The process of appointing special executive officers (SEOs) is facing a major hurdle this year because of insufficient recommendations for women candidates. Despite a 33 per cent reservation for women, only 18 per cent of the recommendations received so far for appointment of SEOs in the district are for women.
The recommendations are made by the district guardian minister or the communication (sampark) minister. A special executive officer has the authority to attest documents at the district level. According to procedure, the District Collector’s Office asks for a list of recommended candidates for appointment as SEOs. Santosh Aangare, an office-bearer in the Law and Order Cell at the Collector’s Office, said this year there was a need to appoint 12,841 SEOs, of which 4,238 would have to be women to comply with the 33 per cent reservation. He said only 2,311 recommendations for women candidates had been received.
“We have been repetitively seeking recommendations for women for this post but it seems that state government as well as other institutions which recommend candidates are least interested in appointing women SEOs,” Aangare said. Aangare said 7,899 candidates had already been appointed and the process to appoint 711 more was already underway. After these 711 appointments are done, the remaining will have to be women. The problem now is that there are only about half the number of recommendations for women than required.
While a Government Resolution (GR) was issued in 2007 regarding the appointment of SEOs, the 33 per cent reservation for women was introduced in 2009. The ratio for selection of SEOs for each district is fixed at two SEOs for a population of 1,000. These officers are appointed for duration of five years.
After the Collector’s Office receives a list of recommended candidates, the list is then forwarded to the police for verification. Once the verification is concluded, the state government approves the candidates and the gazette is published.
While the SEOs are to be selected from among social workers, NGO volunteers, meritorious labourers and political workers, Aangare said that in the list the Collector’s Office had received through the minister most of the recommended women candidates had a political background.
Social activist Vijay Kumbhar said the practice of appointing people with political backgrounds had eroded the importance of the office. “The post was created to serve society, but it has been used to keep those political workers happy who don’t get any other political position,” Kumbhar said.