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MUMBAI: Nearly seven months after a Supreme Court order asking for dismissal of those who got government jobs through fake certificates, the Maharashtra government is still wrestling with the tricky issue of what to do in the matter of 11,700 employees who forged caste certificates to get employment under the Scheduled Tribes (ST) quota.
While use of fraud to secure government jobs has been known, it is the dimension of the con in Maharashtra which has come as an eyeopener to the authorities.
Besides its shocking scale, the dupery has also left the government to grapple with how to implement the SC order and still buffer itself from the wrath of the employees to be hit by what could arguably be the largest sack of government employees in one fell swoop.
Many of the beneficiaries, an overwhelming majority of them posing as tribals, have worked as government employees for more than two decades.
Recruited as clerks, many of them have now risen to the position of deputy secretary in the state government. Fears that they might lose these secured positions have prompted many to rally politicians and unions to take up their cause.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court had ruled that anyone found guilty of using a forged caste certificate to get admission into educational institutes or for a job will lose their degree and job. In addition, the apex court had directed punitive action against them irrespective of their tenure of service.
‘Law dept, AG think there’s no way to protect Maha employees’
While the order is unequivocal, the state government, wary of being held responsible for the sack of a huge chunk of its employees, has been treading cautiously on the matter. It has sought opinion from the law and judiciary department and the advocate general (AG).
The consultations have, however, failed to provide succour with the AG as well as the law and judiciary department unanimously holding that the SC order was unambiguous about dismissal being the punishment for beneficiaries of the fraud.
Subsequently, a meeting was held at the state secretariat on January 20. Chief secretary Sumit Mullick, who chaired the meeting, told TOI the government would follow the SC order.