For a year, they helped numerous students get admission to top colleges under Delhi University (DU) with forged documents.
The accused — Arvind Yadav (a Hindu College graduate), Daya Ram (a retired school teacher from Agra in Uttar Pradesh) and a 19-year-old second-year student at Sri Venkateswara College — charged between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for an admission.
The three were arrested last month after someone tipped off the Crime Branch. Police have named Yadav the kingpin of the racket.
Over the following weeks, police uncovered at least 16 cases of admissions secured on the basis of forged or fake documents at four DU colleges — Sri Venkateswara, PGDAV (Evening), Hindu College and Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College. The investigation, which has been widened to include all DU colleges, is being led by Assistant Commissioner of Police KPS Malhotra.
In one case, a student, who allegedly submitted a forged marksheet at Hindu College in 2013, studied for a year before leaving this year after failing in his term examinations. The student, who is absconding, had bagged a seat in Physics (Honours) course, police said. The last cutoff for the subject at the college was 96.66 per cent in 2013.
In all the cases uncovered by police, the forged marksheets submitted to the university bear the names of schools affiliated to the Uttar Pradesh higher education board — the Board of High School and Intermediate Education, Uttar Pradesh.
The accused told police that they selected bonafide marksheets from the website of the Board, took printouts and forged them. The marksheets uploaded on the website did not have the name of the school or the candidate’s date of birth — a crucial omission by the Uttar Pradesh higher education board which the accused used to their advantage.
Yadav told police they would first find a bonafide marksheet with a same or similar name as that of the student who approached him for a fake marksheet. It was “tricky but easy”. It took hours of painstaking surfing, he told his interrogators.
Because the Uttar Pradesh higher education board has the maximum number of students appearing for Class XII Board exams every year, it is not difficult to find a similar name among the 25-lakh marksheets readily available on the website, he told police.
“It only requires hours of surfing, typing random numbers, and I did not mind it as long as I was making several lakhs of rupees for every marksheet,” he told police.
An investigating officer said, “If the marksheet of a student on the website had very high scores and if the name matched the client’s name, all they did was take a printout and then prepare a forged marksheet. If the name on the marksheet matched their client’s, but the score was low, then the accused would prepare forged Scheduled Caste (SC)/Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) certificates to secure admission under quota.”
Since the marksheets uploaded on the Uttar Pradesh higher education board’s website do not mention the name of the school, Yadav took the help of Ram to fraudulently procure school leaving certificates from two schools in Agra, police said.
In all the fraud admissions detected so far, the students submitted documents that showed they had studied at DAV Inter College or Radha Ballabh Inter College in Shahganj, Agra, police said.
Police suspect the role of an insider, who they believe helped Ram get the certificates from those schools. “We will investigate the role of people in those schools, but at a later stage. At the moment, we are busy co-ordinating with all the colleges under Delhi University. We have written to the principals of all DU colleges, asking them to give us information about students who have submitted school leaving certificates from these two schools,” a police officer said.
FORGED SC/ST CERTIFICATES
Yadav told police a caste certificate is the easiest to forge or even prepare. All that is required is a desktop at home, he claimed.
Explaining how the accused prepared caste certificates, a police officer said, “If you look at a caste certificate, you will see that it is a piece of paper mentioning the name of the caste and the Article of the Constitution under which the particular caste or tribe has been recognised by the Constitution. It is signed by a government official of the state concerned and contains no other details. The format is the same for all states. The accused printed forged caste certificates and used the fake seal of a sub-divisional magistrate in Jharkhand on them.”
In one case detected at PGDAV (Evening) College, a girl had submitted her original marksheets, but allegedly attached a fake caste certificate. She secured admission in BCom (Honours) course at the college this year and attended classes until the fraud was detected. Her admission has been cancelled by the the college.
College principals told police that at the start of every academic session, each caste certificate submitted by a student is sent to the state where it is issued for verification, but, on many occasions, they do not receive any reply. One principal told police that several government officials in other states do not even bother to reply or write back to the college.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES CATEGORY
During questioning, Yadav said while studying in Hindu College, he had read about a similar admission racket being busted by the Crime Branch in 2010-11. Yadav claimed that he realised there were numerous ways to breach the system. He observed that year after year, no admission took place under the Persons with Disabilities Category (PwD) category in most colleges. Yadav, police said, thought he could take advantage of this.
In two cases uncovered so far, police found that the students had submitted fake medical certificates to secure admission under the PWD category. When police arrested Yadav from his Honda Endeavour in Dwarka, they also found the fake seal of a doctor practising at Bara Hindu Rao Hospital. The same seal was used on the fake medical certificate submitted by a student at Sri Venkateswara College. The student was shown to have weak eyesight.
“If a student produces a government doctor’s certificate, then there is no way the college authorities can verify the truth about the disability. Yadav said a forged marksheet, with a caste certificate and a PWD certificate attached, was the best way to guarantee admission,” a police officer said.
LOOPHOLES IN SYSTEM
Yadav, who graduated from Hindu College, was well-acquainted with the admission procedure at DU. He told police it is not possible for the university officials to verify each and every document submitted by the students. Because Yadav copied the statement of marks and roll number of bonafide students from the Uttar Pradesh higher education board website, a cursory check of the forged documents submitted by his clients would show the same marks, roll number and name of the student on the computer screen.
With hundreds of marksheets to verify and the name of the school missing on the marksheet, Yadav alleged the officials would only bother to check the name and roll number after which the papers would be forwarded to the next department.
Explaining the verification procedure at the university, police said there are five officials who sign on the documents submitted by the students and verify their authenticity.
The first is a teacher from the course or subject in which the student has applied. The second is a clerk at the administrative office, while the third is the admission coordinator. Once the papers are cleared by the first three, they are signed by a clerk in the principal’s office and finally submitted to the principal for confirmation.
“There are thousands of students who take admission. So it becomes impossible for the principal to check every file. The principal trusts the other four people who have forwarded the papers to him/her,” a police officer said.
HINDU COLLEGE FRAUD
During investigation, police uncovered a fraudulent admission at Hindu College. The son of a property dealer in Delhi had secured admission in Physics (Honours) course at the college in 2013. The student studied for a year at the college after gaining admission through a forged marksheet, which showed that he had scored more than 96 per cent. He left the college in April this year after failing in his term exams.
The case was detected following Yadav’s questioning. Yadav told police that he had taken Rs 8 lakh from the student. On verifying his admission form, police found that the photograph he had submitted was that of Yadav, while the address furnished was that of the second-year student of Sri Venkateswara College arrested in the case.
Police have asked college authorities for the identity card issued by the college to check the photograph on the card. Police claimed they are yet to receive it.