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The Swami Vivekanand College of Distance Education at Mira Road and its offices in Andheri, Dadar and Thane were shut down on Tuesday, following last week's police raid.

The Thane rural crime branch had busted a huge fake certificates racket run by the college, which was managed by Swami Vivekanand Education Society, and arrested their principal Vinay Kumar and manger Manish Ghadbande from their Mira Road head office.

Reportedly, the college provided an entrance test mark sheet of Bachelor of Preparatory programme to one Rahul Vaid within seven days without appearing for the exam. Investigation revealed that the college provided such bogus certificates for all the classes and courses.

Thousands of students are enrolled with the college at present. While the cops have not yet sealed the college, they would soon be doing so after their investigation at the Vinayaka Mission University at Salem in Tamil Nadu is complete. The accused have claimed to be associated with this Tamil Nadu University.

A second year management studies student said, "I don't know if the certificates are fake. I will have to switch to some other college now." The college, which claims to have lakhs of students, has been operating since 1999 with branches in Dadar, Andheri, Mira Road, Vasai and Pune. The college claims to be affiliated to Vinayaka Mission University in Salem, Tamil Nadu, and is approved by UGC, DEC, AIU and IGNOU. During investigations, the accused claim to have sought franchise from the Tamil Nadu University to conduct classes and tests at their branches. However, it was found that all certificates provided by them were fake.

The Thane rural crime branch first learnt that a call centre employee had been rejected for a job as the certificate he obtained from this college was found to be fake. They then used two dummies, Rahul Vaid who turned complainant, and one Teriya Swami Devendra, to bust the racket. Seeking an entrance test certificate, one of dummies took admission on May 30 and was provided with the certificate by the college on June 7 on payment of Rs 12,500. AThe cops then raided the college office and found thousands of fake certificates, blank result sheets and fake stamps College shuts over fake certificate scam.


The duplicate certificates on display at the office of the Commissioner of Police in the city on Sunday | R Satish Babu

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CHENNAI: Busting a fake certificate 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.


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