Srinagar: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has said that Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) would now conduct the J&K Service Selection Board (SSB) examinations, the process expected to commence in September this year.
The announcement comes amidst the ongoing protests against the exam-conducting agency Aptech that had been hired by the J&K government for filling up vacancies in government departments.
Earlier this year, the J&K SSB faced immense criticism when its attempts to fill nearly 1000 vacant positions were thwarted by allegations of impropriety.
The cancellation of the exams came after aspirants raised concerns over the integrity of the process, resulting in widespread outcry and legal challenges.
In December 2022, many other exams, including those for filling Sub Inspector and Junior Assistant posts were also cancelled by the High Court amid similar allegations.
In an interview to a digital news portal, the LG said that the situation escalated after the selected examination agency, Aptech, faced legal challenges following its commencement of the exams.
These legal battles prompted him to carry out a deeper investigation into the selection process and the capabilities of the chosen agency’s technology infrastructure.
During the interview, LG Sinha said, “We initiated discussions with the law enforcement and technical experts who raised concerns about the security of Aptech’s network during the early stages of the examination. It was possible that some individuals could gain unauthorised access to the network, potentially impacting the fairness of the exam process.”
Top management and technical experts from Aptech had been summoned to the LG’s office.
In collaboration with the Special DGCI, SSB Chairman, and cyber security specialists from the government, they discussed possible modifications to Aptech’s software that would address the security concerns.
However, the company has for now been barred from conducting further exams, pending the outcome of the ongoing legal proceedings.
For future examinations, the LG said that the Government of India had been appealed to integrate J&K’s SSB exams into the exams conducted by TCS for GoI posts.
“We also approached the Government of India and the appeal has been met with agreement from the Home Minister and the Secretary of Home Affairs, paving the way for TCS to take over the examination process,” he said.
LG Sinha said that the TCS charges around Rs 300 for the exams.
He assured that the upcoming examinations, which were expected to commence in September, would uphold the highest standards of fairness.
The LG said that any attempts to manipulate or exploit the system would be met with stringent legal actions in accordance with Indian laws.
Explaining how Aptech had been selected as the exam-conducting agency, he said that all the bidders, when Expression of Interest (EoI) had been invited, had some track record of being blacklisted.
LG Sinha said that it was discussed and agreed upon in the pre-bid meeting that those bidders would be considered eligible that had not been blacklisted in the past three years, as against the earlier condition of ‘never been blacklisted’.
He said that the matter of Aptech would be discussed further during the court hearing scheduled for Monday.