Nearly 25 cases relating to seniority and promotions are pending in the Madras High Court as Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) is violating the government orders and Court directions in appointment and promotion.
The irregularities in appointment and promotion are persistent, despite audit reports of CMDA bringing it to light every year. It is alleged that CMDA is making appointments and promotions by amending the draft rules, which are yet to be approved by the government.
What is surprising is that the posts are filled without the approval of the government and officials relax the experience and qualification requirements in the draft rules to fill the post. This had forced the then state finance secretary in 2010 to hit out at CMDA asking them to take prior approval while relaxing the experience and qualification in the service rules.
“When the validity of the draft rule is questionable, how come the authority to suit their personal interest promote or appoint someone,” questioned a CMDA source.
“Since the draft rules are yet to be approved, all the posts should get the green light from the government. Even the High Court in its judgment has observed it,” added the source.
The then Madras High Court judge P Sathasivam, who is now the Chief Justice of India, had stated: “So long as the word ‘prior approval of the government’ is found in Section 124 (1) of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, the CMDA making its own amendment and not getting approval from the government does not make any regulation valid.”
Surprisingly, this has been observed by the CMDA’s audit reports every year, but officials have turned a blind eye towards it.
What is more, the recent audit report, which was released in the state assembly recently, has highlighted irregularities in the appointment of the post of chief planner.
The report states that as per the draft service regulations under section 5, the government is the panel approving and appointing authority for the post in the level of chief planner. “But in practice, the panel for the chief planner is prepared by the Administrative and Finance Committee and got approved by the authority,” said the report.
“Despite the audit raised objections in this regard, the promotion to the post was continued to be made after getting the approval of the authority,” the report observed.
After the latest audit report, CMDA has started getting the approval of government in appointing chief planners, but the non-technical members are still appointed without the approval of government, casting aspersions on the whole appointment.
The issue has resulted in court battles as well as non-government organisations taking up cudgels against CMDA.
Many outfits like Citizens Care Foundation and Forum for Practising Qualified Post Graduate Town Planners in Tamil Nadu have even sent representation seeking disciplinary action against administrative officers in CMDA for allegedly “initiating various actions by suppressing or misinterpreting or hiding the provisions in CMDA rules, TN government rules, government and court orders and favouring unqualified and underqualified technical persons in CMDA for personal gains.”
It is the right time for the government to set up a committee to enquire into these regularities, the CMDA source added.