Fadnavis Orders ED to Probe Cases of Corruption Against Some Education Officers
In an unprecedented move, Maharashtra Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will launch investigations into corruption cases within the education department in Nashik. This decision came after former CM Prithviraj Chavan suggested involving agencies like the ED to tackle the deeply rooted corruption in the education system. Chavan specifically recommended using money laundering laws to address the inefficacy of existing regulations.
One notable incident that shed light on the extent of corruption was the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Nashik's operation, which led to the arrest of an education officer, Sunita Dhanagar. She was caught red-handed accepting a bribe of Rs 55,000 from a suspended school principal seeking reinstatement. The subsequent search by ACB resulted in the seizure of significant assets, including Rs 83 lakh in cash, 320 grams of gold, and documents for three properties in Nashik.
The issue of corruption in the education department was raised in the Lower House by NCP's legislator Rohit Pawar, who expressed his concern about the impact on families who cannot afford private schools and rely on government schools for their children's education.
State Education Commissioner Suresh Mandhare had earlier requested the ACB to take action against 40 officials involved in bribery over the past three years, with chargesheets filed in 33 of these cases. However, Fadnavis pointed out that suspended officials must be reinstated within nine months according to the law, and their only available role would be as education officers, which poses a challenge in dealing with the issue effectively.
In light of Chavan's recommendations, Fadnavis stated that this would be the first case where the ED's involvement would be sought for investigation. The proposed use of money laundering laws aims to bring stricter and more effective punishment for corruption within the education department.
Moreover, during discussions on education, the Home Minister mentioned that the government is contemplating centralizing the hiring process for aided private schools to root out corruption in the system. He also highlighted the issue of declining student attendance due to the prevalence of coaching classes and revealed plans to address this by instructing government-aided schools on managing attendance. Once Aadhaar registration of all students is completed, the state government would have an accurate count of students, aiding in better governance of the education sector.