Six parents and two people acting as agents were arrested on Thursday for producing fake birth certificates to avail admissions in the first round of the Right to Education (RTE) quota. The agents allegedly helped acquire the fake certificates.
On the certificates, the dates of birth were changed so that it could fit the eligibility bracket — between three and five years depending on the class applied to. The dates was changed to September 30, 2017 from July 31, 2017.
The scam came to light when Rebecca Shinde, principal, Chetumal Bhoolchand Murlidhar School, Sion, was checking the documents of the students. This year, the schools are supposed to verify the documents. Applicants were not required to submit them while filling the online admission forms.
She grew suspicious when she noticed that six birth certificates were issued on March 17, 2017, just a day before the deadline for confirming admissions. Additionally, these documents were of a slightly different colour than the rest, with a hazy logo.
Shinde asked the parents to submit proof of their pregnancy — medical records or doctors’ bills — but they were unable to do so. “I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. Why would someone wait till the last minute to procure such an important document? I immediately informed the education department officials,” she said.
But her complaints fell on deaf ears. “Instead of helping out, I was asked to mind my own business.”
Shinde approached the BMC ward office in the F/north zone and found that the registration numbers on the documents didn’t match with the BMC records. “The certificates bear the signature of the deputy municipal medical officer. Unless, it was forged, it is surprising that the officer didn’t notice the discrepancy while signing them,” said Shinde.
The school has cancelled admissions. “We will not allow them to continue as RTE students, they will have to pay the normal fee if they want to remain in the school,” said Shinde.
According to the Antop Hill police, two agents-Kamruddin Shaikh, 37 and Yunuse Ismail Baza, 42, procured the certificates for the parents. A case of cheating and forgery has been registered against them. “We arrested eight persons, including six parents and two agents, based on the complaint of the principal,” said Nasir Shaikh, senior police inspector, Antop Hill police station.
The accused were produced before a local court, on Friday and have been remanded in police custody up to Monday.
BMC education officials said that they were looking into the case. “The principal didn’t inform us before approaching the police,” said Mahesh Palkar, education officer, BMC education department, which conducts the admissions.
What was the scam?
Parents have been accused of submitting fake birth certificates so that their children can fit in the age bracket for RTE admissions.
What was the loophole: This time applicants didn’t have to submit any documents while filling the online form, onus of verification of documents was on schools.
What is RTE admissions:
Students from economically and socially weaker sections are entitled to free education from Class 1 to Class 8 according to the RTE Act, 2009. Unaided and non-minority schools across the country are mandated to reserve 25% seats for such students.
Last year in August, two Goregaon schools had found 11 students submitting fake income certificates to show annual income of less than one lakh, when their actual income was much more
A school in Grant Road had hired private detectives and found that a student applying for RTE seat was living in an expensive South Mumbai apartment.