Bengaluru: An ADGP-rank officer was on Monday arrested by the Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in connection with the police sub-inspector recruitment scam in the state, high-placed police sources said.
The officer – Amrit Paul – was heading the recruitment division when the scam took place. After the large-scale irregularities came to light, he was transferred as the ADGP for the Internal Security Division.
According to the sources, the Optical Marks Recognition (OMR) sheets of the fraudulent candidates were allegedly tampered in the recruitment division itself. They also claimed that Paul was in the know of the development.
The ADGP was arrested after he was quizzed by the police at least four times, they said.
”After his arrest, he was taken to the Bowring Hospital for medical examination,” a police official said.
He also said that he was produced in a court, which remanded him to 10 days’ police custody.
Later in the night, the government ordered his suspension with immediate effect.
During the period of suspension, the officer will be paid a subsistence allowance in accordance with the Rule-4 of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969.
”During the period of suspension, the officer shall not leave the headquarters under any circumstances without the written permission of the state government,” the order said.
Commenting on the arrest of a senior IPS officer, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the government has given a free hand to the CID, and hence, they have taken action based on the evidence.
”I had already said that however mighty they are, we will take action. Because of our government, a senior officer was arrested,” Bommai told reporters.
To a query whether this was not a disgrace for the government, he sought to know how this question arose when the government itself had ordered an inquiry.
”Such fair inquiry would not have been possible in other governments. In the previous government, when such irregularities came to light, no investigation was carried out and it was closed. It was us who impartially probed the case, got into the root and arrested everyone involved in it. We are committed to cleansing the system,” Bommai said.
The scam had first come to light in Kalaburagi district, when the OMR sheet of a candidate was posted on social media showing that despite answering only 21 out of 100 questions, he cleared the exam.
This triggered a public outrage against the manner, in which the exam was conducted. The police probed the matter and registered a case against the candidate and the person who had posted it.
The probe further led to the arrest of absconding BJP leader and owner of Gnana Jyothi English Medium School in Kalaburagi Divya Hagaragi, the principal of the school, Kashinath, and other staff.
A few police officers, including a deputy superintendent of police, inspector, sub-inspector, constables and the gunman of an MLA were also arrested.
It is alleged that a candidate from Malleswaram, purportedly the relative of a senior politician, was also arrested in this case.
About 70 people have been arrested so far in this connection, the sources said.
The suspected candidates in this scam had allegedly paid Rs 70 lakh each to get a job.
The PSI recruitment drive started in October 2021 to fill 545 posts and 54,041 people wrote the exam.
After the scam came to light, the government annulled the exam and ordered conducting it afresh. Enraged with this move, a few candidates staged a demonstration, demanding cancellation of the order which annulled the exam.
However, the government remained adamant and said it will conduct the exam afresh.
While the opposition accused the involvement of high-profile people in the government, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said a fair investigation will happen, sparing none, however high and mighty they were. The probe will become an example for others and a deterrent against any such malpractice in future in the state, he said.
However, the opposition Congress was not happy with the action and demanded the removal of Jnanendra, saying he was equally responsible for the PSI scam.
In a series of tweets, former chief minister Siddaramaiah said, ”More skeletons are falling out of the closet, and the arrest of ADGP Amrit Paul is a classic example for this. What will @BSBommai & @JnanendraAraga say about this now? They went all out to deny any scam, but now there is clear indication of one.”
”It is not enough if only officers are blamed for PSI scam. Even Home Minister @JnanendraAraga is equally responsible for this. @BSBommai should first sack Araga Jnanendra from the cabinet,” he added.
Reacting to the opposition’s charge demanding action against Jnanendra for initially denying there was any scam in the PSI recruitment, Bommai said it was the home minister who had ordered a CID inquiry.
He accused Congress of trying to change the course of the investigation so that it got diverted and distracted.
”There were scams after scams during the Congress regime such as the PUC question paper leak, PSI recruitment scam, and the civil services exam scam conducted by the Karnataka Public Service Commission,” Bommai said.
The chief minister claimed that in the KPSC scam which took place during the Congress government, some candidates wrote the answer sheets after the exam was over. The case was proved, and the court had ordered to investigate 61 people, but they did not take an action, he charged.
”After I became the home minister, I took action. During the Congress regime, all the scams were pushed under the carpet. The Congress does not have any moral rights to talk about it,” Bommai said.
Stating that the entire Karnataka is appreciating the bold decision taken by his government, he warned that a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption would be followed in the future also.