The Madras High Court on Friday directed the State government to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras inside all Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) in the State to prevent corruption.
It also ordered that property details of Regional Transport Officers and other high officials in the Transport department be obtained and must be cross checked with the properties declared by officials in their service records.
Justice S.M. Subramaniam issued the directions while dismissing a writ petition filed by a federation of driving school owners associations.
The federation challenged the government’s decision to do away with manual driving tests conducted in S pattern and instead introduce an electronic H track test for issuance of licences to drive light motor vehicles (including cars and sports utility vehicles) and two-wheelers.
‘No locus standi’
Holding that the federation had no locus standi to question introduction of the electronic test, the judge said the present manual system of issuing driving licences in a careless manner without assessing the driving skills accurately was one of the reasons for increasing number of road accidents.
It was common knowledge that most of the applicants obtained driving licences by bribing officials through driving schools, he noted.
“These driving school managements are colluding with the public officials and corruption becomes a routine day-to-day affair in the RTOs… People are frustrated by the corrupt activities of public officials in the State… It is painful to record that the State is duty-bound to ensure that such freelance corrupt activities are crippled to the extent possible in departments like transport, registration and commercial taxes,” the judge said.
In order to ensure that public services were provided to citizens without any hitch, the judge ordered installation of CCTVs in all RTOs in the State within three months.
He made it clear that the cameras should be functional at all times. He also ordered a ban on touts and driving school employees inside the RTOs. “This court has a genuine doubt as to whether the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption of the State is functioning efficiently,” the judge said and impressed upon the need for it to crack down on corrupt public officials.
The DVAC was ordered to constitute special teams to conduct surprise inspections in RTOs. “There cannot be any leniency or misplaced sympathy in respect of initiating action against corrupt officials,” he concluded.