Discrepancy in disbursal of scholarships to Minorities in Maharashtra

The issue of scholarship for minorities still echoes in the corridor of Bombay High Court and State Ministry for Minority Affairs in Maharashtra as the former directed the later to explain why around 4 lakh students from religious minorities were prevented from being availing the scholarships in 2015-16.

Following the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Latur corporator and activist Razaullah Khan, the Bombay High Court, Aurangabad bench, comprising Justice RM Borde and Justice Sangitrao Patil has issued notices to the union and state ministries for Minority Affairs to explain and render their responses in four weeks as to why at least 4 lakh students from religious minorities entitled for pre-matric scholarships were left out in 2015-16.

The PIL petition came after a Right to Information (RTI) plea showed that Maharashtra had received only 3,30,776 applications for 2015-16, even as 7,17,896 students were eligible for renewal going by the previous year’s numbers. The RTI response from the Minority and Adult Education Department (MAE), in September, showed that more than 53 percent had not applied for renewal. However, MAE Director Nandan Nangare said that number was less because fewer students had applied, but Khan contended that students had not been registered because of the failure of the application process.

Why fewer students applied?

Earlier, the application process was online and the students had to enter their details into the National Scholarship Portal. However, owing to limited internet accessibility in rural areas, the process was made available offline last year. The state’s plan to make the process offline was supposed to benefit students as the details could now be filled in excel sheets at the school.

While the decision may had been taken in good taste, the outcome is certainly not what the department wanted. For now, the High Court is waiting for the explanation from Ministry in four weeks.

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