Of the applications received by the Delhi government under the seven scholarship schemes for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and minorities, only 0.004 per cent were cleared. What followed was a “cover up” and “misrepresentation of facts”, states a report by the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDC).
As reported by The Indian Express Monday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a note to Chief Secretary M M Kutty on June 30, said that files relating to more than five lakh such scholarships not being disbursed were “never put to my minister” between 2015 to 2017, and that “the elected government was kept in the dark”. Kejriwal also mentioned an inquiry by the DDC, ordered by him, in the matter.
On May 3 this year, the Ministry of Minority Affairs wrote to Chief Secretary MM Kutty that the ministry was “flooded with grievances and complaints from students of Delhi” about the scholarships, while noting that the Delhi government had been given an additional 18 days to complete the verification process on NSP.
The report by DDC quotes the chief secretary, in his reply on May 19, as saying that the government’s “district officials and majority of our staff” had been busy with MCD election-related work. The report argues that the MCD elections were conducted on April 23 and its notification issued on March 22, while the deadline for the verification of scholarships was March 20. “Clearly, the time period of the MCD elections and the verifications process do not overlap,” it states.
The report added that the “nodal officers” had “never complained that they were unable to complete their work due to MCD elections”. Further, earlier communications sent by the Delhi government had never blamed the elections, it noted. The report states that the first time the “excuse of MCD elections and Gurudwara elections” was cited by officials of the Delhi government was on May 3, when an official of the Department of SC/ST wrote to the ministry citing a meeting held by the secretary of the department a day earlier, where ADMs had mentioned they were busy. The report, however, counters that the minutes of the May 2 meeting “reveal that not a single ADM had cited either… as a reason for failure in completing the work”.
The Delhi government first communicated to the Centre that they wanted certain changes “in the work flow and in the portal” through a letter on December 21, 2016. The changes were made by the second week of February and was communicated to the Delhi government on February 20. In a letter by the chief secretary to the ministry dated May 19, a “justification” is given that after the changes were made, “officials were left with little time…to complete work,” states the report.
This, the report states, is a “misrepresentation of facts”, since, as per a file noting made by the deputy director of the department of SC/ST, the changes had been communicated by February 20. The report further states that “incorrect facts were projected” before the Centre as well, since the Delhi government was “given time till March 20 to complete the verification process” — a period in which “officials practically did nothing”. The report adds that “had the CM or the deputy CM been informed, they would have taken some steps to set things right as the scholarship crisis peaked just before the MCD elections and the political executive could ill afford such a situation on the eve of crucial polls”. Neither the Chief Secretary nor officials at SC/ST department were available for comments.