ome super-rich and elite families in Delhi are fudging income certificates to masquerade as economically weaker sections (EWS) and get their children admitted to top schools, it has emerged.
In the bargain, poor children are robbed of their right to study in these schools.
Some of these high and mighty people, who own high-end cars like Jaguars, employ a well-oiled machinery of touts and school staff to usurp the quota fixed for EWS children.
An exclusive India Today TV investigation reveals that this racket is being run by middlemen who project the super-rich as people earning less than Rs 1 lakh a year by obtaining forged income certificates from the local SDM’s office.
The catch is that for admissions to nursery classes, 25 per cent of seats in Delhi’s schools have been reserved for the children of poor parents who earn less than Rs 1 lakh annually. So the moneyed parents pay anything from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh to the touts for the guarantee of an EWS seat, which their child doesn’t deserve at all.
In several cases that have come to light, touts used highly unusual, though effective, ways to guarantee admissions for the payment they received. In a peculiar instance, they arranged for chits bearing the names of rich kids to be kept in a refrigerator for a significant period. The aim was to avoid any suspicion in a seemingly blind draw of lots by the school management, while making it easy to identify by touch which of the chits needed to be picked up.
While the police have busted only one such racket, at Pitampura’s Bal Bharti School, the mastermind of the scam is still at large. The police have managed to arrest four members of the gang.
As per India Today TV’s investigation, the lynchpin of the scam is a woman, who has been identified as Puneeta. She is said to be charging anywhere between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh from well-to-do parents for securing admission for their kids under the EWS quota.
How it works
The modus operandi was extremely simple: She obtained fake income certificates on fake addresses, and later, after securing an admission, would get the name changed to that of the boy whose parents had paid up.
As per the available information, police have registered around 300 such cases. In one such FIR, the crime branch claims to have found that two certificates used to get admission into two schools — Lancers Convent and GD Goenka Public School, both in Rohini — carried the same name for the applicant and his father, and had been procured for the admission of someone named Khushi.
The names of the ward were later changed to Rhythm and Cheshna, respectively.
The applicants’ addresses were different, but the certificates were issued for admission in academic year 2014-15.
The crime branch also found that Puneeta had used a certificate for more than one fake admission.
The India Today TV’s investigation revealed that a fake income certificate can be manipulated at an SDM’s office for Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500. A broker outside the SDM’s office pointed to a tout who promised a certificate without any documents within a week, when the actual process takes nearly three weeks.
“I need only your driving licence and I will deliver to you the certificate in a week. If you go through the normal process, you will need an Aadhaar card, an electricity bill, a residence proof or rent agreement and it will take nearly a month for you to get the certificate,” the tout explained.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Jt CP, crime branch) Ravinder Yadav said his team had made a major breakthrough and already arrested four persons in the admission scam. He went on to list over a dozen schools where the police found a whiff of the scam.
The schools on the Jt CP’s list include DPS, Rohini; DPS, Vasant Kunj; DPS, Mathura Road; DPS, RK Puram; Modern School, Humayun Road; Ryan International School; Bal Bharti School, Pitampura; Lancers Convent; Montfort School, Ashok Vihar; GD Goenka Public School, Rohini; Heritage School, Rohini and Vikas Bharti, Rohini.
Admissions and the blame game
Who should be blamed for the questionable admissions in nursery seats that were meant for the poor?
While some parents accepted that they had committed a mistake by getting their children admitted to school nursery berths which belonged to the poor and economically weaker sections of the society, others blamed the police and schools for the bungling.
A parent in the Pitampura locality, who secured admission for her kid at the Bal Bharti School in the same area, lost her cool when India Today TV inquired about how she had pulled the admission rabbit out of the school cap.
“At least 500 kids from rich families have done the same thing. It is the fault of the teacher and the school. When we went to her she told us that we were not eligible under the scheme, but why did she not turn us down? Why did she sign our documents? Why hassle us? Ask the police and the school,” she said.
Another mother accepted that a mistake had been committed, but blamed a family friend for ensnaring her in the trap.
“I secured admission for my ward not through some middleman, but a family friend who said he would help us. As a friend I had no reason to suspect what he will do to get my kid in the school. Ultimately, I ended up paying Rs 3 lakh for the admission,” she said on camera.
India Today TV also came across another parent, a father, who had secured admission through a fake EWS certificate even though he owned a Jaguar.
He tried to justify the act on the basis of age, saying: “I am a 56-year-old father.”
The man had, however, masked his riches perfectly while he visited the crime branch office – he went there in an autorickshaw.
Schools tried to wash their hands of the controversy, saying they had followed the rule book.
“These admissions have been done legally. We followed the due process. We invited applications. These applications were accompanied by photocopy of documents. For admission purpose we have to go through the process of lottery in presence of a government representative. When our staff checked the documents, they appeared real. Nobody can tell looking at the documents that they are fake,” said Manju Rajput, principal of Modern School, Humayun Road.
Ryan International in Rohini denied having come across any fake document