Chennai: Flagging corruption, the Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to get the data on properties of Regional Transport Officers (RTOs) and install CCTV cameras in their offices within three months.
The direction by Justice S M Subramaniam came on a petition seeking to forbear the transport authorities from implementing a new automated test module to get driving licences for cars (Light Motor Vehicles) and two-wheelers.
The judge said details of both movable and immovable assets of RTOs and all other higher officials of the transport department should be obtained and verified with the information provided by them in their service records.
Rejecting the plea by a federation of driving schools, the court said the petitioner cannot challenge the government policy.
Highlighting collusion among the driving schools and RTO authorities and corruption in providing driving licences, Justice Subramaniam said the government’s new automated test to secure driving licence is necessary to “slow down the corrupt activities of the public officials.”
The general public is of the opinion that they could get driving licences by paying exorbitant amounts to driving schools for bribing transport authorities.
Nationwide, the government has come up with an automated, computer-aided test and it includes driving on ‘H Track,’ to get driving licence.
The new test, which envisages very little human intervention, is considered rigid when compared to traditional test methods and is aimed at ensuring that only those with requisite driving skills get the licences.
Opposing the new system, and seeking the old “physical driving test,” the driving school body had moved the court.
Citing a spike in number of accidents due to persons without adequate driving skills easily getting licences, the judge said the corrupt activities in the transport department for grant of driving licences to unskilled persons are to be “stopped at once.”
Under these circumstances, the introduction of electronic Driving Test in “H” Track was absolutely necessary and “this Court finds no infirmity in respect of introducing it,” he noted.
The court said it was imperative to cripple corruption in departments like registration and commercial taxes, besides transport.
Directing Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department to ensure frequent inspections to root out graft, the judge said there “is genuine doubt,” that the department was not functioning efficiently.
The judge, who directed installation of CCTV cameras in all the RTO offices within three months, further said that if the gadgets did not function continuously for a week, action should be taken against the errant officials by higher authorities.
The matter was posted for compliance after four weeks.