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Explained: What is Maharashtra’s two-child norm for government employees?

What is the 'two children' service rule for Maharashtra government employees, what are its provisions which, among others, mandate a declaration to be filed by the employees, and how has its enforcement been?

Written by Sushant Kulkarni , Edited by Explained Desk | Pune |
Updated: April 30, 2021 8:43:04 am
The set of norms came into force in Maharashtra as Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rules on March 28, 2005. (Source: Getty Images)

A woman officer from the Maharashtra Prison Department was dismissed from service after an inquiry revealed that she violated the Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) rules because she suppressed the information from the authorities that she has three children.

What is the ‘two children’ service rule for Maharashtra government employees, what are its provisions which, among others, mandate a declaration to be filed by the employees, and how has its enforcement been?

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What is the case of dismissal of the prison officer in Maharashtra?

A circular issued by the Maharashtra Home Department on April 25 stated that an internal inquiry had revealed that a woman prison officer, who was posted as Superintendent, District Prison (Category II) in Pune suppressed the information that she had three children prior to her joining the department in 2012. The inquiry was initiated in 2016 after a complaint was received against her.

The Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rule of 2005 defines a small family as wife, husband and two children and stipulates that a person is not eligible for a job with Maharashtra Government if he or she has more than two children after 2005. The circular states, “It came to light that prior to the officer’s appointment in the department in 2012, she had three children and her youngest child’s birth date is April 29, 2007. The officer in her statement in December 2015 declared that she has two daughters. The inquiry ascertains that the officer in spite of having three children, gave misleading information of having two children and was thus in violation of the Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rules, 2005.”

After completion of the inquiry in 2019, the woman officer sought relaxation under the rules. “There is no circumstantial cause for which such a relaxation can be granted. The officer had three children before joining the service but she hid that information to get the appointment and is thus not eligible for relaxation. She is therefore dismissed from the government service with immediate effect.” said the Home Department Circular.

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What is the ‘children norm’ or Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rules, 2005?

Maharashtra is one of the few states in the country that have a ‘two children’ policy for appointment in government jobs or even for the elections of some local government bodies. Other states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Gujarat, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Assam being the latest addition to the list in 2019.

The set of norms came into force in Maharashtra as Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rules on March 28, 2005. The rules mandate filing a small family declaration at the time of applying for a government job. The definition of child under these rules does not include adopted children. The rules make the Small Family norm an additional essential requirement for Groups A, B, C, D of Maharashtra government employees. A person having more than two children more than two children on the date commencement of the rule (March 28, 2005), shall not be disqualified for appointment under these provisions so long as the number of children on the date of such commencement does not increase. Also, provided that one or more than one children are born in a single delivery within an year of the commencement, shall not be considered for the disqualification of the rules.

The rules also empower the state government to give relaxation in ‘just and reasonable’ manner and mandates recording such reasons.

How has been the enforcement of this in Maharashtra till now?

A senior officer from the government of Maharashtra said, “These mandatory norms were formulated with an intention to set an example before citizens for following two-child policy for population control. As a policy it was also meant to discourage people from having more than two children by barring them from the prospects of government service. The disqualifications of serving employees under the rules has been done but these cases are rare. In most instances, cases come to light when someone complaints to authorities about an employee having more than two children. Many times these cases don’t stop at inquiry level but go into litigation in courts or administrative tribunals, with the employee in question challenging the decision.”

Another officer said, “There have been many cases in the past where employees have continued lying about the number of children by using various means. Some people have also been charged with IPC provision for ‘criminal breach of trust by public servants.”

The officer further said, “While only a few states in the country have made mandatory rules for government employees and local level elections, the two child norm is something that calls for more informed consensus on the issue and wider implementation. The union government has from time to time introduced the Promotion of Two Child Norm Bill.”

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