The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) on Sunday targeted at least three ‘Public Service Commission (PSC) coaching centres’ on the suspicion their managements had aided students on their rolls to cheat in the examinations for government jobs.
Investigators said they suspected that the managements had used a WhatsApp group created for their trainees to indicate the questions and topics likely to figure in PSC tests, including the Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) examinations held on Saturday. More than 3.82 lakh students had appeared for the KAS exams.
The alleged scam came to light when a set of candidates had informed PSC chairman M.K. Sakeer that they suspected a bid to rig PSC tests by the private centres.
Mr. Sakeer informed the government, which ordered the VACB enquiry.
Investigators said the scandal was likely to sweep up several government Secretariat staff.
The complainants had alleged that the officials owned and operated the coaching centres in the name of other persons.
They alleged that the officials had access to those who prepared probable questions for PSC tests. A secret cell at the PSC finalised the question paper from a set of drafts sourced from experts.
The VACB inspected the office of ‘Lakshya and Vito’ PSC coaching centres in Thampanoor. Investigators said the centres had branches across the State and Lakshya was headquartered in Venjaramoodu. It has got two other PSC coaching institutions on its radar.
The VACB is verifying whether the set of suspect officers had any stakes in these institutions. It is checking their mobile call records, bank accounts, investments and wealth.
A top official said that if the allegations were found to be accurate, then the agency would have uncovered a brazen examination fraud attempt remarkable in its extent and boldness.
The PSC’s credibility had taken a beating last year when two Students Federation of India (SFI) leaders duped their way into the police constable rank list by cheating in the examination.
The then Governor P. Sathasivam had summoned the chairman and sought a report after job seekers cried foul.
A police enquiry revealed that the accused had used a combination of smartwatches and mobile phones to seek the help of a test proficient person, a police officer, to write the examination.
Subsequently, the PSC had claimed that it had plugged the loopholes and its future tests would be fraud-proof.