The Central Information Commission has ordered inquiry into “gross irregularities” in issuance of fake birth certificates by North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) after 49 forged certificates came to light.
Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad noted in his order that practices and procedures devoid of transparency end up being a “breeding ground” for malpractices of fraudulence, manipulation and corruption.
“Upon perusal of the aforementioned facts and submissions of the case, gross irregularities have surfaced in this case, showcasing over 49 fake birth certificates has come as a shocking revelation.
“It is appalling that such a heinous crime is being committed in an unbridled manner, right in the capital where maximum legal checks and safeguards are expected to be in place for smooth governance and providing best of civic amenities to the citizens,” Azad said in his order.
The Commissioner, a former IPS officer, found that the birth certificates were issued by the NDMC merely on the basis of hard copies of certain orders purportedly issued by the SDM office, and for all the 47 birth certificates issued, there is no corresponding soft copy of the same SDM orders available online on the Delhi Government website
“As is evident from the facts of the case at hand, 49 fake birth certificates indicate that the procedures were twisted and rules/policies and laws violated for creating fabricated documents.These forged documents, 49 in all, which have been dealt with in this case, were created without any cross linking or cross referencing,” he said.
Azad said the RTI Act was enacted to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority in order to strengthen the core constitutional values of a democratic republic–keeping in mind rights of an informed citizenry in which transparency of information is vital in curbing corruption and making the Government and its instrumentalities accountable.
“Practices and procedures devoid of transparency end up being a breeding ground for malpractices of fraudulence, manipulation and corruption.
“Democracy, therefore, demands openness which is a concomitant of a transparent system of governance, disinfected of the malpractices by the light of openness and transparency,” he said.
Azad said he was reminded of a press report, not so long ago, about a CBI inquiry conducted in Civil Lines Zone of MCD on account of some fake birth certificate racket.
“One cannot surmise the numbers of such forged documents already issued and the amount of harm it is causing to the entire system at large. This menace of forgery and corruption can be tackled only by making all such documents open to the public and issued only after multiple levels of cross linking,” he said.
The Information Commissioner said public authorities should exercise due caution and issue hardcopy of such vital documents only after due verification and cross checking.
“The Commission directs that the 49 fake birth certificates, which have been unearthed in this case, should be rescinded.
“An inquiry should be initiated so that such acts of offence against the society at large can be investigated appropriately by an independent and capable security agency, criminality of the delinquent officer/s investigated and exemplary punishment awarded to the wrongdoers – as a deterrent in future from abuse of public office,” he said.
Lauding the efforts of RTI applicant Rajnish Kumar Dhingra, who brought this case before the Commission through persistent RTIs to NDMC, Azad said it is necessary to send the right message and to check the menace of fake certificates being issued by such an important and almost sole public agency responsible for authentication of birth/death of citizens.
“An Action Taken Report shall be submitted before the Commission within four weeks with a copy provided to the appellant, at whose behest the entire scam has come to light,” he said.