In what could be a potential security threat, 20,000 pre-printed (blank) birth/death certificates have been stolen from one of the offices of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
The incident has sent the corporation in a tizzy and officials are worried that the certificates may be misused.
Birth and death certificates are important documents. Apart from helping the government to keep a tab on population, they are used to obtain passports, get admission in schools and colleges and to avail benefits of government schemes, etc.
Sources said the corporation is worried that the anti-social elements or terror outfits may use the certificates to get bonafide identification papers.
“These can be used to obtain identity documents or carrying out frauds, money laundering or even implicate someone else through impersonation,” said a high ranking official.
The official said since the documents are blank they can be filled up and easily forged with a signature and a stamp. He said they would be difficult to trace.
“Since the certificates will have genuine sheets used by the municipal corporation, it would be difficult to check if they are original or forged unless somebody verifies them with the civic body. At the same time, the genuine sheets make it easier to forge since all you need is a signature and a stamp,” the official said.
Officials said the incident came to light on May 5, 2016 when the sub-registrar of Karol Bagh zone reached his office and found 10 boxes full of blank birth and death certificates missing.
“Each of the 10 missing boxes had 2000 pre-registered certificates which means that potentially we are looking at 20,000 forgery cases,” said a high ranking official.
Officials said the corporation has registered an FIR and flagged the serial numbers of the certificate to ensure they are not misused.
“Currently we have issued letters to the passport offices, revenue department, Delhi government and electoral offices asking them to carefully tally the serial number before issuing any new document. We have also suggested to constitute a committee to ensure safety of such important papers in the future,” said a senior official.
The East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) too had reported a similar incident in November last year, when its website was hacked and 76 birth/death certificates were issued.
The hacking that put to risk important information of more than 1.8 crore residents of the national capital. Apart from handling, birth and death certificates, the corporation also keeps a record of property tax, land records and other crucial information.