PANJIM: St Cruz panch Lawrence Rodrigues, charged by the police with allegedly forging bona fide certificate to obtain OBC certificate, has been granted relief by the Social Welfare Department that has validated his provisional caste certificate.
The department was hearing a complaint by Ganesh Chodankar and Inacio Pereira alleging that Rodrigues had fraudulently obtained the certificate to contest elections from a reserved ward. Based on the police report, a committee of the Social Welfare Department initiated proceedings for further inquiry since October 2017. While the committee, in its interim order had referred the matter back to the Vigilance Cell and deputy collector for obtaining fresh report after evidence did not support the case of the panch, subsequent hearing showed that deputy collector Ponda and South Goa police’s reports ‘categorically substantiated the case as Christian Render Community’.
A fresh inquiry was subsequently conducted wherein the complainants alleged that Rodrigues’ father had not registered as toddy tapper and as such he is not entitled to claim the OBC status. The panch argued that the Excise Act came into existence in 1964 while his father was engaged in the activity prior to that period which cannot deprive him the social status.
On hearing both the parties, the committee observed that not registering with the Excise Department does not deprive Rodrigues of his original caste status. “Hence great injustice would be meted out to the respondent if the committee does not acknowledge the facts which are sufficient enough to endorse the caste of the respondent (Rodrigues). There is no dispute that the family is of Goan origin and hence the concept of migration to Goa prior to 1968 is not relevant in the instant case. The report of the Vigilance Cell as well as the report of deputy collector, Ponda are also in favour of the respondent. The committee validate the provisional caste certificate issued to him,” it further stated.
The order by members S V Naik, Jayant Tari and W V R Murthy ordered that the social status ‘Christian Render’ issued by the office of deputy collector Tiswadi is verified and established.