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HC asks govt to re-frame disciplinary rules to take stringent action against 'corrupt'

Press Trust of India  |  Madurai 

The Madras High Court on Wednesday voiced concern over rising corruption in the state's revenue department and expressing dissatisfaction over the efficacy of disciplinary rules in dealing with the malady, asked the government to either amend them or redraft them entirely to deal sternly with erring officials.

"The existing Discipline and Appeal rules are insufficient and not working effectively and efficiently," observed Justice S M Subramaniam of the high court's Madurai bench.

The delinquent officials were digging loopholes in the procedures and processes to find escape routes, said the judge, adding, the rules should be amended or re-drafted to deal sternly with the corrupt officials, including the village administrative officers (VAOs) and accord appropriate punishments to them.

The court directed secretaries of the Revenue Department and the Personnel and Administrative Reforms Department to set up a committee to amend the disciplinary rules or reframe them entirely.

The bench issued the directives while rejecting a plea by a woman, who had approached the court claiming to be the "second wife" of a deceased state employee and seeking a government employment on compassionate grounds following his death.

Woman A Kaleeswari had approached the court with a "second marriage" certificate issued by the VAO of a village, A Lakshmiyapuram, with the deceased government employee.

But her plea to the court was objected to by the daughter of the late government employee from his first wife.

During adjudication of the case, the court found that the VAO had issued the certificate to the petitioner without verifying any fact about the employee's divorce from his first wife or that of the woman from her first husband and if they were legal.

The judge observed how could the VAO issue a "second marriage" certificate to the petitioner even without verifying where did the marriage take place and if the first divorce was legal at all.

On court's summons, the tahsildhar and VAO had appeared in the court and admitted that they were not even aware of the need to maintain a register for the issuance of various types of certificates.

Taking note of the fact that the VAO had not been maintaining even a register for issuing marriage certificate, the judge wondered if the VAO was at all competent to issue such marriage certificates.

"The VAOs are issuing certificates under various heads on extraneous considerations. The tahsildhar is not aware of the duties and responsibilities of the VAOs," the court said.

"Corruption is in the ascending order" in the Revenue Department, observed an upset judge.

The VAOs were accused of taking money for issuing even death certificates, the judge said, adding "the existing discipline and appeal rules are insufficient and not working effectively and efficiently".

Ordering effective actions against corrupt officials, the court directed district collectors to verify asset details of the village administrative officials and initiate suitable action against them if their assets are found to be exceeding their legal incomes.

Noting that many of the VAOs were not even aware of their duties and responsibilities, the court asked the revenue secretary to should issue a comprehensive charter of duties and responsibilities of the VAOs to make them aware of the same.

The VAOs should also be asked to maintain registers for the purpose of entering records of various certificates issued by them to the public.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, August 14 2019. 20:55 IST