Gang had lured candidates even through newspaper advertisements racket, the city police arrested three persons, including a PMK women’s wing functionary. The gang is believed to have sold fake degree certificates of various north Indian universities for lakhs of rupees and has at least 15 branches across the State.

The racket was busted following a complaint by the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry that the law degree certificate of a person who applied for enrolment as an advocate was fake. 

The Chennai police’s investigation trail led to K Shanmugasundari (32), who is believed to be the kingpin of the racket functioning out of Coimbatore. Shanmugasundari, who is also the vice-president of Pattali Makkal Katchi’s women wing, had herself enrolled as an advocate by submitting a fake law degree certificate to the Bar council about an year ago.

Police said more skeletons may tumble out as the Bar council has started verifying the degree certificates of the advocates.

“These are the certificates they brought with them after our summons. We have sent a team to Coimbatore. Definitely there will be more bundles of such fake certificates in their possession,” said assistant commissioner K Kannan, who led the investigations in the case, pointing to a huge bunch of certificates seized from Shanmugasundari.

Police said Shanmugasundari and her gang had lured candidates even through newspaper advertisements. “They issued adverts that claimed candidates could get their LLB degree in three months flat. No need to write exams or attend classes. Each fake certificate was sold for Rs 3.5 lakh. For engineering degrees, they charged Rs 5 lakh,” said the officer. She was functioning out of her “Hi-Mark Educational Institution” office at Gandhipuram in Coimbatore. 

Chennai police started investigating the case after Dakshinamurthy, secretary of the Bar council, lodged a complaint that the LLB certificate submitted by one Arun Kumar (36) was found fake when it cross-checked with the Bundelkhand University in Uttar Pradesh.

Upon questioning, Arun Kumar told the police that he got the certificates by paying Rs 3.5 lakh to Shanmugasundari following a newspaper advertisement.

Upon summoning, she readily appeared before the Chennai police. “She had no fear since she considered herself an advocate and assumed the police would not arrest her. On her car, she had prominently displayed the advocate symbol. We have now found that her husband Kumar had also submitted a fake LLB certificate and was trying to enroll as a member of the Bar council,” said another officer.

Along with Shanmugasundari, one V Ganesh Prabhu, who was allegedly her agent, and Arun Kumar, who had obtained a fake certificate, have also been arrested.

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