Private engineering colleges could face tax investigation for accepting advance fee in demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, and derecognition if found guilty. The government’s crackdown follows information from intelligence agencies that several institutes were taking scrapped notes for student fee in advance, triggering suspicion that many people are taking this route to legalise their unaccounted-for cash, a source said. The human resource development (HRD) ministry has asked the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the regulator that grants approvals to engineering institutes, to investigate. The income tax department will be alerted too.
The AICTE rules don’t allow institutes to collect advance fee. The regulator decided at a meeting recently that action would be taken against any institute, including penal action such as derecognition, if found guilty. There are close to 3,000 private engineering institutes in the country offering diploma, BTech, MTech and allied courses. Fee in such colleges ranges between Rs 1 and Rs 2 lakh a year. A source said income tax authorities will step in to initiate action against violators. “It is a clear case of collusion between the person offering to give advance fee and the institute accepting the money. Income tax officials will check their accounts.” The regulator is planning to open a complaint cell page on its website for people to report such cases. The Narendra Modi government’s shock decision in November to recall the two high-value notes has prompted tax dodgers to look for channels in which the old bills could be given legal validity. Tax sleuths and law-enforcement agencies were conducting regular checks to prevent such activities. The HRD ministry is promoting cashless transactions in all institutes, including IITs and NITs, in line with the government’s demonetisation move. – Courtesy