The Parliamentary Committee on the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes recently recommended crucial actions to address concerns about false caste certificates. They urged the Central government to consider introducing legislation to make the use of fake caste certificates punishable and to establish a time limit for verifying caste certificates.
The Committee’s report, titled ‘Implementation of reservation policy under the ministries and different departments related to the verification of caste certificate,’ highlighted the need for action. It explained that the Committee initiated this inquiry after receiving numerous complaints and representations. These complaints included instances where public sector undertakings withheld retirement benefits due to delays in submitting caste certificates.
The report stressed the importance of a system for timely verification of caste certificates once a person is employed. Such a system would prevent individuals from gaining employment through fraudulent means. The Committee emphasized the need for a time-bound verification process to avoid causing mental and financial distress to employees who have served for decades.
During the hearings, the Committee uncovered cases where retired employees faced hardships due to delays or non-submission of caste certificates. In some instances, gratuity or pension benefits were withheld, causing significant financial difficulties. The Committee identified state-level scrutiny committees as contributors to delays in processing cases. They recommended clear guidelines for caste certificate verification to be followed by all state governments and scrutiny committees.
Additionally, the report highlighted discrepancies regarding the withholding of retirement benefits. The Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare guidelines do not authorize the withholding of retirement benefits pending caste certificate verification. This clarification is essential to ensure retired employees receive their entitled benefits without unnecessary delays or hurdles.
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