Himachal multi-crore scholarship scam: CBI files charge sheet against 20 institutes, 105 individuals

The scam was unearthed following reports that the students of the government schools in the tribal Spiti valley in Himachal's Lahaul and Spiti district had not been paid a scholarship for the past five years.

Updated - March 30, 2024 12:13 pm IST

Published - March 29, 2024 05:10 pm IST - Shimla

22 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 scholarship. File image for representation.

22 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 scholarship. File image for representation. | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

The CBI has concluded its investigation in the Himachal Pradesh multi-crore scholarship scam with the filing of charge sheets against 20 institutions and 105 persons, officials said on Friday.

The charge sheets have been filed against the owners of educational institutes, the staff of Directorate of Higher Education, Shimla; bank officials and other private persons involved in the misuse of funds under scholarship and reimbursement scheme of fees launched by the Union government and implemented through the state government to help the students of SC, ST and OBC categories, a statement issued by the CBI said.

The scholarship scam started in 2012-13, when the scholarships for Schedule Caste (SC), Schedule 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. Eighty per cent of the scholarship money was paid to the private institutions.

The scam was unearthed following reports that the students of the government schools in the tribal Spiti valley in Himachal'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 on the request of the Himachal Pradesh government against the private educational institutions in Himachal for fake and fraudulent claims of scholarships of about ₹181 crore during the year 2013 to 2017.

Searches were earlier conducted at about 30 places on the premises of some people which led to the recovery of incriminating documents. 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.

The scholarships of about 32,000 students were not credited in their accounts and 80% of the scholarship money was paid to private institutions.

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 scholarship.

The investigations had revealed that fake letterheads were used by several educational institutions to show false affiliation in order to mislead the education department which failed to ensure physical verification of the infrastructure and the strength of students.

The other discrepancies included non-submission of Aadhaar numbers of the students by the institutions, using same Aadhaar accounts to withdraw the scholarships of multiple students who did not exist and opening of fake accounts in three nationalised banks.

The then superintendent grade-II in the higher education department, Arvind Rajta, who was dealing with disbursement of scholarships, had given over ₹28 crore of scholarship money to nine fake institutions in which his wife had 33% stakes.

Rajta had earlier been arrested in the case.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is also investigating the case to probe the money laundering angle, had made arrests in the past.

The ED had initiated money laundering investigation on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI under sections 409 (misappropriation), 419 (cheating by personation), 465 (forgery), 466 (forgery in electronic documents) and 471 (using forged document as genuine) of IPC on May 8, 2019.

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