BENGALURU: The Directorate of Income Tax (Investigation), Karnataka & Goa, on Thursday conducted raids at former Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara’s house and other properties in relation to an alleged seat scam in two medical colleges.
The I-T sleuths also swooped down on educational institutions associated with Congressman and former Union minister, nonagenarian RL Jalappa.
The department’s action came as part of its probe to check alleged irregularities in seat allocation after the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). The sleuths raided 30 locations in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Delhi in this connection, sources told The New Indian Express. The raids, which began at 6.30 am, continued through the day.
Besides raiding Parameshwara’s properties, the I-T officials also searched the residence of his relative and personal assistant Ramesh, sources in the department said.
“The investigation has so far unearthed that 185 out of 300 government quota seats in the private medical colleges — Sri Siddhartha Medical College and Sri Siddhartha Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre, which come under the Sri Siddhartha Educational Society in Tumakuru and belong to Parameshwara; Sri Devaraj Urs Academy of Higher Education & Research in Kolar and RL Jalappa Hospital and Research Centre in Tamaka, Tumakuru, of Jalappa — were allegedly sold to ‘undeserving’ candidates, who had ranked as low as 8,20,000 in NEET 2019, at a premium price of Rs 50 lakh to Rs 60 lakh each,” said an officer.
Parameshwara said his family is not engaged in any business other than running the education institutions and has been filing income-tax returns promptly. The I-T searches were conducted under Section 132 of the I-T Act, have reportedly resulted in seizure of documents and unaccounted cash.
Thursday’s search and seizure operation has also exposed a wide network of agents and hawala operators, who were allegedly roped in for “hiring” some gullible government medical college students from Rajasthan, and collecting a huge amount of fees from undeserving and low-ranked students for admission in these medical colleges, sources added.
“The agents had lured medical students to appear for NEET for a monetary gratification of Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh each. The Income Tax Department, Rajasthan, has questioned nine of them in the racket, which is proving to be bigger than the 2013 Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, which was limited to the state,” the officer said.
“The tax sleuths seized a part of the admission booty of Rs 1 crore in cash from a hawala operator in the city, and Rs 3.5 crore from a property seller, who are allegedly part of the medical seat scam. They also reportedly recovered Rs 70 lakh in cash from Parameshwara’s residence in Sadashivanagar, where he was questioned the whole day. He has denied any wrongdoing,” the officer stated.
Explaining the modus operandi, the officer said that three months ago, the DGIT had got some credible input about an agent in Rajasthan, who had approached some students, offering them admission in these medical colleges in Karnataka for huge sums of money.“The DGIT had set up a decoy and approached the Sri Siddhartha chain of medical colleges for admission for their wards. They were told to keep Rs 50 lakh to
Rs 60 lakh ready. Later, tax officers found out that 100 medical undergraduates from government colleges in Rajasthan, some of who were in their second year of MBBS, had appeared for NEET and withdrawn their candidature after they qualified in the examination, leading to vacancy in those seats. Using non-availability of candidates, who had ranked 1,51,000 and above in NEET, these colleges then called students who had ranked as low as 8,20,000 in the all-India test, during the mop-up rounds and offered them the seats for Rs 50 lakh to Rs 60 lakh each. In SSM College, 89 government seats were allegedly auctioned, in SSIMS & R Centre 67 seats, and in Devaraj Urs College, 29 seats were reportedly sold,” he added. In 2017, I-T officals raided Congress leader DK Shivakumar over “undisclosed income”.The Congress was taken aback with the raids that coincided with the first day of the winter session.
Raids on 30 locations in K’taka, Rajasthan & Delhi
Searches expose wide network of agents and hawala operators in the medical seat scam
I-T sleuths set up decoy to unravel the racket