CAG detects post-matric scholarship scam in Haryana
Suspected fraudulent payments to the tune of multi-crore were released by manipulating Aadhaar numbers of students under the post-matric scholarship scheme between 2014-19 in Haryana, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
Not just this, 52% applicants were paid scholarships during 2015-19, while 37% approved cases didn’t get the scholarship.
The technical education department didn’t pay ₹18 crore scholarship to 7,757 students though the amount was sanctioned and drawn from the treasury.
The objective of the Union government-funded post-matric scholarship scheme is to give financial aid to the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Other Backward Class (OBC) students pursuing post-matric courses through recognised institutions. The students should be residents of Haryana to be eligible for the scheme.
The financial irregularities range from “ ₹4.74 crore suspected fraudulent scholarship payments” made to students studying outside Haryana, to fraudulent payment of ₹9.65 crore scholarship as the CAG could not verify the details with supporting records.
“The suspected fraudulent payment of ₹19 crore was made by manipulating Aadhaar numbers of students,” says the CAG report (2018-19 fiscal) tabled on the floor of Haryana Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday.
Inadequate scrutiny of income/caste certificates, etc of students resulted in irregular payment of ₹2 crore scholarship.
Funds drawn in anticipation of expenditure were kept in bank accounts and unspent funds were not deposited in government account resulting in loss of interest of ₹6.43 crore to the state exchequer.
As per the CAG report, the higher education department paid ₹11 crore scholarship to two colleges (Rohitash Degree College, Ateli, and Rohitash Institute of Management, Ateli) during 2014-18 for 3,598 SC/OBC students of these institutes.
The CAG audit obtained registration data of all students admitted to these colleges from the affiliated universities and matched the details of all students shown to have studied in these Institutions with the university registration data.
“These institutes had claimed and received payment of scholarship of ₹7.36 crore for 2,490 students who were not registered with the respective universities,” the CAG said.
Also, 12 students of general category had claimed scholarship of OBC category and 182 students of general and OBC category had claimed scholarship of SC category resulting in excess claim.
The details of 532 students for whom payment of ₹1.70 crore was made to the colleges matched with the university data, but their courses did not match with that of the university records.
“Thus, payment of ₹9.65 crore scholarship in respect of 3,216 students was suspected to be fraudulent,” the CAG said.
Lack of planning
The CAG pointed out lack of planning, deficiencies in financial management, inadequate scrutiny of applications of students, irregularities in disbursement of scholarship, suspected fraudulent payment, weak monitoring mechanism, etc.
The total financial implication of the audit is ₹89 crore, including suspected fraudulent payments.
The CAG pointed out that the number of beneficiaries in Haryana was declining in comparison to other states. The audit observed that pendency of cases with the department was one of the reasons for decline in the number of beneficiaries.
“The principal secretary (welfare of SC and BC) told the CAG in May 2020 that decline in number of beneficiaries was due to processing of applications through online portal. The reply,” CAG said, “wasn’t convincing.”