Police have arrested three persons from Pune for allegedly trying to leak the question paper of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority's (MHADA) recruitment exam, scheduled for Sunday, prompting the state government to cancel it.
Amid outrage over the move to not hold the exam, state Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad on Sunday said henceforth MHADA will conduct exams itself without involving any private agency as such cases of breach of trust are on the rise.
Speaking to reporters in Thane in the evening, Awhad said only one person knew about the question paper (for Sunday's exam).
"After that question paper was printed, the owner of the company kept it in his possession despite the clear instructions against doing so. He has been charged with the breach of trust," the minister said.
Earlier in the day, a Pune cyber police official had said that they had nabbed three people, including an employee of a software company appointed for setting the question papers, from the Vishrantwadi area on Saturday night after a tip-off that some people were trying to leak question papers of the exams to be held for various posts, including engineer and assistant law consultant.
"As per primary information, when the three were caught, the software firm employee, hailing from Pune, was going in a car while digitally carrying copies of the question papers along with the two other accused who were in touch with various people in the state," he said, adding that the two other accused are residents of Buldhana district.
Awhad said the cases of breach of trust by private agencies to conduct (government) examinations are on the rise of late.
"Hence MHADA has decided to conduct the exams itself and will be responsible for the entire examination," the minister said, adding that fees taken from the candidates will be refunded and no fees will be charged for the upcoming exams.
Speaking on the decision to cancel the examination scheduled on Sunday, the minister said MHADA had received information that the paper might be leaked. "Subsequently, the police took action and arrested the suspects. MHADA then decided to cancel the exams before the paper is leaked".
Awhad said he had a kind of inkling that something was amiss about the exam.
"I had warned authorities concerned three days ago to cancel the exam if they find any irregularities. Some gangs who leak question papers are currently active in Maharashtra. They need to be identified and exposed," he said.
"MHADA and the police have jointly started the process. Hence the exam was cancelled before the paper could be leaked. If the decision had been taken to cancel the exam after the paper leaked it would have been a disgrace. Moreover, it would have been unfair to sincere aspirants preparing for the exams. The government and the police worked together to unearth the racket and prevent the influential ones from getting jobs in MHADA," he said.
Awhad said the aggressive stance to cancel the exams was taken out of love for aspirants.
"Two days ago, the same company had conducted an examination for Pune Police. So how can you not trust them? We apologise to aspirants for the cancellation of the exams," he added.
The MHADA exams are scheduled on various dates from Sunday till next week for various posts, including engineer and assistant law consultant, the police officer had said.