An official involved in the investigation told ET that all these candidates secured merit seats in their state based on their NEET ranking (national eligibility cum entrance test), but they also appeared before the national level single-window seat selection process to pick up and block seats in the three medical colleges in Karnataka so that the respective colleges could fill up their seats under the management quota upon their surrendering them, for a hefty donation. Regulations allow such lapsed seats to go back to the deemed universities to be filled under the management quota. Investigators have accused college admission personnel and agents of collecting the donations in the form of large volumes of cash.
Only those candidates who clear the NEET are eligible to claim medical seats either in their respective states or in medical colleges run by deemed universities. While state governments conduct seat allotment process for government-quota seats in private medical colleges affiliated to their universities, the Centre has its own process for candidates seeking admission in deemed universities. Both processes happen based on NEET ranking.
The I-T investigation wing officials conducted extensive raids at 28 places in Bengaluru and Delhi from Thursday to Saturday, including at the residence of former Congress Deputy CM G Parameshwara. The colleges where seats were surrendered are Sri Siddhartha Medical College (SSMC) and Sri Siddhartha Academy of Higher Education (SSAHE), both in Tumakuru district and controlled by the Congress leader’s family, and Devaraj Urs Medical College, controlled by the family members of the former minister RL Jalappa.
Parameshwara may not encounter any immediate political issues as a result of the income tax raids on the two medical colleges controlled by his family as his nephew has accepted responsibility for the alleged cash transactions, investigators told ET.
Parameshwara is the Chancellor of the two medical colleges Sri Siddhartha Medical College (SSMC) and Sri Siddhartha Academy of Higher Education (SSAHE), both in Tumakuru district. He is also the chairman of the trust that runs the two colleges. Dr. G.S.Anand, the Congress leader’s nephew and the governing body member of the colleges, however, is learnt to have signed a confessional statement in a bid to absolve his uncle of responsibilities in connection with the recent medical admissions. Parameshwara had, on Saturday, said he did not know much about the admissions process because he was more preoccupied with politics, and kept himself away from the day to day operations of the educational institutions. He had also distanced himself from the political colour his party sought to attach to the raids signaling a conciliatory approach to the tax investigations.
Anand’s statement may help the Congress leader in the near term, but what will happen in the long term depends on how the investigations play out and the new angles that may emerge. The I-T department has said the three medical colleges affiliated to separate deemed universities in Karnataka allegedly collected between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 65 lakh per medical seat. The I-T investigation wing will write to all agencies tasked with overseeing medical admissions alerting about the seat-surrender racket. Other regulators and government agencies are expected to take the probe forward forcing the government to tighten the regulations.
The I-T department officials told ET that they have issued summons to Parameshwara to appear before them for questioning on Tuesday. The Congress leader said he was open to provide clarifications to specific queries from the investigators.
The I-T officials said they neither took any signed statement from Ramesh, the Congress leader’s PA who allegedly committed suicide on Saturday, nor did they secure a warrant in his name as they did not find a need to probe him after studying his bank transactions and assets in his name. The officials said Ramesh was present in the Congress leader’s house until they left at 3 am on Saturday morning, and he did not betray any unusual behavior.
The investigators said the two colleges accounted for a lion’s share of the 185 admissions made under the management quota seats after as many students surrendered the merit seats they had secured in the all India single-window seat selection process based on their NEET ranks.
The I-T investigation officials conducted simultaneous raids at several places in Karnataka and Delhi, including on the residence Parameshwara and the medical colleges controlled by him, until Saturday morning in connection with large volumes of undisclosed cash transactions in medical admissions. They also raided people connected with Devaraj Urs Medical College in Kolar district. The I-T department investigators have, meanwhile, estimated size of the scam in medical admissions in Karnataka, which it has termed as undisclosed income, at about Rs. 125 crore.