Widespread irregularities including tampered exam results under Madhya Pradesh's top state-run medical university that controls around 300 colleges have emerged in a report commissioned by the government in what could be the biggest scandal of its kind since the 2013 Vyapam scam.
The Madhya Pradesh Ayurvigyan Vishwavidyalaya also known as the Medical Science University is the governing body for all colleges that teach medicine, dental studies, nursing, paramedicine, Ayurveda, Homeopathic, Unani, and Yoga in the state.
With approximately 300 colleges under it, the university takes in around 80,000 students in any given year.
But after a complaint filed by Right to Information (RTI) activist Akhilesh Tripathi last year that some students, who did not appear for tests in the past few years, were declared to have passed, medical education Minister Vishwas Sarang ordered an inquiry in May this year.
A team of three university officials and information technology experts looked into the allegations and submitted its report last month.
A copy of the report, accessed exclusively by NDTV, says the private company responsible for making the mark sheets held on to them instead of transferring them to the confidential branch of the university, thereby raising the possibility of tampering.
According to the investigation, there have been serious irregularities from preparing question papers, to checking and re-evaluation of the answer sheets and issuing mark sheets.
The report also found that though the "company's server is in the confidential room of the university but the database was not given even after officials demanded the same".
The data of the mark sheets were cut-pasted in PDFs and Excel files via email, which keeps the door wide open to data alteration and errors, it said.
Various safeguards to prevent the modification of sensitive data such as exam scores were also violated, the report said.
The inquiry committee found an examination controller of the university, a clerk and an unidentified contractual employee changed the marks of students before they were finally published, raising serious questions about the reliability of the university's exams.
Akhilesh Tripathi, whose RTI application led to the probe, told NDTV, "Even after the matter came to light, there was no FIR against the company that made the result. Only its contract was cancelled. The company did not even give the data to the university, saying that their office in Bangalore is closed because of lockdown. Then the company went to the High Court against the termination."
Dr Prabhat Budhaulia, Registrar of the University, was brief in his response to NDTV's questions about the probe, saying, "The company has gone to the court. We have appointed a lawyer. The honourable court will decide."
Mindlogics Infratech, a private firm that was outsourced the work of delivering question papers to private and government medical colleges under the university and preparing the result, has denied all wrongdoing.
"The contract for managing their examination work was given to us during July 2018 and we have been working diligently on this project and have got multiple appreciation certificates as well, the latest one being on 22nd Feb 2021," the company said in an emailed statement.
"However, in the last few months, we were subjected to various kinds of harassment by one of the officials of the university for vested reasons. There was a lot of pressure on our project team by the said official to compromise the sanctity of the exams which we refused to oblige. The said official misused his position and without following any due process of the norms of the university and without any official sanctity had terminated our contract and blacklisted as well on the 5th of July 21. The same was challenged by us before the Hon'ble High Court of Madhya Pradesh which was pleased to stay the blacklisting of our company on the 29th of July 21 and posted the matter for further hearing on the 16th of Aug 21," it said.
"We are hopeful that the Hon'ble HC (High Court) will decide the matter based on our submission and render justice. Since the matter is subjudice we don't want to comment anything about the individual official whose credentials are questionable as well," the company added.
Asked about the probe, Medical Education Minister Vishwas Sarang said, "I have ordered an inquiry. We have to ensure there are no discrepancies in the examination process. Those who are guilty will not be spared.