There are countless ghost candidates who have been appearing for the civil service exam since 2003.

Over three lakh aspirants sit for the civil services exam every year hoping that the selection process is fair.

But documents available with NDTV show that there are some who take the test even without applying for it.

What's more the UPSC announced its results for the preliminary exams for the civil services but as in the past it did not give out important details such as the ranking and marks of all those who appeared in the exam.

This despite two orders from the Central Information Commission to make it more transparent.

In 2007, 3,34,114 candidates were allotted roll numbers by the UPSC.

Even though it received only 3,33,680 applications, thus 434 more candidates became eligible for the exam even without applying for it.

This seems to have become a practice. In 2006, 539 such ghost candidates were allotted roll numbers.

In 2005 the UPSC allotted 172 more roll numbers than the total number of applications it received.

In 2004 and 2003 the number of such candidates was 439 and 72 respectively.

Reasons for discrepancy

The commission gives conflicting reasons for this discrepancy. In May this year it told Ravi Jindal an applicant under the RTI.

''Roll numbers are allotted randomly. Due to transfer of mix-up applications of other examinations, the number of total candidates applied may not match with that of the last roll number''

When NDTV contacted the UPSC it said that the difference in the numbers were due to random allotment of roll numbers a procedure in operation only since 2006.

But as these records show ghost candidates have been appearing for the exam since 2003.

''It could also imply that there is some kind of manipulation. Since the system being computerised there is no question of any error and error creeping in means some sort of manipulation is being done,'' said Ravi Jindal, Civil Services aspirant.

Another case

It's not just ghost candidates NDTV has come across another case in which the UPSC had its way.

In August 2005 the UPSC advertised for a post of senior scientific expert at the Forensics Science Laboratory in Delhi.

Sanjeev Kumar who worked at a government owned Forensic training institute did not have the five-year work experience or the requisite degrees for the post.

He applied for the post but the UPSC went ahead and short-listed him.

The Delhi government then wrote a letter to the UPSC saying Kumar did not qualify for the post.

But despite that the Commission recommended that Kumar be appointed.

As its recommendations are binding Kumar was hired.

NDTV tried to contact Sanjeev Kumar and the UPSC on this appointment but both refused to comment.

The UPSC recruits the top administrators of the country but it has been blocking efforts by students and aspirants seeking greater transparency in its selection process.

UPSC's plea that this would compromise the selection process is being challenged in the Delhi High court but this case of a blatant bias and bending of rules once again underscores the need for greater accountability.

NDTV.com: UPSC's countless ghost candidates