Just how easy is it to get a birth certificate in the state capital, never mind it’s backdated? The short answer: very.
The problem is most of these certificates are fakes, posing serious questions about security since the document is required for obtaining passports, in legal proceedings, securing citizenship of a country etc. It is also a must for admission to a school.
In Patna, getting such a fake certificate is child’s play as this reporter found out on Monday.
All one needs to do is pay the required sum to agents active on the Patna collectorate premises. No document is needed to get this work done.
Under normal circumstances, a birth certificate is issued gratis within 21 days of birth. Beyond that, the certificate has to be obtained for a fee after due diligence is carried out by the block and corporation authorities.
On Monday, February 18, this reporter secured a birth certificate — in just about two hours — for her daughter for a sum of Rs 180 by providing fictitious details. Better still, the certificate was backdated — issued on February 16, 2013.
On Tuesday, The Telegraph went to check the authenticity of the document and discovered that it was a fake one. (See graphic)
As soon as the reporter entered the road leading to the Patna collectorate around 2.15pm on Monday, she was accosted by agents who promised to get any certificate/affidavit made.
The reporter, who did not disclose her identity, struck up a conversation with one of the agents which is being produced verbatim:
• Reporter: Birth certificate ban jaayega (Can I get a birth certificate)?
Agent: Ho jayega (It will be done)… (After a pause) Kisliye chahiye (Why do you want it)?
• Reporter: Baccha ka school mein admission karana hai (I have to get my child admitted to school)… Kitna paisa lagega (How much would it cost)?
Agent: Dhai sau de dijiyega (Pay Rs 250)
• Reporter: Bahut jyada hai (It is too much)
Agent: Thik hai, 200 de dijiyega (Ok, pay Rs 200)
• Reporter: Paune do sau se jyada nahi denge (Won’t give more than Rs 175)
Agent: Do sau de dijiye, wahi liya jata hai (Give Rs 200, that is the rate)
• Reporter: Nahi paune do sau hi lijiye (No, just take Rs 175)
Agent: Thik hai. 180 de dijiye. Panch rupiya change nahi hai (Ok, give me Rs 180. I don’t have change of Rs 5)
The agent asked the reporter to write down a few details on a piece of paper.
The information sought was the names of the child and her parents, address and the child’s date of birth. The agent did not ask for any document nor did he question the reporter when she deliberately changed the address from “Kankerbagh” to “Boring Road”. She also took some time to think while putting down the date of birth of the child but the agent remained nonchalant.
The reporter put down fictitious names of the child (Neha Singh) and the parents — Mihir Kumar and Seema Singh.
The reporter wanted to accompany the agent to get the document but she was advised against it. “Madam, those who issue the certificate would not like that,” the agent said and told the reporter to return at 4pm.
When she went back around 4.10pm, she was handed the “birth certificate”, which looks similar to the document issued by the directorate of economics and statistics under the department of planning and development but a close scrutiny exposes the differences.
The story does not end here. While waiting to get the document in hand, the reporter similarly approached many other agents who told her they could hand over the certificate in 10 minutes. The rates vary from Rs 150 to Rs 500, depending on how soon the certificate was needed and how quickly the name would be included in the register of births.
Patna district magistrate N. Saravana Kumar, whose office is a stone’s throw away from the place where the racket is thriving, expressed surprise. “This is amazing and puzzling. How can it be done so quickly and in fake names? I will ensure that people are punished. If you could show us the document, it would be better.”
Vijoy Prakash, principal secretary, planning and development, was equally foxed. “How is this possible and that too in fake names? Didn’t they ask for even a medical certificate? This is the first time I am hearing of this. I’ll get an investigation done.”