Meghala Kumari is a software engineer working in Chennai. But this is not what her life was always like. As a child in a poor family, she had to work part time to support her education even as a minor. All through her early years, she was completely ignorant about anything called a community certificate, a document that could have made things easy for her.
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“If I had my community certificate, I could have availed the concession in the annual fees, besides getting other benefits such as free school bag and uniform,” says Meghala, who got the certificate only during her graduation days.
There are thousands of citizens like Meghala, who are unaware of the advantages of the community certificate. Community or caste certificate is an important document that helps the citizens belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and other backward castes (OBC) avail the facilities meant for them. It is necessary proof that helps students belonging to these communities access the reserved posts and services under the state and central government.
“Through community certificate, a lot of education and employment benefits can be accessed by SC, ST and other backward castes. SC and ST students need not pay fees for any government examinations (such as UPSC) if they show their community certificate. SC/ST students can get application forms in all government colleges for free, with the certificate. Based on the certificate, the state government also gives an annual fund to the SC and ST students ranging from Rs 3000 to Rs 5000 based on their financial status,” said V Raghuram, a social worker, who is helping tribals on the outskirts of Chennai to get community certificates.
However, as we spoke to a large number of deserving citizens, we found that many of them were unaware of the actual procedure to procure a community certificate. If you are looking to get a community certificate in Chennai and wondering how to go about it, here is quick a explainer taking you through the important steps.
What are the eligibility criteria to apply for a community certificate in Tamil Nadu?
The applicant should be a resident of Tamil Nadu, having completed three years of age. He or she should belong to reserved category such as Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, OBC or MBC.
What is the procedure to apply for a community certificate?
The certificate can be applied online. One can visit the Common Service Centres (CSCs) or e-service centres to apply online. (Check out the nearest CSC near you by clicking here.) A message will be sent to the registered mobile number once the certificate is ready. It can be downloaded at the CSC.
A number of private browsing centres also help citizens apply for community certificate. However, they charge you anywhere between Rs 250 to Rs 400.
If you want to apply offline, visit the Tahsildar office and furnish photocopies of required documents. The Tahsildar or Deputy Tahsildar will issue the certificate after verifying the necessary documents.
What are the necessary documents required for the application process?
For online application, a letter from the Village Administrative Officer (VAO) has to be submitted at the CSC. You can get the sealed letter from the VAO by submitting the ration card and Aadhaar card.
A sum of Rs 60 should be paid as application fee for the certificate.
In addition, you will need:
- Community certificate of parents (most importantly the father’s).
- Identity proof of parents
- Proof of address (Aadhaar card and ration card)
- Proof of age (Birth certificate or class 10 certificate)
- Filled application form
If the applicant is a minor, it is necessary to submit an affidavit stating the applicant’s name, father’s name, address and the community.
How do I apply if I don’t have my parents’ community certificate?
Your father’s community certificate is very important. If it is not there, you may submit the community certificate of your father’s siblings or first cousins. Only STs are given the certificate subject to procedure, even when the applicant possesses no proof.
I belong to a Scheduled Tribe and am applying for the certificate for the first time. My parents and other relatives do not have a community certificate? Can I get one?
You should visit the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) in the Taluk Office close to your address. He will assess the credentials and claims of the applicant: place of stay, occupation, food habits and the like by visiting the settlements.
Once the RDO declares the person to be a tribe and informs the same to the Tahsildar, Deputy Tahsildar, Revenue Inspector and the Village Administrative Officer (VAO), the VAO will visit the settlement to verify address and issue a document stating that the applicant is a resident of the colony for the particular period of time. The Revenue Inspector will also pay a visit to the place of stay. After these visits, the B2 Section in the Taluk office, that issues community certificate for STs, will send the inspection reports to the Tahsildar, who pays a final visit to the settlement.
Eventually, the RDO issues the certificate after scrutinising the inspection reports. Many bonded labourers with no proof have been given a community certificate in this manner.
If the VAO is non-cooperative, what do I do?
You can contact the esevai number – 18004251333, to lodge complaints. You can also file a written complaint to the Tahsildar or the Revenue Divisional Officer.
How long does it take to receive the certificate?
It should ideally reach the applicant within fifteen days. For a Scheduled tribe, the maximum time period is 30 days. The certificate is valid for life.
How can I make corrections in my community certificate?
Visit the Taluk office with the supporting documents. A letter from the VAO confirming the address of the applicant is required, if the corrections are to be made at the E sevai centres or CSCs. The time required to get a corrected certificate varies from three days to a week.