Holding that the statistics provided by the Greater Chennai Corporation on action taken against corrupt officials reveals its lack of efficient functioning, the Madras High court on Thursday directed the mass transfer of all the officials currently serving in the ‘vigilance cell’ within four weeks.
Disposing a plea pertaining to the installation of a generator abetting not only the wall of a resident but also encroaching Corporation land, Justice SM Subramaniam, said, “In view of the fact that rampant corruption is increasing in Chennai Corporation, this court is of the opinion that adequate steps are required for effective implementation of anti-corruption laws to control corrupt activities in government offices and more specifically in Greater Chennai Corporation.”
Based on this, the judge, besides ordering mass transfer of those in vigilance cell and their replacement in consultation with the DGP, also offered a slew of directions, which included setting vigilance booths with CCTV cameras in front offices of all Corporation offices within four weeks.
Noting that such vigilance booths must be under the direct supervision of the Commissioner, the judge held that the vigilance cells shall form ‘Special Secret Teams’ to conduct surprise inspections in the implementation of building approvals. The judge also directed the Commissioner to instruct all employees to furnish property details, both movables and immovables, in their name and in the names of their family, including their dependents, within 12 weeks.
Thereafter, the Commissioner shall verify the same along with the details provided by the employees, at the time of joining and discrepancies found shall be investigated upon and appropriate prosecutions initiated, both under the Penal Laws and Discipline and Appeal Rules, Justice Subramaniam said. The Commissioner was also asked to constitute special vigilance teams to inspect all the ongoing building projects and violations including unauthorized constructions dealt with in accordance with law. In the event of identifying any large-scale violations, action is to be initiated against officials concerned, the judge insisted the Commissioner complete the said exercise within 12 weeks.
Justice Subramaniam also directed the Commissioner to conduct review meetings within four weeks to identify all encroachments and initiate appropriate action as per the Encroachments Act and all other relevant Statutes and Rules.
Statistics fail to impress judge
On recording that from 1999, only 107 cases were booked under the Discipline and Appeal Rules, which included 35 cases of suspension and 72 cases of disciplinary actions, Justice Subramaniam held, “On perusal of the disciplinary proceedings initiated for the past 30 years, this Court thinks it is alarming that no final orders were passed in many cases. In some cases, meagre punishments were imposed.”
H Lakshmi owns two properties at Sannathi Street in Villivakkam. While she stays in one of the buildings, she had rented the other property to Dr Simon Hercules who converted it into a multi-specialty hospital. But in 2013, he installed a big generator on the road, leaning on the front wall of Lakshmi’s house and over Corporation land without any cover creating noise and smoke pollution. Lakshmi had sent complaints in writing to the authorities. But since no action was taken, she moved the HC. Incidentally, Lakshmi had also initiated Rent Control Proceedings against the doctor in 2017.