Saturday December 02, 2023

Member of panel probing MDCAT ‘paper leak’ resigns

September 28, 2023

Dr Asad Ilyas, the registrar of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi, has tendered his resignation as a key member of the six-member committee tasked with investigating the alleged leak of MDCAT test papers.

Dr Ilyas cited differences within the committee and raised concerns regarding the committee’s composition and the scope of the investigation in his resignation letter, which was submitted to the chief secretary’s office.

The committee, formed to probe allegations of the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) paper leak scandal and identify those responsible, has been shrouded in controversy since its inception. According to sources within the chief secretary’s office, Dr Asad Ilyas’s resignation letter highlighted several issues that prompted his decision to step down. In his letter, Dr Ilyas expressed reservations about the committee’s composition, stating that the committee members were junior officers.

He emphasized that the severity of the MDCAT paper leak issue warranted the involvement of more senior individuals in the committee’s formation. Additionally, Dr Ilyas raised concerns about the committee’s limited jurisdiction, noting that the investigation was primarily focused on the allegations rather than conducting a comprehensive inquiry so that in the future such incidents were effectively avoided.

He argued that the allotted seven-day timeframe was insufficient to thoroughly understand the issue, observe the relevant processes, and propose effective interventions to prevent such incidents in the future. The committee had the responsibility of submitting its report to the secretary of the health department within a week, which further compounded the pressure on its members.

The registrar of the IBA Karachi, the additional secretary of the Boards and Universities Department, the deputy secretary of the Services Wing, and the director of the FIA Cybercrime were among the committee’s members. The special secretary (Admin) of the health department served as its chair. While some committee members attended meetings, Dr Asad Ilyas was the sole member with extensive experience in testing, holding a BS-21 grade. The rest of the committee members were junior officers, holding BS-20 and BS-18 grade positions, without prior testing experience.

A committee member, who attended every meeting, revealed while talking to this scribe that the investigation had shed light on the alleged incompetence of Jinnah Sindh Medical University in conducting the MDCAT test.

The allegation of paper leakage appeared increasingly credible, as only five examination centres were set up to accommodate more than 40,000 students. Moreover, special services from a team at the Dow Medical University were enlisted, and recruitments were made for the examination process.