Hyderabad: It was not a good day in court for some of the top officials and bureaucrats of the Telangana state government on Thursday, with the two-Justice Bench showing the top bureaucrats of K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s government their place.
The higher echelons of the TS bureaucracy, inclu-ding the chief secretary, had to face the full flow of the majestic wrath of the Telangana High Court on Thursday for placing fudged figures and making contradictory statements about dues pending to the RTC by the state government and GHMC.
Chief secretary S.K. Joshi, principal secretary of finance K. Ramakrish-na Rao, in-charge MD of TSRTC Sunil Sharma, besides the principal secretary of transport and commissioner of GHMC, and other concerned officers, were made to spend the entire forenoon session of around three-and-a-half hours in court, replying to a volley of questions posed by Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Ragha-vendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy, while dealing with PILs on the ongoing RTC strike.
Justice Chauhan obser-ved that the court was amazed with the attitude of bureaucrats telling lies to court under oath, and filing illogical, callous affidavits, while pointing out to a series of contradictory financial figures given by principal secretary, finance, in two different affidavits about funds disbursed to RTC and statements of in-charge MD of RTC.
The CJ asked when these officers could easily mislead and cheat their own transport minister, even the Chief Minister, how could the court trust their statements or assume they were correct, in response to rationalizations offered by officers about their affidavits.
Justice Chauhan obser-ved, “even one month before the strike, you said the state owes money to the RTC. After the strike, you changed the stand and gave a tailored statement that the state had paid excess amount.”
The CJ said, “You may show loyalty to the government, but do not tell lies to the High Court. Judiciary only expects honesty from officers when litigation comes before it. Outside the court, you may do whatever you wish.”
The Bench said that though the court has immense power to deal with bureaucrats under perjury for filing false affidavits and misleading the Court, they didn’t chose to do so because they had sympathy and respect for the officers.
Maintaining that the court was not adversarial to the government, the Bench said, “we are also not satisfied with the attitude of RTC workers.”
Reacting to submissions by B.S Prasad, advocate general that workers had not responded to the Chief Minister’s open offer to rejoin duties, the Bench said, “the offer should be a promise, not a threat.”
Recalling the state’s response that it would not shell out a single penny to RTC, the bench said it had asked for the amount to create a confidence between both sides for negotiations, as `47 crore would have met four out of 45 demands of workers.
The CJ said, “When the state government can withstand `30,000 crore debt to construct irrigation projects, why can’t it shell out a mere `47 crore? It is just a drop in the ocean.”
“We are not adversarial with the state government. Don’t think so. We are also not happy with the worker’s attitude. We had asked Prakash Reddy (counsel for trade unions) to bend them to join duties by using his good offices, it had not happened. Our endeavour to resolve the matter through reconciliation has unfortunately not materialized so far,” the bench observed.
Applauding the government’s welfare schemes, as they far exceeded the central government’s, the Bench said it hoped the government would be generous to RTC workers and solve their problems.
Posting the case to November 11, the Bench instructed the CS to once again put forth the request of High Court to the state government to release `47 crore so that confidence was built between workers and RTC management....