IT dept unearths 'cash for medical seat' scam worth 400 cr in Karnataka
- The search was conducted at 56 different locations across Karnataka and Kerala
The Income Tax (I-T) department on Thursday said that search and seizure operations conducted in nine major trusts in Karnataka have revealed evidence of cash-for-seat malpractice. The search and seizure operations were conducted in trusts registered in Bengaluru and Mangaluru, running educational institutions including medical colleges.
“The search was conducted at 56 different locations across Karnataka and Kerala. During the search and seizure operation, it was found that the transparent selection process for medical colleges through NEET has been subverted by the trustees and key persons running these medical colleges in collusion with agents/brokers and some students who got high ranks in NEET examination,” read the I-T department statement.
According to the I-T department, the first stage of malpractice for these medical colleges is to get students who have scored high ranks in NEET examination to take admission for MBBS and other courses in their institutions. However, these students have no intention of joining these institutions since they are expected to get admissions at better medical colleges.
This arrangement ensures that during the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) counselling process, these seats remain occupied. Subsequently, these students withdraw from the admission process, making the vacant seats available for the college management. These regular seats then get converted into management seats.
These seats are then made available during the “stray vacancies round”, which is the filling of remaining vacant seats after the initial round of admissions. In this round, the seats are filled by the college management by admitting candidates who have scored low ranks in NEET. For this, the college collects a huge sum as capitation fees or donations.
The I-T department said that such a collection of fees is illegal under the Karnataka Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Capitation Fee) Act, 1984. “Also, there is evidence indicating that one of the medical colleges has some sort of a “package arrangement” for passing management quota students in written examination and viva voce for a fixed sum ranging from ₹1 lakh to ₹2 lakhs,” the I-T department said.
The evidence gathered by the I-T department indicates that ₹402.78 crore has been accepted as illegal capitation fees by manipulating the online admission process and the same has not been disclosed to the Income Tax Department.
The search has resulted in the seizure of cash amounting to ₹15.09 crore, gold jewellery worth ₹30 crore, 50-carat diamonds and 40 kilograms of silver articles from the residential premises of the trustees.