Taking up cudgels on their behalf, Sunil Ahir, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) corporator, is pushing for the mention of caste on birth certificates that are issued by the corporation.
Ahir, who belongs to the NT category himself, has placed a proposal before the city’s mayor requesting that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) incorporate caste as well as religion along with the relevant category of reservation for new birth certificates. He has also requested that the same be mentioned in death certificates.
At present, every individual who belongs to a category that is privy to reservation has to collect his or her caste certificate from the collector’s office. This is often a time-consuming and tedious process. The red-tapism involved has also spawned a breed of agents, who ‘get the work done’ speedily for desperate clients who are willing to pay them exorbitant amounts. A BMC employee confirmed this development, saying, “I had to pay Rs 1,000 to get my caste certificate as I had to submit it for promotion at work.”
The proposal is likely to come up for discussion before the civic body’s general body meeting in the first week of November. Ahir learnt about the delays involved in obtaining these certificates the hard way. “I had to run around a lot for my own documents and was even asked to show my father’s caste documents. I was fed up with all the queries. This is why I made this proposal, as it would provide relief to lakhs of people who suffer similarly,” said Ahir.
He added, “At present there is no substitute for the caste certificate. Since the BMC issues both birth and death certificates, I urged the body to accept my proposal and send it to the state government for further discussion and implementation. This is not my personal problem but every person who belongs to the reserved category has to face it.
I hope that members of the next generation don’t have to suffer in this way.” Ahir is younger brother of Minister of State Sachin Ahir, who presides over the Social Justice department, to which the proposal is likely to be forwarded if it is cleared by the BMC. When asked about his brother’s involvement, Ahir said, “I have not yet discussed the matter with my brother, but I will convince him.” Commenting on the issue, Sachin Ahir said, “It’s a good suggestion, and we will consider it once it is cleared by the BMC. We will hold a meeting and think of ways to implement it.”
“The proposal has not yet been received. We can comment only after it reaches us,” said a senior civic official on condition of anonymity. He added that the proposal would require clearance by the Central government in order to be implemented.
At present, caste certificate has to be submitted for college admissions, government jobs, and promotion. Those wishing to contest civic body elections, assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections also have to show proof of caste