Cash-for-marks scam hits Gujarat medical college

first_imgWhen Gujarat’s Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) caught Bharat Sawant and Ashok Tailor accepting ₹20 lakh from a doctor couple to allow their daughter to appear in the final year MBBS examination of the Sumandeep Vidhyapeeth (SV), a deemed university that runs medical and dental colleges in Vadodara, the agency had little idea that a massive cash-for-marks and ‘donation’ scam would be unearthed.The ACB laid a trap to arrest Sawant and Tailor on Monday; the duo worked to collect money on behalf of Mansukh Shah, SV’s chairman and managing trustee. Subsequently, Mr. Shah was also arrested as the police established that the cash collected by the duo was meant for him.Following the arrest, the police raided several premises of Mr. Shah’s and recovered 200 signed cheques worth ₹101 crore from students. At the back of each cheque, the name and details of students were written, but the instruments did not have dates or the receiver’s name on them.“Cheques were taken in advance from students in addition to their regular course fees, which means those cheques were meant for other purposes, either as donation for admission, or as cash for marks in exams,” a senior official of the ACB told The Hindu, adding, “As per the modus operandi, the cheque was returned after the student paid in cash.”According to the assistant director of the ACB, D.P. Chudasama, after the arrest of Mansukh Shah and his agents, the agency has received a dozen complaints from current and ex-students that they were forced to pay a hefty amount in order to take exams.Mr. Chudasama added that the ACB had also collected documents related to ₹43 crore as fixed deposits in various banks, and papers pertaining to immovable properties and land parcels. Another ACB official pegged Mr. Shah’s empire at ₹1,500 crore, with annual donation income of close to ₹100 crore from 150 MBBS seats, 100 BDS seats, 112 MS and MD seats and 30 MDS seats in his colleges.Interestingly, the current president of the Medical Council of India (MCI), Dr. Jayshree Mehta, was earlier Vice Chancellor of SVU from 2007 to 2012.Considered a close aide of former MCI chairman Dr. Ketan Desai, Mr. Shah founded SVU’s medical and dental colleges, which were recognised as a deemed university by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 2013, so it has its own fee structure and admission process.All for a priceAccording to insiders, the donation for each MBBS seat is anywhere between ₹50 lakh to ₹ 1 crore, in addition to the regular course fee of ₹15.95 lakh for general category students, ₹11.96 lakh for Jain students, and $50,000 for students getting admissions in NRI (Non Resident Indian)-sponsored seats.Similarly for BDS, donation amounts range from ₹10 to ₹15 lakh, besides a regular course fee of ₹4.75 lakh for the general category, ₹3.56 lakh for Jains, and $13,000 for the NRI category.“Shah runs his university like a shop, selling seats and also higher grades in exams. This concept of a self-financed and deemed university needs to be reviewed because the entire process, from admission to fixing fees and taking the exam is done by itself, without the intervention of any outside agency,” said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker R.M. Patel, who earlier served as health commissioner of Gujarat.“Shah is a medical and education mafia and will be dealt with strictly as per the law,” said Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya. “Sumandeep (Vidyapeeth) is an epicentre of corruption in medical education in the State. We have been demanding that his [Shah’s] colleges should be de-recognised as it is a massive scam running into several thousand crores of rupees,” said Congress leader and syndicate member of the Gujarat University, Manish Doshi.A senior official in the Gujarat government told The Hindu that more than 40% students in SV are children of doctors from Gujarat and other States. Interestingly, even the main complainant is an Ahmedabad-based doctor couple, whose daughter is in the final year of MBBS at SV.The couple approached the ACB when they received a call from the college, asking for ₹20 lakh to enable their daughter to take the final year exam. “The college authorities would call parents before the exam, saying that their child has failed in the internal exam, and so would not be allowed to take the annual exam. Subsequently, after the payment of a certain amount, he or she would be allowed to take the exam and get good marks,” an insider said, explaining the cash-for-marks racket.last_img