High-powered panel to probe conduct of Sikkim Services Exam
Sikkim Public Service Commission

Gangtok: On January 16, the Sikkim Public Service Commission conducted exams for 62 seats. But, instead of starting the process of hiring officers, the exams have set social media abuzz in the state with claims of rampant cheating and indifference shown by invigilators at various examination centres.

As per SPSC examination guidelines, candidates were not allowed to take mobile phones, smartwatches and other electronic devices inside the exam hall, but these claims have been challenged and exposed by several social media users since then. An Instagram story of one of the sitting candidates mentioned their roll numbers and the OMR sheet in which the candidates fill out answers.

A letter addressed to the SPSC chairperson written by a candidate said the examination was unfair. “The security check outside the examination hall was not done properly. The lack of security in terms of proper checking and frisking of examinees, coupled with the sheer carelessness regarding mobile phones and other electronic gadgets, have led to reports of rampant cheating by examinees at multiple centres,” the letter said.

The letter alleged the examination was not fair and the question book was circulated with a broken seal, “Examinees at the Tadong Senior Secondary School, Room 49-50 received question booklets with seals already broken in. There have also been reports from the said centre about invigilators leaving the examination halls unattended leading to malpractices by examinees in these rooms.”

Another exam centre at the Paljor Namgyal Senior Secondary School in Gangtok has also come under the radar for “Room 68 has seen the use of mobile phones by multiple students inside the examination hall throughout the entire duration of Paper I.”

If the exams were not enough, the official answer key released by the SPSC on January 17 did not help the matter. “The provision of challenging the answer key is supposed to be for a select few (or none) of the questions, which are extremely doubtful in nature. Examinees are now being asked to pay the fee for challenging questions which were incorrect, to begin with. Examinees shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of inaccuracies in the question paper itself,” claims the letter written by one of the aspirants.

A letter allegedly written by a ‘thoroughly disappointed and dejected aspirant’, further mentions, “An examination as prestigious as this one, where candidates are vying for the coveted positions of Deputy Superintendent of Police, Accounts Officer and Under Secretary was never expected to be conducted so callously. Many serious aspirants have placed their future in line by devoting 2-3 years of their lives to prepare for the exam.”

Taking the speculations and allegations into account, Sikkim Public Service Commission through a press release stated, “The commission has taken the matter seriously and is verifying the facts proactively. As per the findings, appropriate action will be taken accordingly. Revised answer keys are being uploaded on January 21 by the commission, taking into account all the concerns of the candidates. The commission assures fair evaluation to all the aspiring candidates.”

Opposition party Sikkim Democratic Front’s student wing held a press conference on Friday and made similar allegations. “SPSC must apologise and if the mistakes are intentional, a lawful process should follow. We have been getting calls from candidates who claim the examination to be unfair and biased. There have been various incidents of unfair means in centres, such as electronic gadgets being allowed, extensive use of washrooms during examinations, allowing candidates arriving late to enter the hall are some violations which directly violate examination guidelines issued by SPSC.”

A similar incident from 2015 has also surfaced on social media, which claimed that the SPSC examination had been unfair. The post dated August 9, 2015, reads, “please do not disclose my name, but I would like to share a complaint against SPSC. I am one of the candidates who could not clear the US and DSP Viva. However, I filed an RTI and came to know that in one of the main papers the SPSC scratched out the marks given by the examiner and have given marks themselves, written in pencil. I inquired about it. They said they will double-check it: when they double-checked, they forgot to add marks for two of my answers…I asked for a free evaluation of my marks considering the fact that people cleared by a very less margin of marks. But today, I received a letter from the SPSC, stating that there can be no re-evaluation of the SPSC which shows the utter hypocrisy of this commission. If they follow the UPSC pattern to conduct this exam then they themselves should be first eligible and efficient to conduct the exam in this pattern. SPSC is playing with the lives of the youth and has destroyed the career of many.” 

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