As reported by CHARU SUDAN KASTURI at www.telegraphindia.com on 11 March 2009
New Delhi, March 10: Organisers of the 2006 IIT entrance exam have revealed that they shredded answer scripts of students even while some candidates were pursuing allegations of manipulations in their scores.
IIT Kharagpur, which organised the exam that year, has said it destroyed answer scripts that could have helped establish whether scores in that subject were manually altered after the test.
The revelation, made in a Right to Information reply available with The Telegraph, also discloses that the IITs chose to break with their own tradition in 2006 to destroy answer scripts earlier than they normally do.
That year, the IITs used subject cutoffs starkly different from the ones they claimed to have used. The irregularities, reported first in this newspaper, led to a denial of opportunities to 994 students who had cleared the cutoffs the IITs claimed to have used.
The difference fuelled allegations that marked answer scripts may have been manually doctored to help some candidates, especially in chemistry, where the discrepancy between the cutoffs used and cutoffs claimed was the widest.
JEE answer scripts are Optical Mark Reading (OMR) sheets — the answers are read by a special device and no manual involvement is allowed in evaluation.
The IITs have denied any such manipulation. But the revelation that the institutes destroyed the most direct evidence of any possible manipulation even as candidates were alleging wrongdoing raises the question whether the 2006 irregularities were indeed completely unintentional.
The minutes of a 1967 meeting of the IIT Kharagpur Senate — the highest executive body of an IIT — say that all exam-related documents, including answer scripts, are to be preserved “for a year”.
But on August 24, 2006, within days of releasing detailed mark sheets to students, the Joint Admission Board (JAB) of the IITs decided to destroy the answer scripts in 2006 itself, according to the RTI reply. The JAB is the top IIT body responsible for conducting admissions.
The admission process was challenged first in August 2006, more than three months before the answer scripts were destroyed on December 12, 14 and 16, according to the RTI reply.
The father of one student had approached the Prime Minister, President and the central vigilance commission seeking an inquiry into the case by September 2006. The vigilance commission is still probing the case.
In October 2006, the parent had appealed under the Right to Information Act, seeking details of the cutoffs used by the IITs in the 2006 entrance exam. One of his charges related to fears of manual manipulations of chemistry marks.
Records show that the IITs retained answer scripts pertaining to an unrelated case that too had been filed before the dates when the remaining scripts were destroyed.
The scripts related to this other case were produced before Gauhati High Court in February 2007.
The central information commission, which oversees the implementation of the RTI Act, has the powers of a civil court.