Mumbai – The Union Government allocates funds to be disbursed as scholarships to students from backward communities after completion of their secondary education. However, 64 educational institutions in Maharashtra were found to have introduced bogus names in their registers and disbursed scholarships to the tune of Rs 1,826 crore to non-existent students. This scam was exposed in 2017. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted to probe the scam, yet no action has been taken even after 6 years. Advocate Virendra Ichalkaranjikar (National President, Hindu Vidhidnya Parishad) wrote to the Secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice enquiring why no action has been taken in this case so far. Following is a gist.
1. Upon noticing that despite the appointment of a SIT, no action is being taken in this scam, Advocate Virendra Ichalkaranjikar sought information about the investigation of this scam under Right to Information (RTI) in the year 2020.
2. He was informed that investigation is in progress. Since no action had been taken even after 2 years of the RTI, Advocate Ichalkaranjikar wrote to the Secretary of the Ministry of Social Justice on 2nd June 2022.
3. Advocate Ichalkaranjikar demanded that the matter be investigated by the Economic Offences Wing and questioned whether there are insructions to ‘keep quiet’ in this matter. Advocate Ichalkaranjikar has warned of putting up a legal fight if no action is taken on this.
Attempt to cover up corruption by recovering embezzled funds
For the past 5 years, the Social Welfare Commissioner’s office has been recovering the embezzled funds. Of the Rs 1,826 crore embezzled, only Rs 96.16 crore have been recovered so far. The Ministry of Social Justice has been sending monthly reminders to the Social Welfare Commissioner for recovery of the amount. However, enquiries made by a representative of ‘Sanatan Prabhat’ has revealed that the Commissioner’s office is not forthcoming with information on what has been recovered from the embezzled amount so far.
Why did Dhananjay Munde (Minister of the Ministry of Social Justice) stop action ?
In 2017, when the BJP-Shivsena coalition Government was in power, the Minister of Social Justice Rajkumar Badole set up a SIT enquiry into the scam. During the tenure of the Mahavikas Aghadi Government, when Dhananjay Munde was the Minister of Social Justice, SIT submitted its enquiry report. SIT also mentioned the names of the guilty people along with the embezzlement amount. In 2019, the Ministry of Social Justice submitted a letter to Dhananjay Munde to initiate action against the guilty people. Munde even approved the action; however, the representative of ‘Sanatan Prabhat’ received information that hours after the action had been initiated, it was suspended. Action remains suspended over the last 4 years despite the report of the SIT. ‘Who put pressure on Dhananjay Munde to stop the action ?’, is the question that goes abegging. The public is asking if the newly- formed Government in Maharashtra will take action against those who embezzled the scholarship funds.
Are the officials of the Ministry of Social Justice suppressing the scam in connivance with Social Welfare Commissioner’s office ?
“In 2017, when a question was raised about this in the Legislative Council, the Minister of Social Justice admitted to the scam. Even after 6 years, strict legal action has not been taken against those who gobbled the scholarship funds. Is this scam being suppressed by the officials of the Ministry of Social Justice in con-nivance with Social Welfare Commissioner’s office ? Why are the Government officials satisfied only with recovering the funds ? Or have they been ordered to keep quiet in the matter ? All in all, this case is serious in nature. The names of the institutions guilty in the case must be declared and the cases be registered against the concerned people. Action should also be taken against people who are trying to cover up this case”, said Advocate Virendra Ichalkaranjikar.