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CBI lodges FIR in NET answer-sheet scam

New Delhi: The CBI has registered a case against senior CBSE official Antriksh Johri and some other government officials for allegedly hiring a private firm to scan the answer-sheets of 7.94 lakh in this year’s National Eligibility Test (NET), an official said on Friday.

The agency’s move comes after the private firm failed to complete the scanning of answer-sheets of the UGC-NET exam held on January 22 this year at around 500 centres in 90 cities, the official said, adding the FIR was registered three days ago.

He said that the firm, Venus Digital, was paid over Rs 1 crore for the job.

Johri, who is Director, IT, at the Central Board of Secondary Education), some unidentified officials of the board and Kapil Soorma, representative of Venus Digital Service situated in West Delhi’s Patel Nagar and Karol Bagh areas, were booked for alleged corruption, criminal conspiracy and criminal misconduct.

Sources said that the Central Bureu of Investigation (CBI) has also collected documents from CBSE office but the agency officially didn’t divulge any details about the searches.

The CBSE conducts a number of examinations throughout the year which includes the medical entrance exam, the exam for recruitment to Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti and the UGC-NET.

Wherever the examination consists of objective type questions, the answers to the same are marked in Optical Mark Reading (OMR) sheets which is subsequently scanned. The selection of a company is done by CBSE through an open tender for the same.

The contract to scan answer sheets for selecting Assistant Professors for Universities and Junior Research fellows among others was given to Venus Digital.

The work for 412 centres in 18 cities was given at the rate of Rs 25,000 per centre to the company, which CBI says was done without any tender and at arbitrary rates.

It is alleged in the FIR that the work order to the tune of Rs 1.03 crore covering 412 centre in 18 cities was given to the company despite it being on record of the CBSE that the firm does not exist at its Karol Bagh address.

For the remaining centres of 72 cities, the OMR sheets were to be brought to CBSE Delhi and then scanned, it alleged.

“It is further alleged that the work order was issued by Deputy Secretary UGC, NET, on the instructions of Johri despite objections by the Deputy Secretary UGC, NET and Director UGC, NET,” the FIR mentioned.

It is further alleged that Venus Digital was not able to carry out scanning at all the 412 centres earlier intimated by them for which work order was issued, which resulted in much of the OMR sheets not being scanned as of now.

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