Saturday, December 9, 2023

Public authorities are expected to perform their duties diligently: Madras High Court

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The Madras High Court has observed that the public authorities are expected to perform their duties diligently and in the public’s interest at large.

A Single Bench of Justice S.M. Subramaniam disposed of a Petition filed by a man seeking following reliefs:

a) Why action should not be taken against the Chief Secretary for not conducting any departmental enquiry for such a long time from 2013 till today against the respondent official in spite of the respondent official cheated so many persons and inspite of a CCB case of cheating being registered against the respondent official and inspite of my representation dated 22-09-2016.

b) directing the Chief Secretary to enquire and initiate departmental action under service rules against the respondent official based on my representation dated 22-09-2016.

c) directing the Chief Secretary to temporarily suspend the respondent official till the disposal of the representation dated 22-09-2016 through departmental action under service rules to prevent further cheating of people by the respondent official .

The original petitioner died during the pendency of the petition and his son impleaded himself as a petitioner. The petitioner in person made a submission that the complaint given by his father was not acted upon nor a Criminal Case was registered against the accused persons in the manner known to law. Thus, his father was constrained to move the petition.

There are several allegations against the respondent official even before filing of the petition and the Chief Secretary has failed to initiate appropriate action against the second respondent, despite the complaint given by the original petitioner.

However, the Additional Advocate General who appeared on behalf of the Chief Secretary filed a Status Report on 27.10.2022, stating that soon after the matter was brought to the notice of the competent authorities, the Criminal Case was registered without any further loss of time.

It is noted by the Court that there is a force in the contention of the petitioner that the action was not taken in time. It is for the Chief Secretary to look into the facts and circumstances and if any lapses committed by the authorities, who was holding the position at that point of time is responsible, then all appropriate actions are to be taken, held by the Bench.

“The public authorities are expected to perform their duties diligently and in the interest of public at large. Whenever a complaint is filed and there is some information, which requires an action, then the authorities competent are bound to act without any loss of time. In the event of failure, it will result in no confidence on the public authorities and such an inaction and omission is unconstitutional. Thus, the delay caused at the instance of the authorities are also to be looked into and such unnecessary and enormous delay in initiating an action is to be avoided in future”, observed the Bench.

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