Judiciary vs bureaucracy

Close on the heels of ordering the arrest of Tamilnadu Higher Education Secretary Mangat Ram Sharma for his failure to appear in a contempt case despite advance notice (it was recalled after he tendered an unconditional apology), the Madras High Court, while hearing another case, expressed disappointment with the ‘apathy shown by authorities’ in providing civic amenities to people and said that it would be constrained to summon the State’s Chief Secretary and ask for an action plan if the officials are not willing to work.

Making strong comments, a division bench of Justice Vineeth Kothari and Justice Anitha Sumanth said on Tuesday: ‘We are not here to do the work of such authorities. We can only monitor, if needed. If they do not want to work, we will call the Chief Secretary to give a plan.’ As if these two instances were not enough, a contempt of court petition has also been filed in the High Court against Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi, Municipal Administration Secretary Harminder Singh, Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner D Karthikeyan and Chennai city Commissioner of Police A K Viswanathan for non-compliance of an order passed regarding erection of flex boards in public places.

The case was filed by social activist ‘Traffic’ K R Ramaswamy alleging non-compliance of the order passed by Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice P Rajamanickam 19 December. Pointing out that the judges had restrained recognised and registered political parties from erecting flex boards on roads, platforms and walkways throughout Tamilnadu, as they tend to divert the attention of motorists and cause hindrance to pedestrians, the petitioner alleged that the court’s order was flouted. As observed by the HC, ‘a joint and coordinated effort of all the departments’ is the need of the hour in implementing court orders and serving the public in a better manner.

NT Bureau