There has been an increasing number of incidents where Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees of Public Sector Units (PSUs) are being victimised in the name of verification of caste certificates, and are facing undue delays in the same, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes noted in a report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
While prescribing a slew of measures to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to sensitise State government machineries to streamline the process of caste certificate verification, the committee also called for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to bring legislation to “curb the menace of false caste certificates” in consultation with the DoPT, Law Ministry and State governments.
Last minute verification
The Standing Committee, chaired by BJP MP Kirit Premjibhai Solanki expressed dismay over delays in the verification of caste certificates of SC and ST employees. In its last report, it had noted that the verification exercise is being held off till the last moment, and in some cases, till the moment an employee is close to retirement. This was becoming a “modus-operandi” for concerned organisations and PSUs to harass SC/ST employees, it said.
In its latest report, the panel said that pension benefits and emoluments of SC/ST employees should not become the subject matter of harassment or victimisation.
“The Committee are of the clear view that on initial appointment, proper and in-depth verification/inquiry (of caste certificates) be made within six months of appointment. It may not be lingered up till superannuation unless and until there is prima facie cogent reason to verify caste certificate and in any case the pensionary and other benefits should not be withheld,” it said.
‘Delay is offence’
The committee also took on record the government’s response that it has from time to time reiterated instructions on timely verification of caste certificates to State and UT governments. But it noted that “this is not enough”. It said that pension of employees appointed 1995 should not be withheld “even if their caste certificates have not been verified or there is delay in verification of caste certificates”.
It added that each and every case of delay in verification of caste certificate should be treated as an offence and responsibility should be fixed for it, further suggesting that the DoPT once again instruct State and UT governments on verifying caste certificates within six months of appointment.
“The Committee also reiterate that the Limitation Act must also be made applicable to State Caste Scrutiny Committee in every State to contain long period to verify caste certificate and avoid relentless stress or to live in fear and experience of traumatic events that may occur after retirement of the concerned employee,” it concluded.