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Himachal multi-crore scholarship scam: CBI charge-sheets 20 institutes, 105 individuals

Twenty-two educational institutions were on the CBI radar in the scam for not only committing irregularities but also for allegedly asking the students to pay money for the release of scholarships.

Screenshot 2024 03 30 073123NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday stated that following the conclusion of its investigations, it has filed charge sheets in the Himachal Pradesh multi-crore scholarship scam, naming 20 institutions and 105 individuals as accused.

According to the charge sheet, a copy of which is with this newspaper, those who have been made accused include the owners of educational institutes, the staff of the Directorate of Higher Education, Shimla, bank officials, and other private persons involved in the misuse of funds under the scholarship and reimbursement scheme of fees launched by the Centre and implemented through the state government to help students of SC, ST, and OBC categories.

In the charge sheet, the CBI alleged that the scam started in 2012-13 when the scholarships for Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and Other Backward Class (OBC) students of the state for pre-matric and post-matric students under 36 schemes were not paid to the eligible students.

Noting that 80 percent of the scholarship money was paid to private institutions, the CBI alleged that the scam was unearthed following reports that the students of government schools in the tribal Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul and Spiti district had not been paid a scholarship for the past five years.

“A case was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the year 2019 at the request of the Himachal Pradesh government against private educational institutions in the state for fake and fraudulent claims of scholarships of about Rs 181 crore during the years 2013 to 2017,” a senior agency official said.

Searches were earlier conducted at about 30 places on the premises of some people, which led to the recovery of incriminating documents, and subsequently, 19 accused, including the chairman, vice chairman, directors, and employees of the educational institutes; bank officials; and officials of the education department were arrested.

Twenty-two educational institutions were on the CBI radar in the scholarship scam for not only committing irregularities but also for allegedly asking the students to pay money for the release of scholarships.

The probe into the case had revealed that fake letterheads were used by several educational institutions to show false affiliation to mislead the education department, which failed to ensure physical verification of the infrastructure and the student population, the CBI said, adding that other discrepancies included non-submission of Aadhaar numbers of the students by the institutions, using the same Aadhaar accounts to withdraw the scholarships of multiple students who did not exist, and opening fake accounts in three nationalized banks.

The then superintendent grade-II in the higher education department, Arvind Rajta, who was dealing with the disbursement of scholarships, had given over Rs 28 crore of scholarship money to nine fake institutions in which his wife had a 33 percent stake, the CBI alleged, adding that Rajta had earlier been arrested in the case.

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