Kandivli police probing previous Friday's BookKeeping & Accountancy question paper leak--the sixth this HSC exam season--suspect that at least 700 students accessed it on seven WhatsApp groups. The paper was circulated at least 24 minutes before the 11am exam at two Kandivli centres--Dr T R Naravane School and Bal Bharati Junior College. Cops have seized five mobiles from seven candidates and a junior college science student from whose phone the paper was posted between 10am and 10.36am to seven WhatsApp groups called College Friend, Masti Boy , Nirmal Best Friend and Sitaram Paslik, among others. On Friday , police registered cases against six students. After questioning them, they booked two more students on Saturday .

Kandivli police's revelations show that the leak was not confined to a “handful“ of examinees. While the state board has been on the defensive about the paper being shared among “a few,“ faculty members said the board has failed in conducting this year's HSC exam.

“The board conveniently altered what constitutes a leak.State board heads said that had the paper been out a day or an hour before the exam, it would be termed a leak. It is time that security measures and definitions of fundamental issues are re-checked,“ said a principal.

Investigators found that of the eight, two are from Bal Bharati Junior College and had got the same centre to wri te their papers. “A former HSC science student, who was a member of one of the seven groups, was called for questioning on Saturday evening along with one student who appeared for the exam. Seizure of their phones and statements led to two more students from whom they allegedly received the paper. The former student said he simply forwarded the paper to `help' students. Arrests will be made after the exa ms,“ said Mukund Pawar, Kandivli police senior inspector.

Police have sent the seized phones to Kalina's forensic science laboratory to retrace the source of the leak.

“The paper was shared on seven WhatsApp groups. Each group has at least 100 students,“ said investigators.

In the first case, Manisha Patil (48), principal of Dr T R Naravane School, complained that the papers were spotted on the phones of two students. A flying squad learned of the leak during a surprise check.“Patil said the squad checked a student's mobile phone who walked late into the exam hall.The team found that he had even forwarded the paper to another student who was present in the hall since 10.35am,“ said the investigators.

In the second case registered against four students, including the former student of Balbharti College, investigators said, “Principal Rajesh Patel (50) said they got suspicious when two of the three students walked in late. Their phones were checked and the paper found. They had received it from the junior college student.“

A day later, two more students were booked.

Meanwhile, Kandivli cops are also collecting details from their counterparts at Khar who are probing the Maths paper leak, for any link with this case.