CHENNAI: Outsiders will not be permitted by government employees to handle files or records that might be confidential, sensitive and secret in nature.
Madras High Court observed that if outsiders, aliens or strangers were permitted to attend the public office and when they work in an unofficial manner by assisting the government servants, it will demoralise the work of the public office in no uncertain terms and the public will lose faith in the administrative machinery setup.
Justice M Venugopal made the observation while dismissing a writ petition from A A Muthu, a motor vehicle inspector attached to the unit office in Marthandam, Nagercoil district, challenging an order dated February 29, 2012, of the transport commissioner stopping increment for three months without cumulative effect.
During a surprise inspection carried out by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Wing at the unit office in Marthandam on November 28, 2005, five private individuals, of whom three were women, were found handling office records. Contending that Muthu had failed to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty as per Rule 20(1)(2) of the TN Government Servants’ Conduct Rules and conducted himself in a manner unbecoming of a government servant, the increment stoppage order was passed in 2012.
Muthu moved the Madras High Court with the present writ petition denying the charge. He said he was not present at the time of surprise inspection and he had no knowledge about the presence of the outsiders in the office. Further, the inordinate delay of seven years vitiated the disciplinary proceedings, he contended and added that the charge-memo had dampened the chances of him becoming the RTO.
Rejecting the contention, the judge observed that if the delay was satisfactorily explained, then the proceedings should be permitted to continue, particularly when the delinquent is not under suspension. In this case, the delay, administrative in nature, has been satisfactorily explained, the judge said.
As regards the allegation of outsiders presence in his office, the judge said, in government offices, the servants alone are to work. They should not allow outsiders to enter the office as a matter of routine. “It is to be remembered that the relevant records/ documents in a public office/ government are sacrosanct and they must be maintained/ handled by properly appointed persons/ employees and not by strangers, aliens or outsiders,” the judge said.