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HC orders action on misappropriation of civic body funds


Press Trust of India Chennai
The Madras High Court has

observed that not protecting the funds of the state exchequer or a town panchayat amounts to misconduct and if the officials concerned don't take action on such misappropriation, they would also be liable for prosecution.
Justice S M Subramaniam said this in an order recently while disposing of a petition filed by K Balachandran, vice-chairman of Panamarathupatti I grade town panchayat, Salem district, seeking recovery of Rs 33.53 lakh allegedly misappropriated by executive officer of Jalakandapuram town panchayat P K Madhaiyan.
The petitioner sought a direction from the court to the secretary, municipal administration and water supply department, the director of town panchayats and directorate of vigilance and anti-corruption to recover the sum.
During an audit, it was found that Rs 33.53 lakh had been misappropriated by Madhaiyan.
The judge said, "In the event of any financial loss to the state exchequer or to the town panchayat, the competent officials must recover the same from the persons concerned without any delay.
In the event of not effecting recovery by such officials, then the state shall initiate appropriate action against the superior officials and recover the same from their salary."

"Not protecting the funds of the state exchequer is also misconduct," the judge said.
Higher officials if they fail to initiate appropriate action for the recovery of the financial loss caused to the town panchayat or to the state, then, they would also be certainly liable for prosecution for "their negligence, dereliction of duty and for causing loss to public funds".
Suggesting that two-fold action is permissible, the judge said, If an employee made a financial loss, the first action would be to recover the loss caused to the state exchequer.
The second action would be to initiate disciplinary proceedings and criminal prosecution, if necessary, under the provisions of the rules and laws.
Mere pendency of the disciplinary proceedings or criminal case would not preclude the authorities from recovering the loss occurred to the town panchayat or to the state exchequer, the judge said.

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First Published: Jun 27 2018 | 7:55 PM IST

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