CBI registers FIR in Rs 144.33 cr minority scholarship scam

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New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered an FIR in connection with an alleged minority scholarship scam worth Rs 144.33 crore.

The amount of the scam, which took place from 2017-18 to 2021-22, amounted to Rs 144.33 crore and involved 830 institutes where fake beneficiaries were identified during the investigation.

The CBI had received a complaint regarding this from the Ministry of Minority Affairs, after Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani drew the agency's attention to this issue in July this year.

The Ministry of Minority Affairs has implemented three scholarship schemes -- pre-matric scholarships, post-matric scholarships, and merit-cum-means -- for students from six minority communities - Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis.

These scholarships are provided to the minority students studying in more than 1.8 lakh institutions. Over the last five years ending in 2021-22, an average of 65 lakh students received scholarships annually.

The Ministry schemes are part of a Centre Sector Scheme (CSS), with 100 per cent funds directly disbursed to the students through the direct benefit transfer (DBT) mode via the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) by the Central government.

"Considering the various reports of embezzlement of funds under the scholarship schemes, the Ministry engaged the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) to conduct a third party evaluation of the schemes. Additionally, the Ministry carried out evaluations through the National Scholarship Portal by flagging doubtful institutions/applicants.

"A total of 1,572 institutes were selected for evaluation based on red flags generated on NSP. Out of these, 830 institutions across 21 states were found to be either non-operational, fake, or partially fake," stated the Ministry letter.

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