North Gazette News/ Shimla
Expressing concern over the inflexible or rigid interpretation of conditions for procuring certificates for different categories from the Government offices, the High Court of H.P. has framed comprehensive guidelines to abridge the lacunae in the rules and to simplify the process. The Court observed that people suffer unnecessarily, many times due to wrong or delayed interpretation of the existing provisions. While some people are vigilant enough to knock the doors of the Courts for relief, its the innocent and poor people who suffer most as they cannot afford to come to Court either due to poverty, illness, ignorance of law, illiteracy or other reasons.
The Division Bench comprising Justice Sureshwar Thakur and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia directed the State Government to issue appropriate directions to all concerned authorities for issuance of bonafide Himachali, SC/ST/OBC category, BPL/APL/Economically Weaker Sections of the Society and Disability certificates in light of the present judgement.
The Court passed these directions while disposing of a writ petition filed by one Shri Ashwani Kumar, who has alleged that his applications for issuing bonafide Himachali certificates in favour of his sons were rejected, despite the fact that he is continuously residing in the State since his birth as his father was an employee of the State Electricity Board. The government contended that the applications were rejected as the same were received with Adhaar Card and copy of family register only and certificate of concerned Pradhan of Gram Panchayat or local authority was not attached with the applications. Also the petitioners did not bother to make appeal, within 30 days, before the concerned Sub Divisional Officer (Civil).
The Court observed that though bonafide Himachali Certificates were issued in favour of the petitioners during pendency of the petition, however, being a matter of larger public interest, Court cannot shut its eyes to the apathy of law, which leads common people to run from pillar to post for issuance of certificates. The Court further observed that being a welfare State, the government is accountable for the individual and social welfare of its citizens.
The Court further observed that for obtaining bonafide certificate, the condition of a person continuously residing in the territory of Himachal Pradesh for the last 20 years or above is already existing, but is being rigidly interpreted by the authorities. It is depriving people from being issued bonafide certificate required for sundry usage as there may be many persons who do not have any revenue record in their names but are born in the State or residing in the State for the last 20 years or more.
The Court directed that for issuance of bonafide Himachali Certificate, any one of the documents viz Ration card; Employment certificate/identity card issued by Government Offices, Birth certificate Attested copy of Pariwar (Family) Register, Adhaar Card/Voter ID card, Revenue record(s), Kisaan pass book, Certificate(s) issued by the M.P., MLA, Class I Gazetted Officers of the State, Panchayat Pradhan, Municipal Councillor, Mayor, President Notified Area Committee, stating that the applicant is residing in Himachal Pradesh uninterruptedly/continuously for the last 20 years or more will be a strong and undeniable basis for issuing concerned certificate to an individual.
Expanding the purview of the petition, the Court ordered that even for issuance of various other certificates, viz. SC/ST/OBC category, Below or above poverty line certificates, any one of the above documents would be sufficient stating the caste/tribe/income of the applicant.
For issuing Certificates for Economically Weaker Sections, Certificate(s) issued by the Pradhan/Secretary/Member of Gram Panchayat; Secretary/Member of the Notified Area Committee, Mayor/President/Member of the Municipal Committee/Corporation or Patwari of the concerned area will be a proof of the fact that the applicant belongs to weaker Section of the Society.
For issuing disability Certificates, the Court observed that Certificate(s) issued by Medical Officer of a Dispensary/Medical Board, in accordance with the guidelines in vogue, will be a proof of the fact that the applicant is physically challenged person.
The Court clarified that the aforesaid conditions are in addition to the existing conditions and not in derogation to the instructions issued by the State Government from time to time.