Loot of Rs. 50 crores through Illegal transfer of money of Students’ scholarship to the account of fake beneficiaries by committing fraud and forgery by Banks operating in Odisha in connivance with a coterie of State Govt. officials, Odisha Knowledge Corporation Limited and their agents
it is the routine affair of the Govt. of Odisha to release advertisement every year inviting on-line application from the students of +2, +3 students of different colleges, Post-graduate students of Universities and students of professional and technical educational institutions to apply for students scholarship. As per the information obtained through RTI, since 2010, the State Govt. has engaged three private companies like Odisha Knowledge Corporation Limited, CSM Technology, TQM service for verifying and processing the application of the students to get scholarship. These agencies prepare the list of deserving students and send it to the Govt. for release of money directly to their account through on-line Banking transfer system.
But since last five years from 2010-15, many fake and undeserving students are being sanctioned students’ scholarships through forgery and fraudulent means by these private companies by preparing false documents through their agents engaged across the state in association with corrupt bank officers. This is a racket operating in Odisha to swindle away Scholarship money through Banks and corrupt officials of Higher Education Department. This issue came to limelight when an amount of Rs. 20,000.00 was released each to the account of three +3 students of Raghunath College , Deuli and P.N. College, Bolagada of Khurda district and withdrawn on same day within 15 minutes of the deposit of the money on 15.1.15.
How it was exposed ?
As per the complaint filed by these three students namely Surya Prasad Sahu of P.N. College, Bolagada, Sagar Kumar Debta and Manas Kumar Singh of Raghunath College, Deuli to the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary, Govt. of Odisha and FIR lodged on 11.4.15, one day, an agent named Bibhuti Bhusan Lenka of Khurda district close to these students came to their house and told them to ensure availability of scholarship, if they will provide their documents, Bank Account no. opened in Punjab National Bank, Talatumba Branch. They got delighted and handed over all the documents. After few days, the agent came again on 14.1.15 and persuaded them for ATM Card and PIN No. On 15.1.15, these students saw the message in mobile about deposit of Rs. 20,000.00 in each account and withdrawal of the same within few minutes. But the agent gave them Rs. 500/- and took away all the money threatening them to keep it in secret.
After sharing this information with the parents and apprehending fraud and forgery in bank transaction, these three students formally filed complaint to Chief Minister, Odisha, Secretary, Department of Higher Education and Secretary, Department of Finance, Govt. of Odisha and Directorate of Treasuries and Inspection, Odisha, Bhubaneswar seeking an enquiry into it.
Then one parent Sri Ramesh Ch. Sahu pursued the case and tried to unearth the truth. He formally filed RTI Application dated 3.2.15 to the PIO, Dept. of Higher Education giving account number of three students ( Surya Prasad Sahu, Ac No- 2774001500001241, Sagar Kumar Debata, Ac. No.- 2774001500008174), Maas Kumar Singh, Ac.No.-2774001500003337) seeking the information whether the meritorious scholarship has been transferred to their accounts. On 2.4.15, the PIO replied that no amount has been transferred to these accounts.
This information created a lot of confusion among the students and the whole episode shrouded in mystery.
However, Sri Ramesh Ch. Sahu filed another RTI Application dated 4.4.15 to the PIO, office of Directorate of Treasuries and Inspection, Bhubaneswar seeking information about details of enquiry conducted and action taken on complaint filed by these students.
The response of the PIO dated 10.4.15 came with attachment of series of correspondence made between Directorate of Treasury and Inspection, Bhubaneswar and Punjab National Bank, Bhubaneswar. It was mentioned in the letter that “ on verification of the data generated electronically by the Central Electronic Processing Cell ( CePC) located at the Directorate of Treasuries and Inspection, Odisha on dated 14.1.15. It is seen that the data files does not contain these accounts number for credit as destination account”. However the Directorate wrote a letter to Punjab National Bank, station square , Bhubaneswar seeking an enquiry about it.
on 11.4.2014, the Punjab National Bank wrote a letter to Directorate of Treasury that “ we received large number of ECS credits from RBI every day and more than 50% account numbers mentioned in the RECS file contains wrong account number by omission/ wrong feeding of single digit/ last digit as zero. We match the name of the account holder with the account number and name in the RECS file received from RBI site and give credit to the actual beneficiary by rectifying the single digit.”
As per Banking norm, in case of any kind of mismatch of account number, the Banks are required to return the transaction to the RBI and the same is returned back to the Central Electronic Processing cell as failure payment electronically.
But, the question arises, how the Punjab National Bank itself suo moto rectified the account number and deposited the money in another account without returning the money to RBI. It is proved that the senior officers of the said Bank are involved in forgery and in connivance of with frauds. They have facilitated a number of illegal transaction and misappropriated huge money meant for students’ scholarship.
It has also come to our notice from some reliable sources that not only Punjab National Bank but other Banks are also involved in this forgery and misappropriation of Students’ scholarship fund in Odisha.
While looking at magnitude of forgery and malpractice by OKCL and Banks through their agents, we have a considered view of loot of Rs. 50 crore from state exchequer through fraudulent means.
Steps taken by Odisha Soohana Adhikar Abhijan
1. On 29.9.16, a Press meet was organised at Lohia Bhawan to expose magnitude of crores of fraud and forgery by Odisha Knowledge Corporation Limited in connivance with corrupt Bank officials and Higher Education Dept. in distribution of Medhabruti.
2. On 30.9.16, Mass Media highlighted the news and made good coverage of the issue.
3. On 3.9.16, a three member delegation of Pradip Pradhan, Sudhir Mohanty and Sri Ramesh Ch. Mohanty met Ombudsman of Reserve Bank of India and filed complaint seeking enquiry into Banking fraud by Punjab National Bank.
4. On 4.10.16, a five member delegation of Pradip Pradhan, Sudhir Mohanty and Sri Ramesh Ch. Mohanty, Ranjan Kumar Das and Sachikant Pradhan filed complaint in CBI seeking equiry into banking fraud and loot of 50 crore with involvement of nationalised banks.