Court seeks VC affidavit on Rs 1.87crore scholarship fraud

NAGPUR: In yet another twist in multi-crore scholarship scam, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Monday was informed about a letter from Pune-based social welfare commissioner’s office that said prima facie there was a misappropriation of about Rs1.68 crore in distribution of scholarships to Nagpur University affiliated colleges.

A division bench of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi then directed NU vice-chancellor SP Kane to file a detailed affidavit in this regard within a week. The court also appointed Shyam Mohota as amicus curiae in the PIL. The letter was submitted by respondent — Central India Institute of Mass Communication (CIIMC) director Sunil Mishra — contending that petitioners were targeting only his college when a majority of colleges in state were facing enquiries regarding the scholarship scam.

The letter was written by deputy commissioner A Wadkute, who was part of a high-powered committee constituted by then social welfare commissioner Ranjeetsingh Goel, after TOI first exposed the massive scam in NU on August 10, 2014. In a series of reports, the newspaper had reported on modus operandi of 63 banned colleges on how their 2,815 “illegally admitted” students were granted scholarships without enrolment numbers.

Wadkute and his team comprising social welfare officer PM Pardeshi and finance officer M Palekar investigated the scam by visiting Bhandara, Gondia and Wardha, besides Nagpur, in August 2014 and collected the documents from respective offices of Social Welfare Department. The team then issued notices to assistant commissioners — Mangesh Wankhede (Nagpur), Ganesh Mohabansi (Gondia), Deosudan Dhargave (Bhandara) and Babasaheb Deshmukh (Wardha) — regarding several irregularities in scholarships distribution in their respective zones.

The court’s directives came while hearing a PIL by Umesh Borkar who prayed for action against Maharashtra government’s Social Welfare Department for failure to probe alleged scholarship scam at CIIMC. During last hearing, the petitioner was asked whether he would be depositing Rs3 lakh to prove his bona fides after he demanded constitution of special task force for probing allegations against Mishra. Borkar had pointed out that Social Welfare Department failed to recover dues of Rs59.26 lakh collected by CIIMC for backward class students. On Monday, he was told to deposit Rs15,000 after he expressed inability to pay such a big amount.
Meanwhile, CIIMC students also filed another case against the Social Welfare Department through counsel Bhanudas Kulkarni praying for early release of their scholarship dues that were kept on hold after Borkar filed the PIL.
According to the petitioner, CIIMC started nine new courses from 2013-14 session and NU Management Council fixed its fees that was comparable with other colleges offering similar courses. Mishra then applied for increasing the fees and NU granted an interim relief to him through the letter of then registrar Ashok Gomashe.


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