India’s Biggest Educational Scam: 36,000 Fake Degrees Found At This Renowned University (Full Details)
Manav Bharti University (MBU) of Solan in Himachal Pradesh has been embroiled in a massive scam, understood to have been ongoing since around 2009 when the institution was opened. Issuance of fake degrees numbering into over 36,000 to students across 17 states was first unearthed when an anonymous complaint was registered with the University Grants Commision
The UGC then proceeded to inform the authorities about the fraud back in 2019.
Seizure of assets and prime accused
So far only 14 out of a total of 55 hard disks have been scanned by an investigative team of CID. The number of unauthorised degrees issued is expected to grow as the remaining 41 hard disks wait to be scanned.
The main accused individual, Raj Kumar Rana, is the chairman of Manav Bharti Charitable Trust which also runs the university at the centre of the racket. His passport has been revoked and extradition proceedings have been initiated to bring back his wife, son and daughter from Australia, as stated by Director General of Police Sanjay Kundu.
Largest ever attachment of assets in money laundering probe
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets to the tune of Rs 194.17 crores, which can be broken up into Rs 186.44 crores worth of land, residential and commercial property located in Himachal Pradesh. The remaining Rs 7.72 crores can be attributed to 6 fixed deposits.
The figure of Rs 194.17 crores is being declared as the largest ever attachment of property to an educational institution in a money-laundering case.
Scam goes back over a decade
ED has also stated that the primary accused began issuance of fake degrees in the name of MBU from his office in Karnal, Haryana back in 2009. The fraudster proceeded to earn profits worth Rs 387 crores which was then invested in property in Rana’s own name as well as in his son’s and other family members’ names.
ED is now investigating a money-laundering scam which is also linked to the larger fake degree racket.
Three criminal cases under the sections 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (Forgery of valuable security, will, etc), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating) and 120-B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy) of IPC have been registered with Dharampur police.
Congress leader demands action
Rajinder Rana, MLA and Congress vice-president, who addressed media on Feb 4, suggested handing over the case to CBI, given the gravity of the situation.
He said that beyond the 17 states domestically, the scam has also affected people abroad.
He alleged that the BJP-led state government was trying to “shield the guilty” and keep the probe under wraps. He posits that this is because if a deeper probe was to be conducted, the names of certain politicians whose wards benefited from the scam might crop up.
This allegation comes in the backdrop of bail being granted to the main accused, compounded by lack of statement or acknowledgement by the state government.
He also pointed out that the manner in which private universities were allowed to open in 2008 reeks of intent to commercialise education.
MBU being one of the aforementioned private universities did not meet the prerequisites to operate, yet was still given the go-ahead to open.
Rana maintained that recognition of MBU must be cancelled, and its students should be accommodated in different universities.
The damage caused to students who depend on a well-earned degree to pave the way to a sustainable career cannot be undone, however justice can still be achieved by punishing those responsible in a timely and fair manner.