A Delhi court has directed the concerned authority to register an FIR under the provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, in a case of caste-based question being allegedly asked in the primary teachers' recruitment exam by the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB).
Additional Sessions Judge Ravinder Bedi said prima facie the alleged words in questions papers of 2018 and 2019 disclosed commission of various cognizable offences committed by the DSSSB.
The court directed the officer empowered under the Act to conduct an investigation in the case and file a monthly report before the court.
"I observe that the question with caste abusive words was set up in paper by paper setter not only once i.e. on October 13, 2018, but again the very next vear i.e. in paper dated August 18, 2019.
"Prima facie the alleged words in questions papers of 2018 & 2019 as pointed out by complainant disclose commission of various cognizable offences committed by the respondent/DSSSB and an investigation is required into these," the judge said in his order passed on February 17.
The court's directions came while allowing an application filed by advocate Satya Prakash Gautam, seeking action against the DSSSB chairman and the erring officials of the examination committee under the Act.
The application claimed that a caste-based question was asked in the exam conducted on October 13, 2018, by the DSSSB.
The judge said that his attention has been drawn to the detailed report by the investigating officer filed in September 2019 and the attempts of the Board in concealing information as to the question paper setters despite repeated orders of the court.
"The response of DSSSB as filed during hearing was that DSSSB did not have an in-house facility for paper setting or vetting; the same being a highly secretive process, where contents of paper are not shared with anyone," the court said in its order.
It had earlier pulled up the police for not making any efforts to identify the two paper setters, who had allegedly put a caste-based question in the exam, and said it was dismayed by their "callous approach" in the matter.
It had directed the DSSSB Chairman to appear before it to explain the steps that have been taken and furnish details of the paper setters to the court.
"This court is dismayed at the fact that the complaint is pending since November, 2018 and the ACP (Assistant Commissioner of Police)/authorities have been callous in their approach and have not even made efforts to identify the name/designation of the paper setter of DSSSB, who set out the question in DSSSB Board, Primary Teacher examination held on October 13, 2018, it had said.
Following this, DSSSB Chairman Santosh Vaidya had appeared before the court through video conferencing and submitted the details of the paper setters in two sealed envelopes.
The police had told the court in its status report that the person who had allegedly put a caste-based question in the exam has been removed from the board's paper setters panel.
They, however, had said the board did not disclose the name or identity of the paper setter who had included the caste-based question.
Mr Gautam said in his complaint that DSSSB officials by allegedly asking caste-based questions have offended the sentiments of the scheduled caste community.
The police had informed the court in January, 2019, that the DSSSB had conducted an internal enquiry in the matter and it was decided that the question paper setter was disengaged from the panel of paper setters working for DSSSB.
They said the board has sensitized all paper setters to ensure that the question paper does not have any question with casteist and religious undertones.
The board had issued a notice after media reports of the alleged casteist question came out in 2018, saying the question having casteist undertones appeared due to an "inadvertent error".
It had clarified that the procedure of paper setting was highly confidential and secretive in nature and the contents of the paper are not shared with the board officials and are revealed for the very first time before the candidates only.
"The appearance of any such question which may have unintentionally hurt the sentiments of any section of the society is deeply regretted. During the evaluation process, this question shall not be evaluated for the purpose of preparation of results. The board is taking necessary corrective measures to sensitize its paper setters and suitable action is being taken to ensure that such an incident is not repeated in future," it had said.
However, Mr Gautam filed another complaint on August 19, 2019, against DSSSB chairman and other erring police officials alleging the incident was repeated again.
He claimed in the second complaint that a caste-based question was again asked in the exam conducted by the DSSSB for the primary teachers' recruitment examination on August 18, 2019.
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