Likening corrupt officials to “old bandicoots” who were cheating the Government and the public using loopholes in the system, the Madurai Bench of the HC directed the State Food and Cooperative Secretary to crack the whip on corrupt staff and submit an Action Taken Report (ATR) within six months.
Justice N Kirubakaran made the stinging observation while frowning at the deliberate delay in testing the quality of hulled paddy. Suspecting the intentions of the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) officials in delaying the tests, he said, “it would only go to show that good old bandicoots sitting in official positions are defrauding the Government from whom they draw salary for their livelihood, disturbing the lives of innocent poor.”
The case at hand was that Thavakkal Batcha, a TNCSC paddy hulling agent in Thanjavur, had delivered 337 tonnes of processed rice to a TNCSC godown at Orathanadu on June 7. Three days later, officials sent the rice samples for testing. On June 11, the test revealed that the consignment contained a mixture of old rice, was low in moisture and had a musty smell. Later, officials issued a show cause notice to Batcha asking why he should not be blacklisted. However, Batcha moved the court seeking to quash the show cause notice citing that as per rules the quality control (QC) staff at the delivery point must send the samples for testing within 24 hours but sent it only 3 days later.
Sensing a subversive pattern, Justice Kirubakaran said this was classic case where officials have done disservice to the administration. “The very purpose of keeping 24-hour deadline for sending the sample for analysis is to get accurate results,” the judge said.
Pointing out that a number of cases have come before the court within a span of a month, he said: “This court has got every reason to suspect the motive of QC Inspectors, who deliberately send samples belatedly or by design to help, either the petitioner or similarly placed person.”
Justice Kirubakaran said courts should not be a mute spectator to such designs of officials who are indulging in illegal activities under the shield of the present system. Courts have to correct the system by passing consequential remedial orders taking action against corrupt officials.
The judge directed the Food Secretary and TNCSC Director to crackdown on officials at least those who had in the past 5 years `delayed the sample testing, and submit an ATR within 6 months. He made it clear that by allowing the petition, the court does not certify he is innocent. Instead the impugned show cause notice is quashed only for violation of the procedure.