NCERT officials involved in book piracy?” said “The whistle blower, Shri Harish Kumar Meena allegation as published in the news paper that he provided the tip off to director, NCERT on 20.12.2018 regarding availability of NCERT pirated books is not correct.
It is evident that he never provided the information to Director, NCERT. Further, it is stated that the first information provided to VSO is on 20.12.2018 night. The 21.12.2018 is the earliest date which could have been the date of raid but the raid was conducted when director, NCERT has received the information on 24.12.2018 from the then secretary, MHRD. The news report is completely wrong that there is delay of 5 days in conducting the raid actually there is no delay in conducting the raid as per the procedural requirement.”
TOI, based on documents submitted during the inquiry, found that messages were sent to the director and the VSO separately at 8.25 pm on December 20, 2018 and to MHRD secretary at 8.37 pm the same day.
Also, based on the letter from the director of NCERT to secretary MHRD and the inquiry report, it was found that the “surprise check” was conducted after the information was received on December 24 from the MHRD secretary Rina Ray. Hrushikesh Senapaty, director, NCERT in his letter to the MHRD secretary writes, “With reference to the Whatsapp Message dated 24th December, 2018, an inquiry has been conducted by a three-member Committee constituted for this purpose.”
The inquiry report of December 27, 2018 also stated that, “Secretary, MHRD forwarded the message to Director, NCERT for necessary action.” And “The Director, NCERT immediately instructed to undersigned to visit the premises …. Immediately, a surprise check has been conducted by NCERT team on 25.12.2018…”
In its rebuttal NCERT said: “It is once again reiterated that Shri Harish Kumar Meena, Assistant Professor, vide WhatsApp message dated 20.12.2018 in the late night informed to Vigilance Officer and the then secretary, MHRD regarding the availability of unauthorised books M/s Supreme Offset Press, Gr. Noida (UP). The official did not wait for authority response in the matter and himself made a visit to above printers in the morning hours on 21.12.2018 along with other unknown persons. The owner did not allow the official to inspect the press. When not allowed by firm owner, the official contacted VSO telephonically around 1015 am in the morning of 21.12.2018 (Friday). The VSO informed the official that by making such visit, he has alerted the printing press owner. The Proprietor of firm lodged a complaint against Shri Meena and informed about his unauthorised visit. Needless to inform that M/s Supreme Offset Press is an authorised printer of NCERT.
TOI however based on the recording of the conversation and its transcript submitted during the proceedings of the inquiry found that the VSO didn’t tell the official that his visit would have alerted the printing press owner. Rather the VSO said he will act on the matter “next week,” to which Meena replied that by then all the books would be gone (see transcript of the conversation).
The owner of the press emailed the complaint of the unauthorised visit on December 26, 2018, a day after the surprise check.
NCERT in its rebuttal also said that “It is pertinent to mention here that for conducting inspections, there is a need for formation of expert team members from various divisions and assistance of local police with maintaining secrecy of inspection.
Also, during the telephonic conversation between the VSO and Meena on December 21, 2018 ((see transcript of the conversation), the VSO said that the local police including the SP and DSP and a team of five to six officials from NCERT would be needed to be involved.
TOI, based on the inquiry report (see pic) found that the surprise check was conducted by “NCERT team on 25.12.2018 during 12.10PM to 1400PM consisting of following members: Ashutosh Mishra, VSO, R Selvaraj, Senior Store Officer, Vinod Devikar, Production Officer. The inquiry report to the MHRD has no mention of any assistance sought from police.
NCERT in its rebuttal also claimed that its vigilance team “conducted 60 inspections/ raids during the year 2019 & 2020 to check and control piracy of NCERT Text Books at Meerut, Gajraula, Chandigarh, Gazipur, Ludiana, Amritsar, Udhampur, Bangalore, Sonipat and various locations in Delhi.”
However, based on the TOI and other media reports the raids in Meerut, Gajraula and Amroha were conducted by the special task force (STF) while in Chandigarh it’s the by the UT Vigilance Department which took help of NCERT to confirm the books are pirated. It was also reported that most of the counterfeit books were published with “original” watermark, suggesting complicity of insiders.