The human resource development ministry counter for degree attestation near Gate No 9 of Vidhan Bhawan has reduced to a money-minting window, if one goes by the victims' account.
A simple educational certificate authentication exercise for overseas jobs, which officially comes for free, is done at a price between Rs. 500 and Rs. 2,500 resulting in inconvenience to applicants, most of whom come from outside the state capital.
Sample this: On December 31, Rehan, 27, a resident of Bahraich, with a lucrative job offer in Dubai applied for graduation educational degree attestation at the HRD degree attestation counter (number 6) with the application form and required documents.
The on-duty clerk told him that he should attach a copy of the visa for getting the degree attested. Since he was yet to seek an employment visa from the United Arab Emirates (where he had applied for the job), he left the counter.
Within no time someone from the adjacent counter informed him that he can get the degrees attested if he paid Rs. 2,000.
"I paid him and got attested certificates later in the evening. I was left with no option, or I would need to go back home and come again," Rehan told HT.
Through unnecessary delays and strategically framed excuses, the applicants seeking a simple authentication of their original degrees are forced to grease the palms of the clerks on duty.
Officially, there is no cost for the attestation process mandatory before applying for a job abroad.
Additionally, agents armed with the best of fake stamps, are also on the prowl all the time to provide assistance to the applicants.
Seconding Rehan, another candidate Ahtesham a BDS student from Bihar, who wanted to attest his degree from a Azamgarh medical college, said, "At times they want you to attach the documents which are not mentioned in the form. On other occasions they would unnecessarily delay the process. First they have all the excuses on the Earth, and then they want money. What can one do when he has to get it done within a day?"
While money-minting exercise remains a common practice, agents with fake stamps are also on the prowl most of the times.
Worse still, many agents carry out fake attestations on the original certificates without the knowledge of the certificate holder.
"Presently there is no online facility available to check the originality of authenticated documents and hence most of the times, fake attestations go unnoticed. Hence even the document owner is incapable of detecting a fake attestation," another applicant said.
Clearly there is no guarantee that fake degrees are not attested in the existing system.
When contacted a senior official in the education department said, "I can't comment on this. People sitting on the counter would know better. And then people should avoid giving bribes."