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TN Govt Employees Get Immunity – Activists alleged that the State government was trying to stifle a public crusade against corruption.
A State government order that makes it mandatory for complaints of corruption against all public servants, regardless of their rank, to be referred to the government for its opinion before an inquiry can be held drew flak from political parties and anti-corruption crusaders on Thursday.
The implication of the order, issued on February 2, is that any inquiry on complaints against even clerks or subordinate staff will have to be first cleared by the department.
The G.O., signed by the Chief Secretary K. Gnanadesikan, is aimed at bringing about uniformity in treatment of complaints against government servants of all ranks. The G.O. says in case of any complaint against government servants “irrespective of the rank or group of the public servants complained against, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption shall forward the complaints to the Vigilance Commission, and the commission in turn shall seek and consider the remarks of the Government before ordering appropriate enquiry” by the DVAC.
The government cited a May 2014 Supreme Court verdict that struck down Section 6-A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act on the ground that it violated the equality principle as the basis for the G.O. The impugned section required special permission from the government to conduct an inquiry or investigation into allegations against officers of the rank of Joint Secretary and above. The Madras High Court had earlier asked the State government to evolve a “non-discriminatory policy” towards all public servants.
Slamming the order, DMK chief M Karunanidhi said his government in 1973 had introduced a law that acted as a deterrent against corruption by higher officials including the Chief Minister. “It was to prevent public officials from becoming corrupt. If you compare that with this order, you will understand how the present ruling party wants to protect lower-rung officials in a discriminatory manner,” he said in a statement.
TNCC president E V K S Elangovan said the order was a shield to protect “corrupt officials”. He contended that the G.O. contravened the Supreme Court verdict that no prior permission was necessary to initiate inquiry against any official. Activists alleged that the State government was trying to stifle a public crusade against corruption.
The Tamil Nadu government should be hauled up for contempt of court for giving all `public servants’ blanket immunity from prosecution in corruption cases, a petitioner’s PIL said in the Madras high court.
The PIL said instead of completely removing the protection that only IAS, IPS and other all India service officers in Tamil Nadu enjoy , the government has, ahead of the assembly election in May , issued an order making it mandatory for vigilance agencies to seek `prior permission’ from the government before prosecuting any state official.
Source: The Hindu