Monday, May 30, 2011

FRAUD AND DECEPTION IN EDUCATION SECTOR IN INDIA


FRAUD AND DECEPTION  IN EDUCATION SECTOR IN INDIA:
INTRODUCTION:
The Sociologist, Edwin Sutherland, first coined the term "white-collar crime" around 1939, may not have imagined the alarming trends of white collar crimes in world ,especially India at a jet speed.
The common term associated with white-collar crime is fraud. Fraud is the intentional deception of a person, business; the motive of white-collar crime is personal gain. Individuals or groups may use and abuse their positions within a company to hide or steal money. [ Ed Bock/Corbis]
"White-collar criminals continue to pick our pockets to the tune of $300 billion every year. These 'socially acceptable' criminals rob more from companies and individuals with a pen or key stroke than a street thug can plunder with a high-powered pistol.[1]"
In Telugu,white collar criminal is aptly [proverbial terms] called  Musukhulo Pedda manishi  [criminal hiding in   gentleman‘s mask] [often quoted by famous Telugu character- actor Rao Gopal Rao ‘s dialogues ].Leaving no stone unturned to earn quick bucks, white-collar criminals strike from every angle.Whether they're doctors over-billing patients[recently in Hyderabad,some hospitals were booked]. charity workers pocketing donations, or lawyers abusing powers of attorney, their fraudulent practices cost individuals, companies, and institutions billions of dollars. Consider the following [USA]:
*Every year an average of $160 million is stolen or embezzled from schools and colleges all over the country
*Insurance fraud--property, casualty, and health--is a $95 billion-a-year scam
*Credit card fraud costs taxpayers nearly $3 billion per year
*Dishonest lawyers pocket more than $14 billion annually
*More than $21 billion is being stolen from charities each year.[2]
EDUCATION SECTOR
Education Sector in doldrums?

Whether corporatezation of educations means, education behind reach of middle class and weaker sections of the society.
The main allegations against private education sector is they are operating purely for profit motive and with no inclination to give quality education or serve middle classes or poor classes. [weaker sections]
According to Ernst & Young, the Education sector in India is poised at a crucial stage in its growth. India’s demographic advantage of having a large population of youth, coupled with low gross enrollment ratios, presents a huge opportunity to education sector players. 

According Educom ,Indian Education Sector(IES)  is by far the largest capitalized space in India with $30bn of government spend (3.7% of GDP; at global average), and a large network of ~1m schools and 18,000 higher education institutes[ literacy rate of 61% ]. 


It is fact that some of the institutes wants to exploit the situation by starting chain of institutes by charging huge fees and exploiting students.

Fraud &Deception in Education Sector:

The Government alone can’t provide education facilities to growing population, irony is that some of the private sector educational institutes are facing allegations like  poor infrastructure facilities or poor faculty, most experts believe that private institutes /universities are unable to attract good teachers, due to poor pay& service conditions ,devoid of any job security. Another common allegations faced by private education sector or some of institutes are facing legal hurdles from regulatory authorities for operating with out approvals or permits. It is observed that the most students from illegal institutions are in -eligible for government jobs or their degree are not recognized for jobs in foreign countries.
The act of giving scholarship or charity work is an eye-wash with an intention to divert people’s attention over their huge profits.

Whether starting institution without approvals and permits, constitutes Cheating &Deception? 

Recently, AICTE asked Government of A.P to book cases against 20 illegal institutions under Section 420 of Indian Penal code, 1872.The said institutes were functioning illegally with out any approval from regulatory authorities. 
It is observed that most of institutes are mushrooming due to active support of seasoned politicians, bureaucrats& police officials[IAS&IPS]. 
It is also observed that some reputed senior lawyers actively helping these institutes and their management for overcoming the court cases.
It is matter of irony, our courts are not able to do justice to students , who were cheated by illegal institutes ,who are flourishing ,due to loopholes in law and corruption in regulatory mechanism ,there are very few cases where management of institutes are punished by courts under appropriate provisions of law.

The illegal educational institutes are million -dollar business in India, it is presumed to be a lucrative business with no risk, it is also observed that people who are owners of illegal institutes have become rich over-night and en massed huge wealth by exploiting students and their parents.The members of teaching community are not rich ,but its owners are minting money , millionaires with huge money &immovable property.

Recently, fake air craft training   school scandal was unearthed ,there were allegations against pilots that they got fake licenses from fake institutes  , Many people started feeling insecure to travel by air, aircraft driven by fake license holder from fake institute. 

Crimes -Mens Rea -Companies:

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Iridium India Telecom Ltd V Motorola Incorporated & Ors., had held that, the Companies and corporate houses can no longer claim immunity from criminal prosecution on the ground that they are incapable of possessing the necessary mens rea for the commission of criminal offenses.

Do’s Or Don't for students:
  1. It is duty of students thoroughly verify the antecedents of the institution, whether possesses valid approval &permission from AICTE,UGC,Ministry of Higher Education and local permission from provincial government ‘s department of higher education. 
  2. Some of the international quality certification are not valid across the world or nor it means said institutes are recognized all countries[getting international certification is not an indication of quality and moreover getting certification is nothing but some paper work and paying prescribed fees] 
  3. Student should seek information under the relevant provisions of RTI act about their approval or permission from regulatory authorities viz.UGC/AICTE/DEC or PCI or MCI or BCI or Education Council of India. 
  4. It is duty of students to verify their claims of placements, instead of blindly believing their colorful brochures with attractive photographs and claims of placements in leading companies.
  5. It is duty of students to cross verify whether said qualification is recognized or valid for government jobs and higher education 
  6. Verify Whether said degree &qualification is recognized abroad or internationally. 
  7. Never opt finance given by its sister concern organization ,they charge huge interest. 
  8. Never fall prey to agents or touts, who invariably linked to illegal institutes in India or abroad. 
  9. Be aware of joint degree programs and verify their claims in both countries.Pl note that there is a provision of seeking permission to start joint degree programs.
  10. Never go abroad for study purpose with visitor visa [TRIVALLEY CASE] 
  11. Seek the embassy help with regard to verifying the institute claims and antecedents.

What Victims of illegal institute should do?
  • All victims should form into association and fight jointly rather than fighting in a individual capacity, fighting in group will fetch results and our courts will also view the batch cases more seriously, when large number of victims approach for justice.
  • Approach public spirited lawyer with good proven record of handling PIL cases [Public Interest Law ],rather than conventional lawyer[who may be influenced with money or favors or intimidated],attend cases regularly ,normally high courts allow parties inside the courts halls, it will have impact on the courts and generates support to victims.
  • Do research about ownership of the arraigned institutes or its management members to make them parties/accused  in the criminal cases and also civil cases to recover fees and damages. Normally principals or HOD [Professors ]will be paid employees,They have minimum role in decision making.
  • Include Legal Head & other active members  as one of the party in court cases ,if they are involved in administrative decision making and an active participants in all management meetings on the ground that he/she- is a party to wrong doing by disregarding  professional ethics and standards and for the violation of statutory obligations.
  • Report the matter to Income tax authorities or RBI or other authorities,in case institutes grabbed huge fees, it will help you in wining your original case.Do research on their IT returns and their properties.
  • Seek huge monetary compensation from courts for loss of academic year and jeopardizing the career. Never opt for compromise like return of fees paid, seek their punishment and monetary compensation. Never sign any papers with out seeking legal advice.
  • Approach people representatives like MLA or MPs to raise the issue in the state legislation or Parliament, because they are law makers and they will address the the issue of loopholes in law or lacuna's in regulatory laws.
  • Seek the help of committed student’s association ,civil society groups, RTI activists or social activist , women ‘s organization or committed civil rights activists.
  • If victims belongs to minorities ,Women or SC&ST, they can approach State Human Rights or National Human Rights Commissions or Women Rights Commission ,S.C&S.T Commission for violation of group rights under Human Rights Jurisprudence. Seek the support of NGO working on such issues.
  • Even international NGO help your cause ,when the issue is of international dimensions.{it was INGO who gave information of [DOW]  fugitive Anderson whereabouts]
  • Seek the media help and keep informing the media about court cases &updates. Do extensive campaigning about illegal institutes, so that other students will not fall prey to them..
  •     At any cost be united and never compromise nor give up the cases, it is advised to keep fighting till the logical conclusion of the case.
  •    Use all forums like sub-ordinate judiciary ,High Courts and Supreme Court or quasi -judicial bodies like NHRC, SHRC, or Lok-Ayuktha or law enforcing authorities like ACB wing of Police to corner the corrupt officials of state Administrative machinery or Approach CBI in case central Administrative machinery   


Law helps Vigilant not indolent or Caveat emptor –Buyer beware   

 



[1] Masters of Deception: The Worldwide White-Collar Crime Crisis and Ways to Protect Yourself-Louis R. Mizell
[2] ibid

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LAW AND SOCIETY