Dalits, Bogus Tribals?
Whither Affirmative Action
By Subhash Gatade
31 March, 2006
[It has been more than fifty-five years that the makers of the constitution
decided to implement the policy of ‘positive discrimination’
vis-a-vis those section of Indian society which were ‘socially
oppressed’. It is clear that the entrenched caste interests in
the Indian society have never taken kindly to these provisions. They
have tried to scuttle its implementation at various levels. While one
is aware of the non filling of seats meant for them in various institutions
of education and other employement opportunities, the filling of such
seats with fake dalits or bogus tribals is a phenomenon which has rarely
received the attention it deserves. ]
a recent judgement the Supreme Court brought the nation’s attention
to the dereliction of constitutional duty in issuing SC and ST certificates
without verifying that the applicant has suffered disabilities socially,
economically and educationally. Delineating the impact of this approach
leading us to a situation where reserved posts go into the hands of
non-deserving candidates it emphatically stated that this results in
‘violation of the mandate of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.’
The bench of Mr. Justice
H. K. Sema and Mr. Justice Dr A. R. Lakshmanan was deliberating on a
plea by one Anjan Kumar for granting him Scheduled Tribe status for
being born of a tribal woman married to a nontribal husband. The honourable
court dismissed the said appeal on the grounds that such an offshoot
is brought up in an atmosphere of Forward Class and is not subjected
to any disability. (The Excelsior, Jammu, February 16, 2006)
Ofcourse it is not for the
first time that the phenomenon of bogus/fake caste certificates for
getting admission / appointment has bee brought before the judiciary.
In fact, last year quite a few high profile cases involving senior police
officers or elected representatives of the people came up before different
A Senior Superintendent of
Police from the Haryana cadre belonging to Rajput caste was convicted
after a prolonged legal battle for submitting a fake SC certificate.
In another case the Allahabad high court issued a show cause notice
to Mr Majhi, a MP owning allegiance to Samajwadi Party, to verify his
‘scheduled caste identity’. The courts had to take this
extraordinary step since there were allegations that Mr. Majhi belonging
to backward caste had got himself elected from a reserved seat by attaching
a false caste certificate. (The Hindu, 27 th October 2005).
Another member of parliament, Mr Munshi Pal belonging to Rashtriya Lok
Dal was grilled by the Chairman of the National Commission on SC. This
was sequel to filing of complaints against Mr. Pal from his people from
his own constituency. In their complaint they had presented documentary
proof informing that while selling land Mr. Pal had given an affidavit
that he belonged to backward caste and at the timing of filing his nomination
he presented a certificate that he belonged to the 'scheduled category'.
(‘Panel to Probe MP ‘Posing’ as Dalit for Elections’,
The Indian Express, July 21, 2005).
We were also witness to the
investigations done by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into
the status of employees working in different ministries of the central
and state government. And the departments covered included DDA (Delhi
Development Authority), NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council) and similar
public sector undertakings (Hindustan 17 th June 2005). The results
of the investigation were shocking. It revealed that about 30 per cent
of the employees in different departments of Delhi government who have
got jobs on the basis of being belonging to scheduled tribes have submitted
false certificates for the same.
Question naturally arises
about the modus operandi through which people procure fake caste certificates.
Apart from bribing the different authorities at various levels, a widely
used method is benefiting from similarity in caste nomenclature. To
take an example, Orissa government has categorised 62 castes under the
ST category, which also covers a caste ‘Kondadora’. These
people have still remained educationally and otherwise backward despite
around sixty years of independence. Their total population also does
not exceed around 14,000. Surprisingly one comes across many people
working at important positions in the state bureaucracy belonging to
the same ‘Kondadora’ caste. Ofcourse it is not difficult
to understand this puzzle. A major chunk of the certified ‘Kondadoras’
happened to be part of the landowning Dora caste who managed to get
a fraudulent certificates.
The ‘widespread incidence’
of false certificates prompted the National Commission on Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes (since separated) to carry out pilot studies
in several states. The Third Report of the ‘National Commission
for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes’, (1994-95 & 1995-96
P. 192) tells us about the outcome of the process. A random check of
twelve central government organisations in Tamil Nadu found 338 holders
of fraudulent ST certificates. The Commission was successful in dismissing
only six of them after ‘enormous delay. In fact nearly a quarter
of the individuals thwarted removal by getting stay orders from cooperative
Report after report one notices the National Commission of Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes’(since separated) grappling with this
problem. To underline the gravity of the situation the Commission’s
report in 1998 and its previous report, separate chapters were devoted
to it. It has repeatedly called on the government to crack down on fraudulent
certifications and had made detailed proposals for corrective measures,
but none have been forthcoming. The fact is that few in the government
really care. The Commission’s 1998 report had rather provided
a final word:
• . . . certificates
have been issued to ineligible persons, carelessly or deliberately.
. . This has resulted in wrong persons availing of the benefits meant
for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on a false pretext.
• . . .the menace of
false caste certificates is on the increase. . .
• A considerable number
of seats in the educational institutions are also secured by these wrong
• . . .there have been
instances of persons being elected to elective offices on the strength
of false Community Certificates.
Question naturally arises
what can be done to rectify the situation and put brakes on one of the
biggest ongoing scams in post independent India.
It need be noted that it
is a considered observation of activists as well as experts that since
the policy of reservation is based on executive instructions, it excludes
the possibility of penal provisions even if officials are found to violate
it. And looking at the predominance of Varna mindset even among the
bureaucracy one can envisage how it might be devising ways and means
to byepass its implementation. It is then high time that efforts are
made so that the reservation system is given an administrative face-lift.
To curb abuse of the scheme of positive discrimination revision and
streamlining of procedures is a must. As suggested by the commission
time and again, we need a comprehensive act, which would articulate
the policy and which can be included in the ninth schedule of the constitution
so that unnecessary intervention by the judiciary could also be curbed.