When BOPEE failed students

Recent CET paper leakage has put a question mark on the functioning of BOPEE



The paper leakage in this year’s Common Entrance Test (CET) by J&K Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE) has put a big question mark on its credibility. The recent paper leakage episode has also raised questions about the functioning of this examination body conducting entrance exams for various professional undergraduate and post graduate courses. The Board authorities have shown slackness in discharging their duties in a fair and professional manner while conducting the CET 2013.
J&K BOPEE Act 2002 accords it functional autonomy so that it remains free from external interference and extraneous considerations in respect of making selection of candidates for admission purpose. But despite having such autonomy, the BOPEE has failed to come to the expectations of people and the student community. BOPEE was recently in news for all the wrong reasons. In a recent incident, on opening the Biology question paper packets in centre numbers 07, 08 and 09 at Government Girls Higher Secondary School Kothi Bagh, it was found that the packets did not contain the required number of question papers as per the candidates allotted to these centres. In other examination centres the Biology Question Paper was apparently leaked and was surprisingly found in the question paper packets of the Chemistry paper. This led to protests by students, and subsequently forced the BOPEE to not only postpone the Biology paper but also cancel the already held Chemistry paper.
The aspirants of CET 2013 examination suffered the most because of the paper-mix up and paper leakage and they could not perform well in the examination. Often aspirants spend huge amounts of money to coach themselves for these exams. Some even go outside the state to ensure better coaching facilities so that they can clear the exams in the first attempt. But the management of the BOPEE has shattered the dreams of students who burned mid night oil preparing hard for the CET examination.
“I performed well in the inaugural Chemistry paper but unfortunately it was cancelled. In the rescheduled exam, though I attempted most of the questions, I wasn’t quite satisfied,” says Sehrish Shabir who appeared in the CET Test 2013 at Government Degree College Bemina, Srinagar.
The State Human Rights Commission in its notice to the BOPEE has termed paper mix-up a “grave human rights violation” and asked the BOPEE to furnish details to ensure that students do not lose their precious academic year. Rescheduling and conducting exam in third week of July also ensures that the students may not be able to complete their admission formalities before July.  As per the authoritative mandate of Apex Court, the universities across India have been directed to complete the admission process of the academic year 2013-14 before July.
A section officer who has previously worked at the BOPEE says there’s a lot of bribe on offer in BOPEE. Parents are obsessed to see their wards admitted in professional courses and go to extra lengths to make that a reality. “During my tenure as Section Officer (SO) in the BOPEE during 1990s, a Principal of a reputed Government Degree College shelved out seven lakh rupees on my table urging me to distribute it among the staff,” the former section office says, wishing not to be named. “She even promised me some extra bucks. I was visibly annoyed and told her: Madam, you have come to the wrong table, I am satisfied with what I have been bestowed by Almighty Allah.”
The recent CET Paper leakage incident has raised many eyebrows about the functioning of BOPEE. The leakage also caught the attention of the Honourable High Court. Taking suo moto cognizance against the BOPEE affairs and functioning through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), notices were issued to Chairman and Controller of Examination, BOPEE, through Chief Secretary, while the High Court has requested Senior Advocate Bashir Ahmad Bashir to assist the Court in this matter as Amicus- Curiae.
The preliminary report about the leakage was filed by BOPEE on 18 July 2013 before the Honourable High Court through Advocate General but the Court was not satisfied with the report and termed it as ‘fictitious’. Showing its dissatisfaction with the report filed by the BOPEE, a division bench comprising Justices Virender Singh and Muzaffar Hussain Attar observed, “The court is not satisfied with this report and has desired to have a thorough probe of the whole matter and the overall functioning of the BOPEE.”
Senior Counsel Bashir Ahmad Bashir while assisting the High Court has submitted that even last year’s selection by BOPEE had many complaints which were brought to the notice of the Vigilance and Crime Branch but unfortunately nothing has come out so far. He further remarked that the only course available is to constitute a Special Investigation Team which shall be monitored by the Honourable Court and asked to submit periodical investigation reports till the enquiry/investigation is complete. The Court has postponed the matter for 13 August 2013 and has passed certain detailed directions for respondents to comply with by that time.
The government wakes up to the mismanagement or embezzlement in various government departments and boards only when the matter is taken to the courts. “The HoDs and Chairmen of different Boards run the affairs of these organizations as per their own interest and in the process acquire huge assets through illegal means,” says an aggrieved parent of a CET aspirant. “They simply turn these organizations as money minting shops.”
 “The incident of misplacement and leakage of Common Entrance Test 2013 (CET) question papers on the part of concerned authorities clearly reflects their highest degree of irresponsibility, non-seriousness and casual approach towards work culture,” says Dr. Bashir Ahmad Dabla, Head of the Department of Sociology, Kashmir University. “This in turn draws our attention to the problems of prevailing mis-governance in Kashmir, in which administrators don’t feel answerable to people and political executive.”
The real sufferers in the end are the students and candidates who had prepared hard for the test but had to suffer because of the paper leakage.  The aspirants feel dejected, disoriented, frustrated and demoralized.  They also feel that merit will be the main casualty and authorities will not do justice with them.  They get disillusioned with the system that has ruined their academic career.
Immediate steps should be taken to streamline the functioning of BOPEE and the erring officials involved in paper leakage should be given exemplary punishment. This will act as a deterrent for other corrupt officials. It also makes little sense that most of the reports are prepared by the same organizations which are involved in malpractices. The investigation should be carried out by some neutral investigation agency so that the actual culprits are punished for playing with the career of thousands of students.
(Arshad Bhat is an Izhar Wani internee in GK)

Lastupdate on : Sun, 21 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 21 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 22 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST

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