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sidmis

Vigilance bodies out of RTI Act purview

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sidmis

Vigilance bodies out of RTI Act purview

as reported in Express Buz Express News Service 20 Sep 2008

 

CHENNAI: Following a flood of applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking information regarding the progress of corruption cases handled by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) and the Tamil Nadu State Vigilance Commission (TSVC), the State Government has exempted both organisations from the purview of the RTI Act.

 

A Government Order issued in this regard recently said revealing any information to any agency, including the aggrieved person, would be detrimental to the progress of the case. Of late, there has been a tendency on the part of some citizens to ask for a lot of information under the RTI Act, the GO observed.

 

The DVAC and the TSVC primarily deal with investigation into alleged corrupt activities of public servants. The investigations and subsequent actions culminate in disciplinary action or criminal action in the appropriate courts of law, the GO said.

 

“Confidentiality and secrecy in certain cases requires to be maintained during the whole process from the initial stage up to filing charge-sheet in the court on the one hand and up to issue of final orders in the case of disciplinary proceedings,” the order pointed out.

 

“The government feels that in vigilance cases giving information at the initial stages, investigation stage and even prosecution stage would lead to unnecessary embarrassment and will definitely hamper due process on investigation,” the GO added.

 

The State government has passed orders in this regard according to sub-section (4) of Section 24 of the RTI Act. The Section states that “nothing contained in the Act shall apply to such intelligence and security organisations established by the State Government, from time to time, by notification in the official gazette”.

 

It may be recalled that former Social Welfare Minister Poongothai had to step down from the office following the release of her telephonic conversation with the former DVAC chief SK Upadhyay, who is now under suspension.

 

Express Buzz - Vigilance bodies out of RTI Act purview

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karira

Members should be aware that similar moves are afoot in AP also.

More states will definitely follow suit.

 

It will be worthwhile to read the preamble of the RTI Act once again:

 

And whereas democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed;

 

It will also be worthwhile to read Sec 24(4) once again:

4. Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to such intelligence and security organisation being organisations established by the State Government, as that Government may, from time to time, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify:

 

Provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section:

 

 

Now, just look at the website of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption (DVAC), Govt. of Tamil Nadu.

 

On the homepage (Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption), the Director proudly states:

 

Corruption is one of the greatest challenges facing the contemporary society. It undermines good governance, distorts public policy, leads to wasting of resources and hampers development. But, most of all, corruption hurts those who can afford it least. However, with the cooperation of the public in general and of the enlightened citizens in particular, corruption can be contained to a significant extent. This website is an attempt to educate the people about the various dimensions of corruption, the legal provisions and the efforts being taken by the DVAC to tackle corruption.

 

 

Director

 

Further, the "Nature of Work" as outlined on the page:

(Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption) is:

Nature of Work : The main responsibility of the DVAC is to exercise vigil (prevention) and to launch anti-corruption (detection) initiatives against corrupt Public Servants. Vigilance aspects include collection of Vigilance Intelligence regarding malpractices/irregularities, criminal misconduct, corrupt practices in the functioning of Public Servants of any department or in the implementation of a project including individual acts of corruption/acquisition of assets disproportionate to one’s known sources of income, etc. Anti- Corruption work involves undertaking enquiries/investigation ordered by the Government against the corrupt Public Servants, laying traps on specific complaints on Public Servants who demand and accept bribe from the public for doing legal work, abuse of authority by Public Servants, accumulation of disproportionate assets by Public Servants and launching of criminal prosecution/tribunal enquires/departmental enquiries.

 

DVAC is neither a "intelligence" organisation nor a "security" organisation.

Then how can it be excluded from the purview of the RTI Act under Sec 24 ?

 

Who is trying to fool whom ?

 

Empty words perhaps. As someone once told me "Vigilance and Anti Corruption Departments" are just tools in the hand of Politicians and Government Servants to cover up their corrupt deeds. How true !

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jps50

The decision needs to be challenged in High Court as it is against letter and spirit of the RTI Act.

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karira

As reported by Special Correspondent in thehindu.com on 27 September 2008:

The Hindu : Tamil Nadu News : Exclusion of DVAC from RTI Act flayed

 

Exclusion of DVAC from RTI Act flayed

 

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Coalition against Corruption has criticised the government’s move to exclude the State Vigilance Commission and the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption from the purview of the Right to Information Act.

 

In a release on Friday, the coalition, whose partners include Transparency International India – TN Chapter, said that exempting a key agency entrusted with fighting corruption was “tantamount to retreating behind closed doors and reverting to secret decision making.” The release calls into question the August 26 order of the government, which invoked Section 24 of the RTI Act, and stated that a need was felt to remove the organisations from the Act’s purview to prevent the possibility of prejudicing the investigation of corruption cases.

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karira

As reported in thehindu.com on 30 November 2008:

The Hindu : Tamil Nadu / Coimbatore News : Bring DVAC under purview of RTI Act

 

Bring DVAC under purview of RTI Act

 

Coimbatore: The Coimbatore Consumer Cause has appealed to the Chief Minister to reconsider the decision to exempt the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption from the purview of the Right to Information Act.

 

In a memorandum to the Chief Minister, the secretary of the forum, K. Kathirmathiyon, pointed out that the Government had notified that the Right to Information Act shall not apply to the State Vigilance Commission and Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. The Government had said that the State Vigilance Commission and V&AC had to maintain confidentiality and secrecy in the investigation from the initial stage till filing of charge sheets, since providing information would be detrimental to the progress of the case.

 

Hence exemption was given to the Vigilance Commission and DVAC under sub-section (4) of Section 24 of the Act. He said that reasons for exemption were understandable but a total exemption could have been avoided. Only the information regarding the investigations/inquiry conducted by these bodies could have been exempted and not other information. In respect of trap cases, there was inordinate delay in refunding the “trap money.”

 

There were instances of it not being refunded even after decades. Even the consolidated details about the total number of cases for which the refund has to be made and total amount to be refunded to the complainants etc were not available with the Vigilance Commission.

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Atul Patankar

Mr. Shailesh Gandhi had asked 9UNDER RTI, of course) about performance indicators of the 'Lok Ayukta', equivalent to Lok Pal in Central government. The statistics is that, they rceived 7,651 complaints, and initiated investigation in 2 cases. Again in 2006, complent received 6,250, started investigations -2, no investigations completed, hence no action taken! Salary bill for a year -1.28 crores for staff of 87!

 

If I were working in such organisation, I will move heaven and hell to get exempt from RTI. I have nothing to show for my efforts if any, so I have everything to hide. Ultimately, it is a question of my survival!

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dssampath

Recently Vigilence and Anti Corruption had made a raid in Metro Transport Corporation Limited, Madurai and seized some un accounted cash from M.D. The same were reported in all News papers on the next day morning. But surprisingly no action was taken against the errering officer. In this regard my friend had asked some questions under RTI act to V & AC directorate about the FIR registered by them and the confession statement given by the errering officer. In this regard the V & AC directorate had replied that as per the notification issued by TN Government vide its G.O.Ms.No.158, P & AR Department, dt. 26-08-08, the directorate of vigilence and anti corruption have been exempted from the purview of RTI Act and hence it is not necessary to provide information. The notification can be viewed at http://www.tn.gov.in/gorders/par/par_e_158_2008.pdf

 

But in sec 24(4) of RTI Act, it is specifically mentioned that the informations relates to corruption and human rights violation are to be provided. I thing that the above notification is to be challenged before court of law. Whether my friend have to apply to SIC, Tamil nadu first in this regard. Kindly guide in this regard.

DS SAMPATH

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karira

Sec 24 mentions that those organisations exempt will have to disclose information related to Corruption & Human Rights - it seems that it means Corruption and Human Rights issues within that organisation.

 

There is a previous order of the Chennai High Court on such a matter: http://www.rtiindia.info/downloads/p13_sectionid/2/p13_fileid/41

 

(This is on our sister website and since it is on a separate server, you need to register on that portal separately)

 

Actually it sounds very funny that organisations which are supposed to be at the forefront of fighting Corruption have been kept out of the purview of the RTI Act.

 

Please see this thread:

 

http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/7276-vigilance-bodies-out-right-information-act-purview.html

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sureshram56

The decision of the Court is atrocious!

The very purpose of the legislation ie Transparency is defeated.

Why the Courts put spokes in exposing corruption by RTI

 

HC upholds exclusion of vigilance commission

31 Mar 2009, 2358 hrs IST, TNN

 

CHENNAi: The Madras high court has upheld the state government's order exempting the state vigilance commission and the directorate of vigilance

 

and anti-corruption (DVAC) from the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

 

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice H L Gokhale and Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, dismissed a writ petition from P Pugazhendi, an advocate, seeking the quashing of an order dated August 26, 2008. by which the government invoked its powers under Sec 24(4) of the RTI to declare that the law shall not apply to the state vigilance commission and DVAC.

 

Several activists working for the right to information had questioned the government's move when the order was passed, wondering what was the need for the government to remove these organisations dealing with corruption among public servants to be exempted from the RTI.

 

The petitioner had raised several grounds to assail the exemption granted to the vigilance bodies from the law's purview. He had pointed out that the CBI had not been kept out of the RTI even though it was also dealing with corruption cases pertaining to public servants under the Central government. He also argued that the state government's exercise of its power to exempt the DVAC amounted to destroying the ideal of transparency in public administration.

 

However, the bench rejected these arguments. Referring to the point about the CBI, the court said the sub-sections of the Act concerning the central and state governments' power to exempt organisations involved in intelligence and security were separate provisions, and there was no need for one to be mixed up with the other.

 

On the point about erosion of transparency, the bench noted that the preamble to the legislation permitted "preservation of confidentiality" about sensitive information.

 

The bench noted that the order had itself mentioned that these organisations primarily dealt with investigation into alleged corrupt activities of public servants. "It is stated that confidentiality and secrecy in certain cases are required to be maintained right from initial state up to the filing of chargesheet (in cases that lead to criminal proceedings) and up to the final order in disciplinary proceedings.

 

The bench agreed with the government's contention that giving information relating to such proceedings would "lead to unnecessary embarrassment and definitely hamper due process".

 

"In our view, the state has given sufficient reasons as to why it was exercising powers under Sec 24(4)," the bench said, and dismissed the petition.

HC upholds exclusion of vigilance commission - Chennai - Cities - The Times of India

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karira

As reported by Shyam Ranganathann thehindu.com on 03 April 2009:

The Hindu : Tamil Nadu / Chennai News : Information on completed cases can be obtained under RTI Act: Activist

 

Information on completed cases can be obtained under RTI Act: Activist

 

It would not apply to notified intelligence and security organisations

 

CHENNAI: The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) has not been forthcoming with information though the State government clarified that the exemption of the DVAC from the purview of the RTI Act did not include cases where the investigation was completed.

 

V. Madhav, an RTI activist, says that he had filed a petition asking for some information on number of cases where investigations had been completed and the identity of those convicted after investigation, from the DVAC, on October 4, 2008. When no information was forthcoming after 30 days, he filed a first appeal and also visited the Public Information Officer on November 24, 2008. As he was not even allowed to meet the PIO, he filed a petition with the State Information Commission.

 

Clarification

 

 

“I am aware that the DVAC has been exempted under the Right to Information Act by G.O. No. 158 dated 26 August, 2008, but there has been a later press release No. 786 dated 23 September, 2008 from the government, which clarified that information regarding cases where investigations have been completed, information can be obtained,” Mr. Madhav says in his petition to the State Information Commission on December 11, 2008.

 

He also argues that Section 24(4) of the Act, under which the DVAC has been exempted, mentions that the provisions of the Act would not apply to “intelligence and security organisations” which may be identified by the State and the Central government, “provided that the information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section.”

 

While the High Court has recently upheld the exemption of the DVAC from the RTI Act, the State Information Commission is yet to take up his petition for examination, Mr. Madhav says, while pointing out that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Central Vigilance Commissioner, the equivalent bodies under the Central government, are under the purview of the Act.

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karira

As reported by Jeeva of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 13 November 2009:

DVAC comes under RTI Act: info panel - Chennai - City - The Times of India

 

DVAC comes under RTI Act: info panel

 

CHENNAI: In a landmark ruling, the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission has held that the Right To Information (RTI) Act would apply to the

Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), nullifying the effect of a State government order of August 26 last year exempting the DVAC and the State Vigilance Commission from the purview of the Act.

 

The decision of the Commission has come as a shot in the arm for RTI activists, who have been campaigning for greater transparency among several government departments in furnishing information.

 

The State Information Commission directed DVAC to furnish within two weeks the number of investigations completed, the number of those convicted from 2003-04 to 2007-08, and their names and designations to RTI applicant V Madhav, a resident of Porur.

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karira

As reported by TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 09 December 2009:

Stay on order bringing DVAC under RTI - Chennai - City - The Times of India

 

Stay on order bringing DVAC under RTI

 

CHENNAI: The Madras high court has stayed the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission's ruling that the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) will come under the purview of the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

 

The court granted the stay on a writ petition filed by the DVAC recently, challenging the commission's order. The commission, last month, had directed the DVAC to furnish within two weeks the number of investigations completed, the number of accused (in DVAC cases) convicted from 2003-04 to 2007-08, their names and designations and a brief description of the charges to V Madhav, a resident of Porur, who had sought these details under the RTI Act.

 

The DVAC had earlier refused to provide the information to Madhav, citing an order of the state government, dated August 26, 2008, exempting the DVAC and the State Vigilance Commission from the purview of the act.

 

With this, the number of information commission orders stayed by the high court has gone up to 37 in the last two years. Most of them relate to the imposition of penalty against the public information officers of various departments for failing to reply to RTI queries.

 

Although, under Section 23 of the RTI Act, the information commission is the final appellate authority in RTI cases, the public information officers of many government departments move the high court using writ jurisdiction to challenge the commission's orders.

 

RTI activists felt that the government should not encourage the public information officers to move the high court but instruct them to strictly adhere to the RTI Act and obey the orders of the information commission.

 

"Many RTI applicants approach the state commission only after they are not able to get information from the public information officers and the first appellate authorities or are not satisfied with their replies. The commission passes the order after conducting an inquiry and the whole process from the date of filing the RTI application takes at least six months to reach finality. So the need of the hour is for the government to ensure that RTI applicants get a proper reply to their queries within the stipulated time of 30 days,'' said M Thooyamurthy, an RTI activist in Tondiarpet.

 

Information commission sources said the government should discourage public information officers from including the commission as a respondent while moving the high court.

 

"Is any lower court included as a respondent when its order is challenged before the high court? The information commission is an independent authority and should not be made to file counter-affidavits for its own orders. The public information officers should be asked to include only the applicants as respondents,'' sources said. The commission also did not have a separate legal section or adequate manpower to prepare counter-affidavits, they added.

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karira

As reported by PTI in ptinews.com on 12 January 2010:

fullstory

 

DAVC not totally exempted from RTI: Madras HC

 

Chennai, Jan 12 (PTI) The Madras High Court has held that the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) was not excluded from the purview of the Right to Information Act when it pertained to allegations of corruption and human rights violations against public servants.

 

"This court is not inclined to go into the efficacy of the exemption given to DVAC from the purview of the Act. But when the very same organisation deals with corruption cases of public servants then exemption under section 24(4) of the RTI Act can not be taken advantage of," Justice K Chandru said.

 

He dismissed two writ petitions filed by the SP, Central Range Office of DVAC challenging two orders issued by the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission (SIC) in September and October last year directing that certain information sought for by two individuals be furnished to them.

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sidmis

DVAC moves HC again for exemption from RTI Act :mad:

As reported by Jeeva, © TNN, Mar 2, 2010

 

CHENNAI: A city-based right to information (RTI) activist's year-long struggle to get information from the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) is yet to to see the light of the day.

 

While the State Information Commission as well as the Madras High Court have, separately, directed the DVAC to provide the information sought for by the applicant, V Madhav of Porur, the agency chose to move the High Court for a second time seeking complete exemption from the purview of the RTI Act.

 

The RTI applicant, during October 2008, wanted the agency to provide him with the number of investigations completed, the number of accused (in DVAC cases) convicted from 2003-04 to 2007-08, their names and designation and a brief description of the charges. The DVAC rejected his RTI application saying that the state government had in August 2008 exempted the agency from the purview of the Act.

 

The applicant then challenged it before the State Information Commission which in September last year ruled in his favour. The DVAC had to give the information since all the details sought for by the applicant were basically about cases where investigation was completed and related to post-facto information after conviction, the commission had said then.

 

Aggrieved over the ruling, the DVAC went on appeal to the High Court

where a single judge bench on January 12 this year endorsed the commission's views and held that the DVAC as per the provisions of the RTI Act was bound to furnish the information and could not claim for a blanket exemption under the pretext of the government order.

 

However, the DVAC seems to be determined to continue its legal battle so as to avoid coming under the purview of the RTI Act.

 

During last week, the agency filed its appeal again praying to the High Court to set aside its judgement delivered in January. In the present appeal, the DVAC argued that furnishing the information sought by the applicant, would affect the parties involved in either criminal cases or departmental proceedings. It would also affect the intelligence gathered and information maintained by the agency, the agency claimed.

 

The appeal is expected to come up for hearing in a week. The DVAC's move gains significance since the state government had come in for strong criticism from RTI activists and groups when it had granted exemption to the DVAC and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi himself came out with a statement saying that the government had not given complete exemption to the DVAC.

 

DVAC moves HC again for exemption from RTI Act - Chennai - City - The Times of India

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karira

As reported by Jeeva in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 18 January 2011:

Info panel says DVAC not out of RTI ambit - The Times of India

 

Info panel says DVAC not out of RTI ambit

 

CHENNAI: The Directorate of Vigilance of Anti-Corruption (DVAC), which has been claiming exemption from the Right To Information Act for over two years, has now been ordered to furnish details pertaining to the fate of a case in which a sub-inspector of police in Thirumangalam who was caught red-handed while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 from a private bus driver in 2008.

 

The Tamil Nadu Information Commission passed the order on an appeal from the driver G Balaji of Padikuppam Road in Thirumangalam -- to whom the DVAC had earlier refused to furnish the information, claiming that the investigation agency was exempted under the RTI Act, vide a State government order, dated August 26, 2009.

 

"Though exemption is given under a government order, section 24(4) of the RTI Act says information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human right violations shall not be excluded (from being disclosed). Since the petitioner is a party in the case, he has full right to know the fate of the corruption case," information commissioner T Srinivasan said in his order.

 

"Also section 8(1)(h) of the Act, under which information that would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders, would not be attracted as the investigation of the corruption case is already over and the final orders were issued as stated by the public information officer of the DVAC," the commissioner held.

 

According to Balaji, there was a quarrel between him and a car driver on January 24, 2008, when he was driving the bus on Inner Ring Road as the car driver tried to overtake him from the wrong side. At one stage, the wordy duel turned into a physical clash and the car driver assaulted him. But the car driver later lodged a false complaint with the police that Balaji had snatched his gold chain, following which Balaji moved the court and obtained anticipatory bail. The court, as a bail condition, had directed him to appear at Thirumangalam police station daily in the morning.

 

Balaji further said when he had gone to the police station, the sub-inspector had asked him to give him a bribe of Rs 10,000 so that he could arrange for a compromise, otherwise, he would book him in some other case where he could not get bail from the court. Determined to expose the corrupt practice of the police official, Balaji later complained it to the DVAC, following which the agency laid a trap and arrested the SI while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 from him.

 

In October 2008, Balaji filed an RTI application with the DVAC, seeking to know the fate of the case. As he was not given the details even after he had filed his first appeal with the appellate authority, he moved the information commission with a second appeal.

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karira

As reported by K. T. SANGAMESWARAN in thehindu.com on 15 April 2011:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article1697226.ece

 

Order directing the DVAC to furnish information sought under RTI Act upheld

 

In an increasingly knowledge-based society, information and access to information hold the key to resources, benefits and distribution of power. Information, more than any other element, is of critical importance in a participatory democracy.

 

A Division Bench, comprising Justices D. Murugesan and K.K. Sasidharan made the observation in its judgment while upholding a single Judge's order directing the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) to furnish the information sought by two persons and, failing which, face action by the Tamil Nadu State Information Commission (TNSIC.)

 

The Bench observed: “It is only when people know how the government is functioning they can fulfil the role which democracy (has) assigned to them and make democracy a really effective participatory democracy. Right to information is basic to any democracy.”

 

The duo had filed applications under the RTI Act seeking particulars regarding the number of investigations completed, details of persons convicted in four years from 2003-2004, post held by them, charges framed and recommendations made to the Vigilance Commissioner after investigation.

 

They also wanted to know how many police officers were caught during raids, their names, designation and address, amount recovered from each officer and details of departmental action against them.

 

As the particulars were not furnished, they preferred an appeal before the Appellate Authority, which also did not furnish the information.

 

The reason for not giving the information was that the RTI Act would not apply to DVAC as per a G.O. dated August 26, 2008.

 

The applicants approached the TNSIC, which directed the public authority to furnish the information sought by the applicants.

 

The TNSIC's order was challenged by the Superintendent of Police (SP), Central Range, DVAC, in writ petitions. By a common order of January 12, 2010, a single judge dismissed the petitions. Hence, the present appeals by the SP.

 

The government contended that as the High Court had upheld the validity of the G.O, the Chief Information Commissioner should not have given a direction that the information be furnished.

 

The Bench said that in terms of Section 24 (4) of RTI Act, the State government was empowered to notify that nothing contained in the Act would apply to such intelligence and security organisation, being organisations established by the government.

 

But, the power to exempt from the law was not available to the State government even in case of intelligence and security organisations in respect of information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations. The application of the notification depended on the nature of information required. As the particulars sought by the applicants related to corruption, the G.O. had no application to the facts of the case.

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lissing perme

@ Kariraji!! sir,looking for your kind help/consideration by attesting the decision of TNSIC and High court ruling in this regard.

Thank's

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lissing perme

Sir if possible pliz!!! atteched the judgment copy of Division Bench.

Thank's.

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