CBI likely to file charge sheet against youth who circulated ‘doctored’ screenshot of UGC-NET paper

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NEW DELHI: The CBI is likely to file a charge sheet against a youth who allegedly circulated a “doctored” screenshot of the UGC-NET paper on Telegram which led to the cancellation of the exam after an alert from the Union Home Ministry about a possible “breach”, officials said.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) did not find any large-scale conspiracy in the episode and would limit the charge sheet to offences of attempt to cheat or cheating, they said.

The central agency’s probe into the alleged UGC-NET paper leak had found that the screenshot of the “leaked” question paper for the June 18 exam was “doctored” by a school student, the officials said.

The CBI has informally conveyed its findings to the government and is likely to file a charge sheet against the youth, they said.

More than 11 lakh candidates had registered for the exam which determines eligibility for junior research fellowship, appointment as assistant professors and admission to PhD in Indian universities and colleges.

The exam was cancelled by the Union Education Ministry on June 19 following the alert from the Union Home Ministry’s National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C).

“The UGC received certain inputs from the National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs on the examination. These inputs prima facie indicate that the integrity of the aforesaid examination may have been compromised,” the Ministry of Education had said after the cancellation of the examination.

The investigation was handed over to the CBI, which found that the purported screenshot of the paper was created by the school student using an app. He changed the date of the screenshot to June 17 to make some money by giving the impression that he had access to the question paper, they said.

The youth tried to give an impression that he could arrange subject-specific papers which were to be held later, they said.

The central agency consulted forensic experts who opined that the screenshot was doctored, they said.

The exam was cancelled based on inputs received by the University Grants Commission from the I4C that the paper was available on the darknet and was allegedly being sold for Rs 5 lakh-6 lakh on messaging platforms, sources said.

The UGC-NET will now be held afresh from August 21 to September 4.