Tampered computers gave NEET-PG applicants a lifeline

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The Crime Branch of the Delhi Police has filed a charge sheet in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Satish Kumar Arora here against officials of Prometric Testing Pvt Ltd, hired by the National Board of Examinations (NBE), to conduct the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) in November 2016 for admissions to post graduate medical courses.

Nearly one lakh students appeared for the PG entrance examination, competing for 35,117 post graduate seats across the country.

Remote access given

According to the charge sheet, accessed by The Hindu, computers at the examination centres managed by Prometric were compromised. In some cases, select computers were installed with a remote, screen sharing software, Ammy, allowing ‘solvers’ outside to select the correct answers for the students.

In other instances, site supervisors, engineers and officials deployed by Promteric tampered with the security system and ensured that select candidates got access to the Internet by connecting remotely to another computer outside the examination hall, the police said.

The Crime Branch is investigating officials of Prometric and the National Board of Examinations (NBE). The charge sheet states that the involvement of “officials at the National Board of Examinations and Promterics” cannot be ruled out.

Sources in the Crime Branch said a list of 500 students has been prepared in a supplementary charge sheet.

Investigations revealed that the NBE contracted Prometric, which then sub-contracted the conducting of the tests to yet another company, CMS IT Services Pvt Ltd for engineering and support staff. CMS IT Services further contracted out the hiring of local vendors for staff at various examination centres.

“In this way, the selection of suitable staff for the exam seems to be compromised and the security and sincerity of the exam was breached,” the charge sheet says.

According to the charge sheet, the aspirants paid between ₹2.5 to 3 lakh to access the Internet during the exam. In one centre in Chandigarh, the site supervisor, one Ankur Mishra (named in the charge sheet) and hired by CMS IT Services, left slips with answers for select candidates.

The NBE is also under investigation for hiring Promteric, an American company, without inviting tenders from other companies. The Crime Branch says Prometric’s staff reformatted the computers and destroyed evidence after the exam.

Echoes of Vyapam

Dr Anand Rai, whistle blower in the Madhya Pradesh medical entrance examination, better known as the VYAPAM scam, and a complainant in the present case said, “The NBE handed over the contract to Promteric without inviting tenders. Promteric has admitted to formatting evidence on the computers [after the NEET], which should have been maintained for a minimum of five years. This is a gross violation of the Indian Evidence Act.”

Soumitra Roy, Country Manager, Prometric India said the company was “not aware of any such development” adding, “We proactively continue to support the authorities in their investigation.”