Government officials are expected to perform their duties in the interest of the public at large as any lapse would result in people losing faith in their functioning, the Madras High Court has observed.

Justice S M Subramaniam made the observation on October 28 while disposing of a writ petition from M Gagan Bothra of Sowcarpet, seeking appropriate action against IAS officer V Mohanraj, the then secretary of the Transport department.

According to Gagan, the bureaucrat had borrowed Rs 10 lakh from his father Mukanchand Bothra in 2016. In return, Mohanraj issued a cheque, which bounced later. He lodged a complaint with the then Chief Secretary to take appropriate action against Mohanraj.

As there was no action, he preferred the present petition. During the pendency of the matter, Mukanchand died and his son -- Gagan -- pursued the matter. He argued the case as a party-in-person before the judge.

When the matter came up on October 28, the Additional Advocate General J.Ravindran informed the judge that a case was registered on the 2016 complaint on October 27 this year and it was being probed.

An irked judge observed that there is a force in the contention of Gagan that the action was not taken in time. It is for the (then) Chief Secretary to look into the facts and circumstances and if any lapses committed by the authorities, who were holding positions in the government at that point of time are responsible, then all appropriate actions are to be taken.

The public authorities are expected to perform their duties diligently and in the interest of the public at large.

The delay caused at the instance of the authorities are also to be looked into and such unnecessary and enormous delay in initiating an action is to be avoided in future.

The Chief Secretary has to initiate all appropriate action to ensure that the actions in these kinds of complaints against the public authorities are addressed within a reasonable time, the judge said.

However, since a criminal case has already been registered, the judge said that Gagan is at liberty to pursue the same for the purpose of establishing the complaint given by his father.

Cause Title: M.Gagan Bothra v. The Chief Secretary & Ors.

Click here to read/download Order

With PTI inputs