The Assembly on Friday passed the West Bengal Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Identification) (Amendment) Bill, 2022, to enable SC/ST people to appeal against cancellation of caste certificates.
Bulu Chik Baraik, minister of state (independent charge) of backward classes welfare and tribal development, said the SC and the ST populace had no option so far to appeal in case their certificates got cancelled.
“Now, they can appeal to the district magistrates or an ADM to be designated for this purpose in case they feel that their certificates were cancelled without a valid reason. In the case of Calcutta, the SC/ST populace can appeal to the divisional commissioner of Presidency Range,” said the minister.
Sources said the state government had brought the bill to the House after grievances were growing among the SC/ST populace in the Jungle Mahal districts after several certificates had been cancelled in the past one year or so.In the past two years, subdivisional officers were under tremendous pressure to issue caste certificates. Soon after, complaints started pouring in that many secured caste certificates without producing proper documents.
“Officials were compelled to cancel several certificates after complaints started pouring in when the state launched the Lakshmir Bhandar scheme in which SC and ST families receive Rs 1,000 a month while the general category women get Rs 500 a month. The cancellation of the certificates had created troubles for many poor people,” said a source.
The state government had to initiate a step to ensure that those whose certificates were being cancelled could get to know the reason behind the decision of the authorities.
“As soon as the Bill gets the governor’s assent and becomes an Act, the authorities will be bound to show the reason why a caste certificate has been cancelled within a period of three months,” said another official.
The step, officials said, is significant as it could redress the grievances of tribal populace mainly in the Jungle Mahal who hold the key to electoral success. “The ruling establishment is very sensitive about the Jungle Mahal. The move will help redress the grievances of SC/ST populace in the Jungle Mahal as well as other parts of the state ahead of rural polls,” said an official.