Various private universities have come under the scanner of the central revenue department for alleged service tax evasion worth several crores.

The Directorate-General of Central Excise Intelligence and the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau have started a probe into the matter, official sources said.

The officials suspect that various private educational institutions are flouting norms set by the University Grants Commission and other Government agencies for running their campuses in various States across the country and some abroad.

Under clause 3.3 of the UGC regulation, a private university established under a State Act should operate ordinarily within the boundary of the State concerned.

However, after the development of a main campus, in exceptional circumstances, the university may be permitted to open off-campus centres, off-shore campuses and study centres after five years of its coming into existence, inter alia subject to the condition that the off-campus centre would be set up with the prior approval of the UGC and that of the State Government where the centre is proposed to be opened.

However, it has been notices that many universities were opening centres in many other parts of the country and abroad, they said.

Sources said the central revenue department officials have carried out a field survey and initiated a probe.

“It is suspected that private universities are allegedly unauthorisedly operating in many States and in some cases abroad by flouting Government norms. We are coordinating with the UGC in the matter,” a senior official associated with the probe said.

The legal provisions regarding service tax on educational institutions stipulates that any institute or establishment which issues any certificate or diploma or degree or any educational qualification recognised by law is not required to pay service tax.

However, off-campus study centres, not affiliated to the UGC, attract service tax of 12.36 per cent on their total income.