If Government Orders are "utterly disobeyed" by State Officers, how can we expect a common citizen to comply? Madras High Court

"If the Secretary Level Officers have not complied with the orders of the Government, how we can expect a common citizen to comply with the orders of the Government?" the Court asked.
If Government Orders are "utterly disobeyed" by State Officers, how can we expect a common citizen to comply? Madras High Court
Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi, Madras High Court

The Madras High Court on Friday slammed State Government officials for failing to effectively comply with a 2010 Government Order (GO) pertaining to anti-corruption measures and administrative reforms (AP Suryaprakasam v. State of Tamil Nadu and ors).

In focus was a GO passed on the recommendations made by an Administrative Reforms Committee chaired by retired Madras High Court judge, Dr. Justice AK Rajan.

One of the recommendations proposed was for fixing accountability on every government servant, at every stage and at every level. Accepting the recommendations made, the government had requested all department heads to issue necessary orders.

However, despite a decade having elapsed since the GO's introduction, the Bench of Justices N Kirubakaran and B Pugalendhi took note that little was done by the concerned departments to implement it.

When such is the state of affairs, the Court queried, "how we can expect a common citizen to comply with the orders of the Government?"

As noted in the order:

"Every Government Servant is expected to act in accordance with the Acts, Rules and the Government Orders issued by the Government then and there. If the secretary level officers have not complied with the orders of the government, how we can expect a common citizen to comply with the orders of the government. If the government servant is not complying with the orders of the government, the same can be treated as a misconduct or as unbecoming of the government servant, warranting initiation of appropriate departmental proceedings against them."

The Bench further pointed out that even after the government issued the departments reminders, on the Court's directions, "only few departments responded with certain circulars or some administrative instructions in a vague manner without implementing the said Government Order in true letter and spirit."

Remarking that even a common man cannot plead ignorance of law as an excuse, the Court queried,

"When that is the position for a common man, what would be the responsibility of the secretary level officers? If the Government Orders are utterly disobeyed by the secretary level officers in such a manner, then who can be expected to obey the Government Orders?"

The Court proceeded to adjourn the matter till December 22, opining that unless an Act or a Rule is brought to implement the 2010 GO, the recommendations made would remain on paper alone.

"This Court expects a positive response from the State Government on the possibility of amending the existing relevant Government Service Rules, for effective implementation of G.O.(Ms)No. 24, Personnel and Administrative Department, dated 17.02.2010 and to report before this Court by 22.12.2020", the Bench said, while adjourning the matter.

[Read order]

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