At least 51,000 forged university degree certificates have been used to get jobs or admissions into an institute for higher education, according to a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report submitted in the Bombay High Court on Wednesday.
The court had directed the CBI to probe the fake university degree racket when it was hearing a petition filed by a former principal of Siddharth Law College alleging that one of the college’s lecturers, Chitra Salunkhe, had submitted a forged degree certificate.
“There are 51,576 cases of forged certificates,” justice DY Chandrachud said after going through the report. The court did not clarify if this was a statewide or nationwide figure.
“The CBI report has also given some suggestions like having a system of e-certificates to minimise the risk of forging. What is that stand of the ministry [Union ministry of human resources] on this?” justice Chandrachud asked.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Chandrachud on Wednesday asked additional solicitor general Darius Khambatta to take instructions from the human resources development ministry on the possibility of issuing e-certificates in future.
Rui Rodrigues, counsel for the University of Mumbai, informed the court that the varsity has decided to withdraw the bachelors and masters degrees in law issued to Salunkhe.
Ashok Inamdar, former principal of Siddharth College, had filed a petition in 2007 alleging that Salunkhe had obtained a fake bachelor of arts degree from a university in Andhra Pradesh, which she used to get admission to the law course at the University of Mumbai.
Salunkhe had a degree in arts from Kakatia University in Warangal in 1988-1989. After she completed law, she started working as a lecturer at Siddharth College. Rodrigues told the court that Kakatia University had informed the University of Mumbai that it did not have any students by the name of Salunkhe.
Mihir Desai, lawyer for Siddharth Law College, told the court that the college had dismissed Salunkhe after an internal inquiry.