Chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi has instructed district magistrates to directly handle the issuance of SC/ST certificates wherever there are doubts or irregularities, instead of leaving the task to subdivisional officers.
The directive was given against the backdrop of complaints from various tribal outfits about the issuance of SC/ST certificates to ineligible candidates. “The chief secretary held a meeting with district magistrates and other senior officials on September 8. He instructed the DMs to take the responsibility of issuing Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) certificates. The DMs will issue or cancel the certificates,” said a senior state government official.
The SDOs used to have the sole authority in the issuance of SC/ST and the Other Backward Classes (OBC) certificates.
In August 2021, junior minister Birbaha Hansda took up with Mamata Banerjee the issue of ineligible people being categorised as those belonging to SC/STs. In a meeting, Hansda alleged that lakhs of caste certificates had
been issued to ineligible candidates across Bengal, which led to the denial of government benefits and jobs to genuine people.
The chief minister asked officials to cancel the certificates whose recipients were found ineligible.
A source in the state government said thousands of such fake certificates had been cancelled in the past two years. The government has been issuing SC/ST certificates to thousands of people at Duare Sarkar camps.
“Many tribal organisations have lodged complaintswith the administration, accusing a large number of people — even many with government jobs – of holding caste certificates while being ineligible. That is why the chief secretary asked the district magistrates to take over the responsibility,” said an official.
The maximum complaints of such fake SC/ST certificates were registered in four Jungle Mahal districts.
Hansda, the junior forest minister and a tribal leader in Jhargram, said the government had taken multiple steps since her complaint two years ago.
“The process of cancelling fake certificates hasbeen taken seriously by the government. Thousands of such certificates were cancelled in the past twoyears across the state. The involvement of the district magistrate in the matter will help reduce the malpractice. Our government has madethe process to obtain a caste certificate easier, but will not tolerate any malpractice,” she said.