Cancellation and re-conduct of several recruitment examinations following selective leak of question papers has put a financial burden on lakhs of government job aspirants in Punjab.
There are candidates who have shelled out more than Rs 30,000, applying for these tests since November last year. While they are likely to get no refund of the amount paid to apply for the examinations that stand cancelled now, they will also have to pay again to apply for the retest in many cases.
The worst-affected are the candidates who cleared the examinations, but continue to remain jobless. Many candidates have even overshot the age limit set for applying to these jobs.
Since the Punjab Vigilance Bureau’s inquiry revealing selective leak of question papers of recruitment tests in March this year, several exams have come under the scanner.
The latest recruitment exercise to be cancelled is that for posts of sub-divisional engineer (SDE) in the Punjab irrigation department and junior engineer in the Punjab Water Resource Management and Development Corporation (PWRMDC). Both these examinations were found to be compromised, after a team of the VB arrested four persons from a house in New Delhi, providing the question paper to 17 candidates earlier this month. Both these examinations were conducted by Thapar University, Patiala. The irrigation department has now asked the university to re-conduct these examinations.
“The university has already charged the candidates `800 each for the examinations. According to the information gathered by the department from the VB, the university is not at fault for the question paper leak. So we have asked the university to conduct the examination again at the earliest, without making the candidates pay the fee again,” said irrigation secretary Kahan Singh Pannu.
The candidates who took this examination, conducted by Thapar University, had also applied for it when it was to be conducted by Panjab University, Chandigarh, on behalf of the department. The candidates paid Rs 1,650 to appear for the examination, which was never held. The department has asked Panjab University to refund the fee to the candidates.
Other than these recruitment tests, candidates who appeared in the examinations conducted by PU on behalf of the department of local bodies in November last year have paid Rs 8,000 to appear for four separate posts (Rs 2,000 each), even though the syllabus was the same and single merit was to be prepared. A part of the examination was later cancelled and the candidates are not likely to get the refund.
“We have already conducted the examination, leading to the expenditure. We cannot return the fee,” said University Institute of Management Studies chief coordinator PK Sharma, who conducts these examinations.
The Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), Patiala, which is now recruiting SDEs for various government departments in the state is charging the candidates Rs 3,000 for each department. “The fee charged by the PPSC is the highest charged by any examination agency. For the same syllabus and same test, it is criminal to charge separate application fee,” said a candidate, who spent Rs 9,000 applying for the test for jobs in three departments.
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, meanwhile, has given some respite to those aspiring for the posts of patwari. Around 1.25 lakh candidates appeared in preliminary examination conducted by PU in January this year, which was later cancelled. The mains examination was never held. Candidates had paid Rs 800 each for the test. The Amritsar university, which is conducting the test now, told all those who appeared in the PU examination that they need not pay the fee again.