Tuesday, January 10, 2012

[ZESTCaste] OBCs miss poll bus over checking of caste certificate


OBCs miss poll bus over checking of caste certificate
Published: Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012, 8:00 IST
By Manoj R Nair | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

With municipal elections scheduled in February, many aspirants who
want to contest from wards reserved for backward class candidates will
not be able to do so as the state government is no longer validating
caste certificates.

Candidates who wish to contest from reserved wards have to get their
caste certificates validated again by the district collector.

Initially, November 15, 2011, was the last day when candidates could
submit applications to get their certificates verified. The date was
later extended up to November 21.

While the purpose of this procedure is to ensure that candidates do
not submit false caste certificates, many alleged that it was a ploy
by parties to keep away independent contestants.

Kurla resident Rosita D'Souza was planning to contest from ward 157
which is reserved for an Other Backward Class (OBC) woman candidate.
D'Souza belongs to the East Indian community which was declared as an
OBC group in 2006. She applied for a caste certificate in September
2011 and got it in December.

But, she cannot contest the polls as her caste certificate is not
validated. "We got the certificate after a thorough investigation
process. I got my grandfather's school-leaving certificate from the
1930s which mentions East Indian. When the document was issued after
such scrutiny, where is the need for the certificate to be validated
again?" asked her son Justin.

He added that the ward was declared as reserved for OBC woman only on
August 8. "We did not get enough time to get a caste certificate and a
validity certificate," said Justin, who has filed a complaint with the
district collector.

Godfrey Pimenta, an advocate, who was planning to contest from ward
141 in Chembur which is reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates, too
will not be able to file his nomination as his caste certificate is
not validated.

Pimenta said the Verification Act, 2000, does not say that caste
certificates can be validated only during a particular period. "The
process of issuing validity certificates is a continuous one; how can
you fix a deadline for it?"

But, a senior official in the department of social justice said they
had issued a circular that the validation will be done in September
and October.

"We had asked candidates to submit forms till November 21. Validation
of caste certificates is done only during four months before
elections. We have to verify and check the applications; it cannot be
done after elections have been declared. It was the responsibility of
the candidates to file their applications on time."


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