CBI Investigates Massive ₹144 Crore Scholarship Scam Across 21 States and 830 Organizations

The Ministry of Minor Affairs provides various scholarships during its five-year term, and during this period, an irregularity was found in one such scholarship. The Ministry had reported this matter to the CBI.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s largest investigative agency, has registered an FIR related to alleged irregularities in a scheme of the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises. Under the ministry’s small-scale scholarship program, approximately 830 fake institutions received around ₹144 crore between 2017 and 2022. CBI is now conducting a thorough investigation, involving banks, institutions, and other parties, to uncover various forms of wrongdoing in this case.

The CBI has registered a case based on the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises’ complaint.

An internal inquiry by the ministry has revealed that there have been irregularities in approximately 21 states under the scheme. Initially, these concerns were reported to the CBI on July 10th. Subsequently, CBI has filed FIRs against unidentified individuals in connection with the case.

According to news agency PTI, the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises has also submitted a request in this case.

The ministry has stated that there were many irregularities in the disbursement of funds under the scholarship scheme, following which the ministry collaborated with the National Council of Applied Economic Research for a comprehensive third-party audit of the entire scheme. With the assistance of the National Scholarship Portal, the ministry conducted a thorough investigation and identified discrepancies. Out of a total of 1572 institutions shortlisted under the NSP, the ministry found that approximately 830 institutions were non-operational or fake.

According to a report prepared by the Ministry, a significant number of fraudulent applicants are from states like West Bengal.

Where the scheme has been widely abused. The report indicates that these fraudulent institutions are spread across 21 states, with the highest numbers in Assam (225), Karnataka (162), Uttar Pradesh (154), and Rajasthan (99). Most of the major irregularities have been found at the school and institutional levels, where the scheme is not operational, yet they have been receiving its full benefits. The majority of these fraudulent applicants hail from states like West Bengal, where applications for scholarships have been misused. According to the Ministry’s assessment, from 2017-18 to 2021-22, the Ministry incurred an approximate loss of ₹144.33 crores.

Niyati Rao

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