Amidst public misgivings about the fate of the probe into APSC’s cash-for-job scam, the case is now moving again with the arrest of three ACS officers recruited in 2015. They are learnt to have been iled by forensic reports of writing one set of answer scripts in the examition hall and another set outside at their leisure. During police raids at former APSC chairman Rakesh Paul’s residence — two sets of answer scripts of the same paper, with the same handwriting — were reportedly found belonging to some candidates. The answer script with more marks figured in the fil tabulation sheet. Wednesday’s arrests are just the beginning, with DGP Mukesh Sahay saying that more newly appointed civil servants are under the scanner for using fraudulent means to secure appointment. According to him, the probe has entered the second phase to find out candidates who paid money to secure government jobs. The second phase will obviously hinge on the forensic reports, which are believed to be quite incrimiting. Answer scripts of the same paper were printed at different times, with minute differences in printing and ink showing up in cyber forensic tests. Scripts containing the same handwriting at different times, the same handwriting appearing in several scripts, and many other irregularities besides are said to have been found by forensic labs at Kahilipara, Hyderabad and Gandhigar. In the first phase of investigation into the scam, Dibrugarh police filed its first chargesheet against 10 persons on January 24 last in the Special Judge’s Court, including Rakesh Kumar Paul and two APSC members Samedur Rahman and Basanta Kumar Doley. Two of the accused are absconding, one being Rakesh Paul’s brother in whose press APSC question papers and answer scripts were printed. Prelimiry findings have revealed all sorts of comings and goings at odd hours in the APSC strong-room — raising the suspicion that answer scripts were secretly written elsewhere, thereafter stored in the strong-room and marks entered in tabulation sheets.
This is how the Assam Public Service Commission under the watch of Rakesh Paul conducted exams to select government servants. It casts the then Tarun Gogoi-led Congress regime in very poor light, for clearly it did nothing to stop this brazen sale of government jobs to the highest bidders. According to the police, Paul and his accomplices allegedly collected money from candidates ranging from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 40 lakh for selecting them for gazetted posts in government departments, including the Assam Civil Service and Assam Police Service. Considering how near and dear ones of the high and mighty figured in large numbers in the fil selection lists, it is clear how thoroughly compromised the entire system came to be. The Sarbanda Sonowal government deserves kudos for giving the go-ahead to Assam Police to b the three accused ACS officers. But the massive fraud perpetrated by the corrupt APSC circle was spread across several years, so whether the investigations can net the other wrongdoers is a question uppermost in the public mind. Fraudsters who bought government jobs will before long be in a position to determine the State’s future; they may already be pulling all sorts of strings to derail the investigation and destroy other key evidences. The case against Rakesh Paul and other accused will stand in court only upon incontrovertible evidence; surreptitious attempts to protect influential wrongdoers will weaken the probe irredeemably. The police will need to submit status report of investigation regularly before the court, it may have to file supplementary chargesheets which will denote how well the probe is moving. As for the State government, it speaks volumes that, as of now, it is not even in a position to prosecute Paul, as the President’s sanction is yet to come. Any talk of all-out fight against corruption will turn out to be hollow if the investigation process peters out into a dead end, as it so often happens when the high and mighty of the land are involved.