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A petition filed against the prolonged suspension of a village administrative officer on charges of corruption recently prompted Justice SM Subramaniam of the Madras High Court to vent against the normalised state of corruption in the country. The order passed earlier this week states,
“Every common man, in our Great Nation, is facing corruption from his/her birth to death. Bribing the public authorities start right from the child in mother’s womb…
…The integrity of our Great Nation is to be protected. Unfortunately, the social evil of corruption has now become an accepted social phenomenon and the way of life for many people.”
Among other observations made, the judge also notes that even the judiciary is not exempt from corruption. He further goes on to opine that corrupt judges and public servants deserve to be declared as anti-nationals for hindering the country’s progress.
“Judiciary is not exempted from corruption. Corruptions in the judiciary are also widespread and admitted by the Great Jurists and the Hon’ble Judges…
Corrupt Judicial Officers are to be declared as Anti Nationals, so also the public servants. They are anti-nationals because they are obstructing the developmental activities of our Great Nation …Certainly, such persons are anti-nationals. Terrorists are declared as anti-social elements. Thus, persons corrupt and acting against the developmental activities of our Great Nation are also to be declared as anti-nationals…“
Justice Subramaniam’s order is replete with general observations concerning the omnipresence of corruption over the course of a person’s life, starting from birth to death.
“The worst form of corruption is happening in the burial ground and we the people are able to tolerate even the corruption in the burial ground. Unless the public servant in the burial ground maintained by the State or Local Bodies, are bribed, the dead body will not get appropriate timings for burial. The right of decent burial is also denied,” he observes in his order.
Justice Subramaniam also made critical note of the practice of extracting sexual favours in educational and public institutions. He said,
“It is painful and unfortunate to state that sexual favours are demanded in lieu of bribe in educational institutions and public offices and what else can be the worst situation than this in public administration.“
While ample anti-corruption laws have been enacted, the judge noted that the state of their implementation remained inadequate.
As he concluded his order, he also expressed hope that the minority of non-corrupt persons – whom he equated with the Pandavas – would eventually triumph over the majority of the corrupt ‘Kauravas’.
The main writ petition prompting the discussion was, however, dismissed after the Court concluded that it is up to the concerned state authorities to review the suspension order. The petitioner, in this case, had been suspended back in 2016 after being implicated in a criminal case being investigated by vigilance authorities.
The petitioner approached the High Court after a representation made to revoke his suspension was rejected in 2017. The judge dismissed his petition observing that,
“it is for the respondents to review the order of suspension according to the stage of the proceedings and as per the guidelines if any issued by the Government in this regard.“
However, before parting with the case, the Court also emphasised that the authorities have an obligation to review the suspension order. As noted in the order,
“It is to be borne in mind that the authorities competent must review the order of suspension periodically. A prolonged suspension is bad in law. An employee cannot be kept under the suspension for an unspecified period and such a prolonged suspension would result in financial loss to the State exchequer also.“
The judge also opined that instead of prolonging the suspension when the authorities are unable to conclude the investigative or disciplinary proceedings, the suspended employee may be tasked with a non-sensitive post.
“if the proceedings are unable to be concluded, then the authorities competent shall revoke the order of suspension at a particular point and post the employee in a non-sensitive post, till the conclusion of the criminal case as well as the departmental disciplinary proceedings.“
Read the order: