Rampant Forgery: Panchayats Told To Make Death Certificate Info Public

Rampant Forgery: Panchayats Told To Make Death Certificate Info Public

In cases where insurance companies' investigations revealed that deceased were actually alive, the panchayat secretaries excused themselves by claiming that their portal was hacked and someone used their stolen ID and password to issue death certificate.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Sunday, March 17, 2024, 10:54 PM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The Madhya Pradesh State Information Commission has mandated panchayats to make death certificate information public on their websites. Expressing concern over a racket involving the extraction of insurance claim amounts using fake death certificates, the commission issued the order to keep a check on the malpractice in the Gwalior and Chambal divisions.

Information commissioner Rahul Singh, in an order to the panchayat department, stated that it is crucial to immediately halt the panchayats' seemingly magical ability to "kill" living people on paper only to "revive" them later. The exposure of the fake death certificate racket was brought to the light when RTI applicant, advocate Deepmala Mishra, requested the list of death certificates issued and also the list of deleted certificates over the past five years from two panchayats in Bhind and Morena districts. Mishra revealed during the hearing before the commission that there is a widespread racket of issuing fake death certificates in Gwalior and Chambal divisions. This racket has led private insurance companies to blacklist Bhind and Morena districts.

According to Mishra, panchayat secretaries have been issuing death certificates in exchange for money. Once the insurance claim amount is withdrawn, the secretaries then delete the record of the death certificate issuance. Mishra informed the commission that due to a lack of concrete action against the panchayat secretaries, this racket has been going on since 2010. When information was sought from the panchayat secretaries through RTI, they failed to respond for years.

In cases where insurance companies' investigations reveal that the supposed deceased were actually alive, the panchayat secretaries excused themselves by claiming their portal was hacked and someone used their stolen ID and password to issue the death certificate. Noting that tampering with government records is a punishable offence under the IPC, the information commissioner said that upon discovering such frauds, the authorities must file FIRs and ensure action is taken against the guilty officers and employees.

Singh remarked that the absence of concrete action against the concerned panchayat secretaries and the lack of a transparent system for maintaining records of fake death certificates have enabled secretaries to issue fake certificates without fear. Finding the involvement of panchayats in the racket as alarming, Singh dubbed it as a well-organised criminal activity that requires immediate intervention.

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