The liberation war affairs ministry yesterday revoked freedom fighter certificates of another 31 public servants for obtaining those through forgery, raising the number of cancelled certificates to 182.
The government, however, is yet to decide on what action it will take against them, according to sources at the public administration ministry.
Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque told The Daily Star that his ministry would write to the public administration secretary in a day or two for taking departmental action against the public servants who obtained the certificates through forgery.
"We will also ask him to discontinue all government facilities that they [the public servants] are enjoying," he said.
In case of the public servants who already retired, Mozammel said his ministry would soon ask the deputy commissioners concerned to file criminal cases against them.
Asked about the cancellation of the certificates, Cabinet Secretary Muhammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said it is considered a criminal offence to provide false documents.
The public administration ministry and other authorities concerned would decide on the issue once they get recommendations from the liberation war affairs ministry, he said.
Former cabinet secretary Akbar Ali Khan said if the government decides to take action against the public servants, it first has to investigate the allegations.
"If the public servants are found guilty, departmental action might be taken against them." And in case of the retired public servants, the government has to file lawsuits against them, he told The Daily Star.
Despite repeated attempts yesterday, The Daily Star couldn't contact the public administration secretary over the phone.
On July 21, the liberation war affairs ministry revoked the certificates of 35 public servants on the basis of NSI investigation. Earlier, 116 certificates had been cancelled.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Commission has been investigating four incumbent secretaries and one former secretary for obtaining freedom fighter certificates allegedly through forgery.
They are Expatriates Welfare Secretary Khandakar Shawkat Hossain, Health Secretary Niaz Uddin Mia, Liberation War Affairs Secretary KH Masud Siddiqui, Public Service Commission Secretary AKM Amir Hossain, and Privatisation Commission Chairman Molla Waheeduzzaman.
Sources at the liberation war affairs ministry said the ministry had found proof that the five public servants had obtained the certificates through forgery.
Asked about it, Mozammel said his ministry couldn't take any step in this matter as the ACC is still probing the allegations against the five public servants.
Moreover, the government is investigating another 5,000 people, including 300 government employees, for obtaining freedom fighter certificates allegedly through fraudulence.
Following the cancellation of 35 freedom fighter certificates on July 21, Mozammel told reporters that his ministry had asked the public administration ministry to discontinue the privileges and financial benefits of these public servants.
Interestingly, most of the public servants are mid-ranking officials. They include a joint secretary, an executive director of Bangladesh Bank, executive engineers, tax officers, primary school teachers and typists.
The government's decision to extend the retirement age of freedom fighters in public service had prompted the public servants to obtain the certificates through forgery.
In November 2012, the government extended the retirement age of freedom fighters from 59 to 60 years. In April 2010, their retirement age was extended by two years from 57.
In 2012, the number of freedom fighters in government services was around 11,000. Of them, those in final years of their service were of the age of 15 or 16 at best during the Liberation War.
To identify fake freedom fighters in the civil service, the government's first consideration has been the age of the officials during the Liberation War.
At present, the number of freedom fighters is 2.12 lakh, which was 1.98 lakh in the gazette published in 2002.