States

HC rejects plea of woman accused of misappropriating e-scholarship funds

The Bombay High Court recently dismissed an appeal filed by an employee of Mastek Company, who is alleged to have misappropriated over ₹7 crore allotted for a State scholarship provided to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) students. The court said, “The offence is not merely an economic offence, but it has destroyed the social fabric and uplift of the students belonging to reserved categories.”

Justice Sadhana Jadhav was hearing a plea by Sarika Kale challenging a sessions court order rejecting her bail on September 7, 2017, after a case was registered against her at Sadar Bazaar police station in Solapur.

The case was under Sections 408 (criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc.), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), and 120b (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The advocate appearing for Ms. Kale told the court that she has been an undertrial for about four years and that her co-accused Aamir Mehboob Tamboli was released on bail on January 16, 2016, with a surety deposit of ₹50 lakh.

The additional public prosecutor contended that the financial scam was unearthed because of a query made by RTI activist Tupsaminder to the office of the social welfare department.

The investigation revealed that the amount of misappropriation had been pegged at ₹7,15,05,907.

The scheme for providing the scholarship to the students belonging to SC, ST, nomadic tribes, Vimukta Jati, and the Special Backward Class was formulated by the State. It is known as e-scholarship, and it has been implemented since the academic year 2011-2012.

The State government had hired Mastek Company for implementing the e-scholarship, and Ms. Kale was one of the employees involved in brining the scholarship to the students.

The HC said, “She (Ms. Kale) is the kingpin in this scam, who has played a lead role in cheating the State by engaging in a conspiracy in a planned manner. The offence alleged against her is serious. The circumstances of the present case do not warrant enlargement of Ms. Kale on bail because the offence is not merely an economic offence, but it has destroyed the social fabric and uplift of students belonging to the reserved categories. She is the main beneficiary of the financial scam.”

The court dismissed the appeal, and said, “The money was meant for students of the backward class to enable them to pursue further studies. This economic offence must have ruined career of several students.”

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 3:38:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/hc-rejects-plea-of-woman-accused-of-misappropriating-e-scholarship-funds/article28416647.ece

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