J&K Recruitment Board Awards Contract To Tainted Firm, Political Parties Demand Immediate Scrapping

The J&K administration gave a contract to Aptech Limited whose name has come up in several recruitment scandals in India.

Manoj Sinha in Jammu

After Jammu and Kashmir recruitment board awarded a contract to a tainted firm, furore erupted among the political parties of J&K which demanded immedidate scrapping of the contract. 

The J&K Service Selection Board (JKSSB) awarded a contract to tainted firm Aptech Limited, a Mumbai-based recruiting agency with a shadowy past across the country. The JKSSB-Aptech episode has propped up in J&K at a time when Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha-led Union Territory (UT) administration is championing its 'corruption free' system post-5 August 2019 when J&K’s special status was scrapped and earstwhile state was downgraded to a UT.

There is also discontent over the episode as it comes at a time when the Union government is hailing a ‘Naya Kashmir’ and the administration has launched a crackdown on its employees and refrained them from commenting against government’s policies on the social media. 

Aptech’s involvement in recruitment scandals

In 2016, Aptech Limited allegedly found itself involved in Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam recruitment scam. Mass irregularities and malpractices were found in the agency’s recruitment process as 1,188 appointments were cancelled out of 1,300 posts in 2020 following an investigation by Uttar Pradesh’s Special Task Force (STF).

In 2017, Aptech was hiring agency of Rajasthan Rajasthan Police constable recruitment. The examination for the posts was held in 2017 in which irregularities were found. Later, in 2018 FIR was filed and examination was cancelled.

In 2018, UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) hired Aptech for examination. After irregularities via system monitoring and various other modes were reported by STF, examination was scrapped and Aptech was blacklisted for period of three years from May 2019 to May2022. 

In 2018, The examination of Delhi University LLB course conducted by Aptech was also cancelled due to leak of examination papers. Delhi High Court fined Aptech Limited with Rs 10,00,000.

In 2020, Assam irrigation department examination was conducted by Aptech Limited. Here again irregularities were found.

Central Teacher Eligibility Test was also conducted by Aptech. The paper was leaked and irregularities came up in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Special Task Force also arrested one person in the case. The paper for the examination was later rescheduled.

SEBI recently slapped Rs 1 crore penalty on Aptech Limited for violating insider trading rules.

In Kanpur Aptech allegedly cheated 200 students of lakhs of rupees, closed office and ran away. 

Political Parties demand immediate scrapping of contract

Chief Spokesperson of Democratic Azad Party (DAP) Salman Nizami termed awarding of contract to Aptech Limited a “deep rooted conspiracy”.

“Awarding a contract to blacklisted Aptech by JKSSB seems a deep rooted conspiracy to spoil the future of J&K's youth. The contract should be withdrawn immediately and in future never to engage with such companies,” Nizami said.

Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone also seemed aghast over the administration's move.

“I have received a lot of emails and messages about Aptech which has been blacklisted in other states. Given the shoddy track record of past, SSRB better tread with caution. Students need to be heard. You can’t thrust a blacklisted company on our future,” said Lone.

National Conference chief spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said also lambasted administration over awarding contract to a blacklisted firm, saying it is a move to “destroy” career of local youth.

“JKSSB is the enfant terrible of the incumbent J&K administration. The board inspite of addressing the genuine concerns and fear of the educated, skilled local youth seems hellbent to destroy their future by continously persisting with a blacKlisted company,” Dar said.

National Conference spokesperson Ifra Jan also came heavily on administration and launched a scathing target on BJP.

She said, “An examination firm blacklisted repeatedly for fraud is continuously being hired AGAIN AND AGAIN by BJP government in JKSSB examinations. Lives, dreams  future of students of Jammu and Kashmir don’t matter at all. Their dreams, careers are totally indispensable! Bravo BJP!”

Besides political parties, several aspirants in Jammu and Kashmir have also demanded Sinha-led J&K administration to scrap the contract with the firm.