War on corruption lost already

Based on the criminal court verdict, Palanimithu, with a chequered career of earlier disciplinary proceedings, was dismissed from service.

We recently had the spectacle of the TN Assembly passing the Lok Ayuktha Act, in the nick of time, on the last day of its session in July 2018 to escape the wrath of the Supreme Court, based on whose diktat the legislation was conjured up, in the first place. The Lok Ayuktha legislation has come in for stinging criticism by the leader of the opposition as ‘toothless’ and by a NGO-Arappor Iyakkam as ‘Joke Ayuktha’. Obviously, this comes in the face of the cancer of corruption eating into the vitals of the State. There is a genuine worry among the people as to whether it may have become a ‘way of life’.

In a stunning verdict of stinging proportions, Justice V. Parthiban, Madras High Court, echoed these sentiments in a recent decision, in the context of a writ petition challenging the dismissal from service (Aug 31, 2007) of Palanimuthu, Sub Inspector of Police in TN Police Service, who was initially recruited as Grade II Police Constable in 1974,on charges of corruption. The police officer was convicted by a criminal court under Prevention of Corruption Act, and High Court and Supreme Court confirmed the conviction.

Based on the criminal court verdict, Palanimithu, with a chequered career of earlier disciplinary proceedings, was dismissed from service. The official filed the writ petition against the rejection of his request to modify the punishment of dismissal, on grounds of being ‘grossly disproportionate’. The authorities had even declined to entertain a mercy petition.

Hearing this writ petition Justice V. Parthiban has poured out in felicitous prose the agony and anguish of each one of us ordinary citizens. The language is stern but worrisome. They deserve to be quoted verbatim - as it reflects the view of everyone at what we are already facing today.

“In the matters of corruption, a stern view is to be taken, since the incidents of corruption are proliferating in alarming proportion in public employment. Therefore, a deterrent punishment ought to be the order of the day to curb or curtail the abominable menace of corruption. Today, the tentacles of corruption have permeated to all levels and are eating into the vitals of the State. If such omnipotent corruption is not checked and eradicated, practically the State will be left with nothing for the future generation to understand what is honesty, which is the very essence of civilised human existence. What is being witnessed today is an alarming rise of corruption cases in public employment and the corruption is almost being elevated to the status of institutional necessity.

Corruption, which was once an exception to a civilised existence, has now become a rule and over a passage of time, at this rate, corruption would grow like a Frankenstein’s monster and would annihilate the substratum of virtuous existence. Unless the monstrosity of ubiquitous corruption is handled with iron hand, it will eventually lead to a situation where the entire citizenry will be forced to participate in the game of corruption. The space for probity in public employment will be consumed in its entirety by the depraved officialdom. The society will ultimately degenerate into unwholesome dystopian existence, in future.”

In particular, it seems so apt to TN. Consider that a Chief Minister of the State was found guilty by the Supreme Court of corrupt practices. Her co- accused are behind bars. There are allegations galore being traded by political foes against each other, without any exception. And the government offices are not immune to such allegations and the commoner appears to be reconciled to the scenario. That is the tragedy that is beautifully captured by the learned judge. It is a verdict that needs to be flagged of and be the rule of law when corrupt practices are detected, for ruthless surgical remedies.

The learned judge felt so strongly that he has alluded to the Central Government Rules in similar circumstances and ruled. ...” it is suggested to the Government of Tamil Nadu to bring in suitable amendment to the disciplinary rules with a similar provision as provided for in, in CCS CCA Rules under major penalty chapter incorporating only removal and dismissal from service in proved corruption case...” .

The judge rings so true. Sad and yet the only surprise is the learned judge seems to assume ‘society will degenerate’ hereinafter alone, as if we are not already there.

(Author is practising advocate in the Madras High Court)

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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