Madras High Court: In an interesting case where the Government employees and Police Officials were raising allegations of corruption against each other, a writ petition was filed for quashing the FIR, wherein S.M. Subramaniam, J. has passed the following orders:
The relief sought for in the present writ petition was not granted, since the trial commenced and is in progress. Further, requested the Judicial Magistrate to expedite the trial and dispose of the case.
The State was directed to verify the asset declaration given by the police/ respondents and conduct an enquiry with reference to the allegations of disproportionate wealth raised by the Government employees/ petitioners and if there is any contradictions or discrepancies in the declarations.
Further, the State was directed to verify the mandatory declarations being given by the Police Officials periodically across the state with reference to Rule 9 of the Tamil Nadu Subordinate Police Officers Conduct Rules, 1964, and verify the genuineness of the declarations including all the assets purchased in the name of the family members, relatives. In the event of any discrepancies, contradictions or otherwise, all appropriate actions have to be initiated, including confiscation of illegally accumulated wealth through corrupt practices.
The State was directed to ensure that Special Cells are constituted in the offices of the Director General of Police and Director General of Vigilance and Anti-corruption by providing separate telephone numbers, mobile numbers/ WhatsApp numbers enabling the citizens to register their complaints or provide information about corrupt activities in Government Departments and instrumentalities of the State.
Further, the State was directed to ensure that the procedures contemplated for confiscation of properties are being adopted in all corruption cases, and if necessary, interim attachments are also to be made as contemplated under the provisions of law.
The Court noted that the allegations and counter allegations between the Government employees and the police would reveal that the petitioners purchased a property, and the said purchase was questioned by the defacto complainant and further allegation of accumulation of disproportionate wealth by the petitioners was also has been raised. The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department dropped the allegations of accumulation of disproportionate wealth by the petitioners. However, the Criminal Case registered against the petitioners is pending. The trial has already commenced, and the Superintendent of Police(‘SP’) has stated that some witnesses have already been examined by the Trial Court. Further, it said that the Criminal Case has to be disposed of as expeditiously as possible.
With reference to the allegations of demand and receipt of bribe by some police personnel and the other serious allegations raised against other respondents are not properly investigated by the police. After perusing the allegations set out in the affidavit, filed in support of the writ petition, would reveal that some incidents occurred in the Police Station, Central Crime Branch and the narration of the incidents also reveal that something happened, which is to be investigated properly by the Competent Higher Authorities.
The Court further said that the SP instead of investigating merely stated that the allegations are bald in nature and such allegations are made on account of personal vengeance. Mere reading of the affidavit provides certain particular details and the time duration, which requires investigation. If certain bald allegations are made against the Police Officials, the Higher Authorities are bound to conduct an enquiry. They cannot have a standard approach of rejecting such allegations by merely stating that such allegations are made to escape from the clutches of Criminal Law or from and out of personal vengeance. If the allegations are made with specific incidents including date, time and amount given to the Police Officials as bribe, certainly an enquiry is warranted, and the higher officials cannot close their eyes in such serious nature of allegations.
The Court said that the writ petition was instituted in the year 2010 and it has been pending for about 13 years. The government employees were exonerated from the allegations of accumulation of disproportionate wealth by the Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. However, no action has been taken against the police personnel, even though the Government employees made serious allegations of demand and acceptance of bribes, when they were arrested by the Police.
The Court said that corruption is not only found in illegalities, even for legal transactions, demand and acceptance of bribe is found in large scale in Government Departments and in Police Department. Therefore, the public opinion in this regard is to be removed, only by developing transparency in Public Administration, minimising the procedures to be adopted and initiating appropriate action against the complaints made by the aggrieved persons. Therefore, the Higher Authorities are expected to be sensitive in the matter of corruption allegations.
The Court said that corruption in India has become deep-rooted and is galloping unchecked and unhindered. It is well known how our Great Nation appears to be sinking deeper and deeper in corruption. There is little doubt that corruption in present-day India pervades all levels and all services, not even sparing the Indian Administrative Service (‘IAS’), Indian Police Service (‘IPS’) and Judicial Service.
Further, the Court said that the nexus between corrupt politicians and corrupt bureaucrats has been clearly proved in recent years by enumerable scams. A contributory factor to the growth of corruption in India is that the cases relating to corruption are often handled in a casual and clumsy manner.
The Court took note of various Supreme Court Judgments relating to Corruption and provisions for confiscation under the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018.
Further, the Court took note of Tamil Nadu Subordinate Police Officers Conduct Rules, 1964 and Tamil Nadu Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1973, and said that it is doubtful whether such provisions are followed in its strict sense, so as to ensure that the disproportionate assets, if accumulated are periodically monitored and actions are initiated in order to control corrupt activities amongst the Public Servants.
The Court said that the Conduct Rules applicable to the Higher Officials including the IAS, IPS officers are to be monitored by the State as well as by the Central Government Agencies. Since All India Level Officials are governed under the Central Rules, the Central Agencies are also bound to monitor the accumulation of wealth and the corrupt activities in their official functioning of the All-India Level Officials
As per the Court, consistent monitoring and stringent actions are warranted to fight against corrupt activities. Participation of citizens in general is of paramount importance. Creation of awareness amongst the youth about the evils of corruption is imminent. The ill effects of corrupt activities needs to be broadly published.
The Court noted that the Corrupt Public Servants (Forfeiture of Property) Bill though forwarded to the Ministry of Law and Justice in the year 1999, it is kept in cold storage for the past 24 years, and said that under these circumstances, in order to initiate effective measures to prevent corruptions, the Parliament has to think about framing stringent laws.
[M. Rajendran v. Secretary to Government, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 4862, Order dated 12-07-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioners: Advocate V.S. Manimekalai;
For Respondents: Additional Advocate General P. Kumaresan, Additional Government Pleader T. Arun Kumar, Advocate H. Manivannan, Advocate V. Sivalingam;
Amicus Curiae: Senior Counsel R. Singaravelan.