Fate of State

A spate of judgements and observations just in the last three months by the Madras High Court paint a pathetic picture about the state of the State, both government as well as the society.

Coming down heavily on the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department over idol thefts in Tamilnadu, the HC said if such a situation continued, it would be constrained to hand over all the related cases to the CBI.

Idol thefts have become regular in the State, the place where Saiva and Vaishnava culture were born, the Court said, adding that it showed the sorry state of affairs. Much recently, the HC lamented ‘archakas’ were not coming forward to complain to the authorities in case of idol thefts in temples. The priests were functioning mechanically and not bearing in mind that they were doing service to God, the Court observed.

In a pious land where temples are sanctuaries of God as well as tourism destinations, the disappearance of idols with the connivance of insiders has achieved what the iconoclastic Dravidian idols could not.

The HC made to the ‘head’lines, literally, when it expressed dissatisfaction over the way the mandatory helmet rule (making the headgear must for pillion riders too) is being implemented in Tamilnadu.
Taking a tough stand, the judges asked the government counsel whether issuing of a G.O. alone was enough. The judges also pointed out that the government machinery has not been functioning in an efficient manner in implementing the order and officials are duty-bound to do it. The judges even wanted to know whether police personnel wear helmet and officials wear seat belt. Things can’t get heady than this, so to speak.

Want a classic example to the saying ‘fence itself eating the crops’? Here it goes: The Madras High Court ordered the Commissioner of Chennai Corporation to transfer all the officials in the vigilance cell. The Court directed the civic body head to pack off all corrupt officials in the Vigilance Cell and replace them with honest persons. The irony here is, the very purpose of the cell, which is facing bribery charges, is to find the corrupt.

The judge said he wanted to place on record, with pain, the real situation prevailing in the civic body. ‘The Act, rules and regulations were not meant to remain just on paper. They were to be implemented by superior executives to achieve 100 per cent results. If large-scale graft was allowed to go unchecked, what would be the methodology to curb violation of rules and regulations by builders and contractors’, he asked.

The judge told the Commissioner to remove corrupt officials from the Corporation Vigilance Cell and consult with DGP, who should depute enough new police officials with proven integrity and honesty to man the cell so it could function more effectively and meaningfully.

The Court is not sparing anyone. Summoning the Thoothukudi collector to explain reasons for detaining an advocate under the National Security Act despite Court direction against it, the HC’s Madurai bench castigated the attitude of the police.

The judges pulled up Thoothukudi Collector for signing the detention order, even without considering the Court’s direction in the bail order. Warning that his move amounted to contempt of court, the Judges said that the action of the authorities made them think whether Tamilnadu was a police State or a democratic one. Good question, indeed. But we wish we had an answer.

And here is something about commission. No, not that commission. That’s a different story. This is about probe panels. The Tamilnadu government had spent Rs 4.11 crore of public money for the inquiry commission constituted to probe the alleged irregularities in constructing the new Secretariat building. Taking a strong view on such unrestricted expenditure of public money for a commission that was stayed by the court three years ago, the HC said, ‘Is this not a waste of expenditure? The government has not effectively followed the functioning of the commissions. When the expenditure is made from government exchequer is going waste, the court cannot be a mere spectator’.

Tamilnadu’s case is one of the tragic ironies. In the most religious region, Gods vanish from temples. Or at least, clones take their place. Cops on prowl to maintain basic civic laws themselves violate them with impunity. May be their hot heads don’t need helmets. One has to be eternally vigilant about vigilance officers! A District Collector blatantly violates court order, with the police in cahoots. And a probe commission that was declared defunct is continuing to function at taxpayers’ expense warranting a probe by itself — at taxpayers’ expense. The list lengthens with every sitting of the courts. Height of Chaos indeed — HC certified.

e-mail the writer at
[email protected]

Jawahar T R