Hyderabad: The Tribunal for Disciplinary Proceedings, which inquires and reports regarding allegations of misconduct on the part of the government servants, has been lacking a permanent judge for the last six years. The fact came to light after Forum for Good Governance filed an RTI to enquire about the status of the Tribunal. Except for four months, once in 2016 and once in 2019, the tribunal has not seen a full-time judge.

In 1960, Civil Services (Disciplinary Proceedings Tribunal) Act was passed and after bifurcation of the state, the Act was adopted in the State of Telangana. The Tribunal may inquire the case referred to it by the government and on the conclusion of an inquiry, the Tribunal shall report its finding to the government which can pass appropriate orders. The government may appoint members who shall be a judicial officer of the status of district Judge, to the Tribunal.

The Tribunal is always under the additional charge of some other Judge. As against the sanctioned strength of 14 members, 5 people, one senior assistant, one junior assistant, one record assistant and two attenders are only working in the Tribunal.

“During the period when there is no full-time Judge, the full additional charge judicial officers attend the TDP court work once in a week, on Friday, as per the order by the High court of Telangana,” said the RTI report.

In the RTI report, it was revealed that in last 6 years, only 12 cases have been disposed by the Tribunal. At present, there are 365 cases (mostly decade-old) pending in the Tribunal. Out of the 365 cases, 288 belong to ACB and 77 to other irregularities.

“Due to lack of a full-time Judge, only 12 cases were disposed in the last 6 years and this speaks volumes about the functioning of the Tribunal. The Tribunal without Judge is almost defunct and non-functional,” said M. Padmanabha Reddy IFS (Retd), Secretary, Forum for Good Governance.

Padmanabha Reddy also alleged that when the ACB registers a case, the TDP conducts a thorough inquiry and sends report to the Vigilance Commission where it is examined from a legal angle and forwarded to the government with its recommendations. In a majority of the ACB cases, the ACB requests the government for permission to prosecute the accused. The Vigilance Commission also, while concurring with the ACB report, advises the government to accord permission to prosecute the accused.

“In the Secretariat, a lot of manipulations take place and the prosecution permission is denied. Instead the cases are sent to Tribunal, knowing well that there is no full-time judge and it may take years before the Tribunal sends its inquiry reports. In this way, in the home, revenue, municipal administration and irrigation departments, the accused officials get respite and decades pass by before the case is brought to a logical conclusion,” Padmanabha Reddy pointed out.

Reddy also assert that when the Tribunal is non-functional, there is no logic in the government sending ACB cases to it. In the State of Telangana, no government employee has the fear of punishment for wrongdoing, thanks to the Secretariat. Here it is pointed out that there is a special court to try ACB cases and it is nothing else but the Tribunal.

Forum for Good Governance has written a letter to the Governor of Telangana to direct the Chief Secretary of Government of Telangana to take steps for posting a full-time Judge to the Tribunal or else, withdraw the case from the Tribunal and permit the ACB to launch prosecution against the tainted employees.

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