Chennai: Two weeks after lashing out at the Chennai Corporation for rampant corruption in the civic body, the Madras High court ordered en masse transfer of all staff serving at its “Vigilance Cell”, within four weeks.
Disposing of a writ petition from H.Lakshmi on Thursday, Justice S.M Subramaniam directed the Corporation Commissioner, after having consultation with the DGP, to appoint a new set of officers in the Vigilance cell, now headed by an officer in the rank of DSP.
The petitioner sought for a direction to the Executive Engineer of Zone-VIII to remove a generator placed in front of the petitioner's premises abutting the front wall of her house by encroaching land belonging to the Chennai Corporation.
On August 15, passing strictures against the Chennai Corporation and pointing towards rampant corruption the judge had said, “In every transaction in the corporation, people are absolutely frustrated and the corrupt activities of the officials are rampant and the people are unable to get necessary approvals, certificates and documents from the Corporation without paying bribe to these officials”.
When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, Justice SM Subramaniam said the hard fact remains that unauthorised buildings are huge and such construction activities are even now progressing in Chennai City Corporation. Violations are also developed and such violations are also witnessed by all such competent authorities of the Chennai Corporation. Every citizen of Chennai Corporation is openly witnessing the visit of Junior Engineers, Assistant Engineers and the Executive Engineers in building sites within their jurisdiction.
The judge said the local police, in the event of complaint of nuisance by the neighbours and other persons, are also frequently witnessing the building activities. The local politicians are also involving in all such activities in collusion with the officials of Chennai Corporation.
This is the reality of the day-to-day happenings in Chennai Corporation. “This Court is surprised that how such activities are not brought to the knowledge of the Commissioner and the Government by the competent authorities. When every official of Chennai Corporation as well as the Government is aware of such happenings in Chennai City, no stern action had been taken by the Government and Chennai Corporation Commissioner,” the judge said.
He went on to say, “This court cannot come to a conclusion that the Commissioner of Chennai Corporation is ignorant of all such illegalities and irregularities. This Court cannot consciously hold that the Commissioner is an innocent person, having no knowledge about all these illegalities in Chennai Corporation. The question arises, why the Commissioner is inactive in respect of such illegalities and irregularities. Is the Commissioner not independent in his actions? If the Commissioner is handcuffed by some other higher officials? If the Commissioner is inefficient in controlling and minimising such illegalities and corrupt activities in Chennai Corporation? All these questions are to be answered by Commissioner, Greater Chennai Corporation with his conscience. However, this Court may not give an answer for these questions and it is for the Commissioner to have a realization of these aspects in his official capacity and act accordingly by taking effective steps to minimize and control all such illegalities and corrupt activities in Chennai City.”
Subsequently, the judge directed the Corporation Commissioner to consult with the Director General of Police, who in turn, shall depute adequate number of new set of Police Officials with proven integrity and honesty in their service, enabling the “Vigilance Cell” of the Corporation of Chennai to function more effectively and meaningfully. He further directed to set up the 'Vigilance Booths' in the front Offices of all the Corporation Offices/Buildings and CCTV cameras, within a period of four weeks, enabling the common man to provide information and submit complaints in respect of illegalities, irregularities and corrupt activities in Chennai Corporation functioning and it should be under the direct supervision of Commissioner, Greater Chennai Corporation.
The judge also directed Commission to issue instructions to all the employees working under the Commissioner of Corporation of Chennai to furnish the particulars and details of properties, both movables and immovable, in their name and in the names of their family members, including their dependants, within a period of 12 weeks and on receipt of such particulars shall verify the same along with the particulars provided by such officials/employees, at the time joining into the Corporation Service, the discrepancies and the differences, if any, found shall be investigated by the “Vigilance Cell” and by the competent authorities and appropriate prosecutions and actions are to be initiated, both under the penal laws and under the Discipline and Appeal Rules....