The CBI has started probe into an alleged scholarship scam in Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam and Punjab.
The Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme is meant to help students of minority communities - Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhist - from families with annual income below 1 lakh, according to officials. It has been alleged that middlemen - with the help of government officials - have been siphoning off money and only a small sum of the scholarship ends up with the students.
While students from Class 1 to 5 receive Rs 1,000 per year as a part of the scheme, students of Class 6 to 10 receive Rs 10,700 annually if they are in a hostel, or Rs 5,700 a year if they are day scholars.
The scheme comes under the purview of the Union Minority Affairs Ministry. Taking note of the media reports, the Ministry had approached the central probe agency to investigate the alleged irregularities in November.
On the request of the Minority Affairs Ministry, the CBI's Anti-Corruption, Head Quarters branch has "initiated preliminary enquiry (PE)".
Registration of preliminary enquiry is the first process, and if the agency during the enquiry finds prima facie offence, a First Information Report or FIR will be registered.
Anticipating a probe, the Hemant Soren government in Jharkhand had revoked the general consent given to the CBI last month to stop the agency from taking over the probe; the state police has already registered a case to probe the allegations.
The CBI - apparently to find a way around the state government's move - has registered case at the Anti-Corruption headquarters, which has an all-India jurisdiction.
Of four states where the irregularities are alleged, the CBI has general consent in Bihar and Assam. The probe will begin from Bihar.