The Madras High Court bench here has flayed the officials of Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) after at least five cases were filed within one month indicating that the quality control inspectors failed to send samples of hulled rice for analysis on time consistently.
In his order, Justice N. Kirubakaran issued a direction to the TNCSC Managing Director and Secretary, Food and Cooperation, to initiate proceedings against the officials who sent samples for analysis belatedly in the past five years.
The judge issued the direction while hearing the case of P. Thavakkal Batcha, an authorised hulling agent from Thanjavur, who challenged a show cause notice issued by the Thanjavur senior regional manager of the Civil Services Corporation threatening to blacklist him from continuing the service as ‘musty smell, low moisture and mixing of old rice’ were found in the samples of the processed rice he delivered at the storage point.
Mr. Batcha claimed he was supplied 485 tonnes of paddy by TNCSC on May 2013 for hulling in his mill, out of which 337 tonnes of the processed rice were delivered at the storage point on June 7. Samples of the processed rice were sent to the regional laboratory for analysis on June 10. The Manual on Processing of Paddy mandated that the quality control staff should send samples of processed rice to the regional laboratory for analysis from the delivery point within 24 hours of the delivery of the processed rice, petitioner’s counsel J. Karl Jacob pointed out. However, in Mr. Batcha’s case, the officials sent the samples for analysis three days after they were delivered. The show cause notice should be quashed because the analysis would not have yielded the correct result, he contended.
Justice Kirubakaran, in his order observed that he had quashed at least five show cause notices issued by the officials in similar cases in one month. “It is seen that in a number of cases, the samples were sent by the quality control inspectors contrary to Clause 25 of Chapter 4 of the Manual on Processing of Paddy. This court has got every reason to suspect the motive of the quality control inspectors who are deliberately sending the samples belatedly to help a few persons,” the judge noted.
If the officials continue to violate the procedures deliberately, it will go against the interests of the public and officials who cheat should be dealt with firmly, he added.
The judge quashed the show cause notice issued against the petitioner, but noted that the court did not certify that the petitioner was innocent. “The impugned order is quashed only for violation of procedure by the officials,” Justice Kirubakaran observed.