The CBI has registered a case of alleged irregularities, including impersonation, in the recruitment of watchmen for the Food Corporation of India's Delhi region on the basis of a complaint filed by the public sector undertaking.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) had outsourced the recruitment of watchmen for the Delhi region to a private agency, Ace Integrated Solutions Limited, on April 10, 2017. As many as 1.08 lakh candidates applied for the 53 positions on offer, and 98,771 candidates - including several post-graduates - appeared for the written test on February 18, 2018. Around 171 candidates qualified, and 96 candidates were shortlisted after document verification and a physical endurance test. Of these, 53 were empanelled and 43 kept waiting.
It was while performing a background check that the FCI identified several discrepancies in the dossiers of the selected candidates and forwarded the case to the probe agency for further investigation. The public sector unit said in its complaint to the probe agency that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that some "unscrupulous elements" had succeeded in clearing the written examination - depriving deserving individuals of the opportunity.
After initiating a preliminary inquiry in August last year, the CBI uncovered several offences such as "criminal conspiracy, cheating by impersonation, cheating and forgery" by the private firm as well as individual candidates. It then registered a regular case for detailed investigation in January.
Sources in the CBI said that while the private firm has recruited employees for several government agencies, the preliminary probe revealed at least 14 cases of impersonation out of the 96 selected candidates. "The investigation revealed similar irregularities in the recruitment process of the FCIs in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan regions too. We are also in the process of collecting information regarding other recruitment projects carried out by the company. Necessary action may then be taken as per the law," one of them claimed.
The private agency, in its response, pointed out it has carried out "over 500 successful recruitment drives" for various public sector units in the last 20 years. "There has not been even a single case of failure until now. The said order was executed in the most professional, transparent and fair manner, and every effort was made to ensure that there was no malpractice during recruitment," it said.