Mrunal Manmay Dash

The fake certificate case has been hogging the headlines for the past few days. In a new development, a few letters that were sent to the district education authorities in the last four years have surfaced and those reveal that the warning signs were ignored.

In the first letter, which was issued by the then Principal Secretary of the Education Department to all DEOs in June 2019, it was mentioned, “The department has been put to embarrassing situations often due to engagement of teachers on the basis of fake academic and training certificates. It is observed that a lot of allegations are being received from different forums relating to the submission of fake certificates by some teachers which need stringent action and calls for weeding out such unworthy teachers from the system of elementary education in the State.”

“Hence, it has been decided to take steps to identify and weed out the teachers engaged on the basis of fake certificates during the process of engagement of Sikshya Sahayaks, now re-designated as Junior Teacher(Contractual)s and during regularisation of Junior Teachers,” the Secretary wrote.

However, no action seemed to have been taken for the next two years, which prompted the Orissa High Court to intervene.

Citing displeasure expressed by the Orissa High Court, the then Principal Secretary again wrote a letter to the DEOs in August 2021.

He wrote, “The High Court has expressed serious displeasure regarding slow pace of action on FIRs in various districts. Hon'ble High Court has also directed to file an affidavit indicating the status of FIRS by August 31, 2021.”

“In view of the above, DEOs / DPCs should submit the status report of FIRs filed against teachers who have submitted fake/forged certificates. They should also submit a report on disciplinary action taken against the teachers along with the detailed list of who have been dismissed/disengaged, following due procedure,” the letter read.

Again in September 2021, the State Project Director of Samagra Siksha Abhiyan wrote another letter to all the District Project Coordinators (DPCs) asking them to verify the academic and training certificates of the Junior and Contractual Teachers of the State and directed them to submit the status report of the FIRs lodged against the fake teachers.

Now the experts are of the opinion that the fake certificate menace has been proliferating for a long time and the government had ample idea and time to curb it. So, how did the situation come to this? Had the government acted swiftly and took matters seriously, fake certificate complaints would not have cropped up during postal recruitment drive in Bolangir.

On the other hand, it is now almost 12 days that the Crime Branch team is camping in Bolangir district to probe the mega fake certificate case. Even though Bolangir Police had busted the racket and arrested 19 persons, including the prime accused Manoj Mishra, the Crime Branch is yet to crack the entire network.

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