not enough to give candidates an unfair advantage", the minister is quoted as saying in the media.
Five exam papers have been leaked in five days in the ongoing HSC exams — Mathematics and Statistics on Monday, Secretarial Practice and Physics on Saturday and Marathi on Thursday.
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.
After the incident, the Mumbai Division of the Maharashtra State Board filed a complaint with the Vashi police station. On receiving a complaint, the police arrested four persons.
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.