Taking cognisance of the investigation by The Indian Express, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has sent a list of preventive measures to the States and the Union Territories.
The Centre has asked the principal secretaries and secretaries of the state to list down all the suspicious institutions and applications, conduct random checks and audits, use all the possible sources and indicators to identify schools on the National Scholarship Portal (NSP), make use of fraud detection software, and include more application data on the portal.
"The report details instances as well as modus operandi adopted by unscrupulous elements in collusion with some school authorities, possibly related officials and the bank correspondents, to defraud the beneficiaries under Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme of Ministry of Minority Affairs," the Centre's letter to states read.
Ministry of Minority Affairs has directed the authorities to implement the listed measures 'immediately for securing the process' for the academic year 2020-21. It has also asked the state governments to propose long-term actions that can be taken into the matter.
The pre-matric scholarship scam was first reported from Jharkhand, in which money meant for a scholarship for poor students from minority communities is siphoned off by some bank staff, school, government employees and middlemen. Further investigation into the matter revealed that the scam had roped schools from Bihar, Punjab and Assam as well.
Multiple arrests were made after the media exposed cases of the scholarship being illegally diverted in these states.