Chennai: Observing that no services, such as obtaining legal heir certificate or land patta, can be got at a taluk office without greasing the palms of officials, the Madras High Court on Monday said the state vigilance police should conduct period raids on these offices “to nab all these culprits indulging in corrupt practices” just as it was now being done in the offices of RTOs and the Sub-Registrar offices in the Registration department.
The corrupt officials were demanding bribes, which “is a painful situation prevailing”, said Justice S M Subramaniam, while dismissing a petition from B. Dharmaraj, special tahsildar, land acquisition, Dharmapuri district, challenging his suspension on account of corrupt charge. Judicial review against the suspension must be exercised cautiously as the order of suspension “is initiation of disciplinary proceedings and the merits and the demerits of the allegations can never be adjudicated”.
All such complex facts and circumstances are to be adjudicated only at the time of conducting an enquiry by affording, the opportunity to the delinquent officials, the judge added.
He regretted that corruption “is spreading like a cancer in our great nation and courts cannot show any leniency or misplaced sympathy in respect of corruption cases” even as the common man is “absolutely frustrated in respect of the corrupt activities in public offices and by the public servants”.
“This being the reality prevailing in our country, this court is of an opinion that all the higher officials including the courts, must take note of the prevailing situation and deal the cases appropriately. The cases of corruption cannot be dealt with in a routine manner. Some amount of caution is to be exercised”, said the judge.
He said the state government has to take necessary steps to issue Citizen Charter, in order to regulate the issuance of all necessary and mandatory certificates to the citizen, who all were submitting their respective applications. Some states in our country has already implemented the Citizen Charter by fixing the limit for issuance of the Legal Heir Certificate, Death Certificate, Nativity Certificate and all other certificates or documents. Such an effort must be taken by the state government, enabling the people to redress their grievances within a reasonable period of time. In the absence of any such Citizen Charter, it may not be possible to regulate these authorities to issue all the necessary certificates within a reasonable time, the judge added.
The judge said, “As far as the corrupt activities are concerned, it is high time that all the higher officials must be not only be vigilant and there must be frequent surprise inspections and actions must be prompt and there cannot be any lacuna”.
Undoubtedly, honest officials were also working across the country. This court was very much aware that there were many numbers of honest officials. However, those officials were also remaining silent spectators in respect of the corrupt activities occurring inside official premises. “It is duty mandatory on the part of the honest officials also to inform such corrupt activities to the appropriate authority for initiation of action. Even, the Prevention of Corruption Act provides that abettor also to be booked. Even, this court has held in some cases that the Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption are not registering the cases against the abettors. Under these circumstances, the concept of including the abettors as accused in the criminal cases also must be developed by the authorities concerned. Thus, this court is of an undoubted opinion that in respect of the corruption cases, the initiation of disciplinary proceedings, more so, an order of suspension cannot be quashed merely on the ground that there is a delay in issuing an order of suspension”, the judge added.