The Madras High Court has said the State government should consider the feasibility of passing legislation at the earliest to provide for the issue and verification of caste certificates to persons belonging to SC/ST. This was necessary in view of the loophole in the present system and the resultant delay.

A Division Bench comprising Justices D. Murugesan and K.K. Sasidharan directed the State government to constitute vigilance committees as per the Supreme Court directions to verify the claims for caste certificates.

Disposing of a writ petition, the Bench dealt with the larger questions involved in community certificate matters because, while considering writ petitions relating to rejection of applications for issue of community certificates, cancellation of certificates issued earlier by the State scrutiny committee and the recommendation made by the RDO/Sub-Collector for the cancellation of certificates issued long back, it noticed certain common grievances.

In the present case, P. Vinoth filed a writ petition seeking the quashing of an order of the Sub-Collector, Ranipet, of June 7 this year rejecting his application for issue of a ST community certificate. The petitioner was the son of a railway employee belonging to Hindu Kattunayakan, a ST community. The school records of his grandfather, service records and the community certificate of his father and the certificates of his close relatives proved his community status.

In the counter, the Sub-Collector said the community certificate issued to the petitioner's father in December 1974 was not genuine. An examination of the birth registers of the village concerned from 1940 to 1974 showed there were no entries with regard to birth of members of the Kattunayakkan community. The Bench observed that the RDO's reasons for rejecting the documents appeared correct. The community certificates of relatives were not scrutinised. The petitioner was not in a position to prove the relationship. The only certificate relevant for deciding the matter was his father's community certificate. Earlier, community certificates were issued without making genuine efforts to ascertain the actual community status of individuals. Several undeserving people managed to get SC/ST certificates.

Very often, the RDO while sending the certificates for verification to the State-level scrutiny committee considers their genuineness independently and after forming an opinion recommended the case for cancellation of the certificates. The official had no independent authority to verify the caste certificates. The Bench did not agree with the RDO's procedure in rejecting the community certificate of the petitioner's father. The RDO should have sent it to the scrutiny committee.

Setting aside the RDO's order, the Bench remitted it to the official by directing him to send the certificate of the petitioner's father to the scrutiny panel. The RDO should dispose of the matter in eight weeks.