Tamil Nadu

Madras High Court shocked to know a court employee embezzled ₹1.5 crore

Shocked to know a court employee at Pattukottai in Thanjavur district had misappropriated ₹1.5 crore from money deposited in motor accident claim cases, the Madras High Court got him arrested and constituted nodal officers, in the rank of District Judges, to inspect records of all motor accident claims tribunals in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Immediately after the fraud came to light, Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee also constituted a special Bench comprising Justices P.N. Prakash and Abdul Quddhose to put in place a "robust, fool proof and uniform" system to prevent such embezzlement. As a first step, the special bench has named the nodal officers for all 32 judicial districts in the State and also for Puducherry.

CBI court judge L.S. Sathiyamurthy and City Civil Court judge A.S. Hariharakumar have been named as the nodal officers for Chennai. The bench has requested the Board of Governors for Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy to conduct training programmes for all the nodal officers on identifying the anomalies in motor accident case records and setting them right.

The Bench also appointed insurance case expert N. Vijayaraghavan as an amicus curiae in the case. It recorded his submission that misappropriation of money happens because some insurance companies and transport corporations do not follow certain procedures while depositing money before the tribunals. In the result, the money does not reach the claimants and gets misappropriated.

In the Pattukottai incident too, a staff member of the third Additional district court in the district had embezzled ₹1.5 crore due to such non-adherence to procedures. He was able to cheat because the insurance companies and transport corporations had deposited money without mentioning the motor accident case numbers against which the money had to be credited.

An inquiry ordered by two Madras High Court judges, who held the portfolio of monitoring the district judiciary in Thanjavur district, revealed that the actual number of fixed deposit receipts lying in the court were not reflected in the ledgers. It was also found that several lakh rupees were lying in the civil court deposits without being invested in fixed deposits and thereby depriving claimants of their legitimate interest component.

Appalled at such irregularities, the portfolio judges referred the matter to the Chief Justice since the situation might not be different in other districts too. The Chief Justice, in turn, decided to find a solution to the whole problem through a judicial pronouncement and therefore ordered constitution of a special bench to deal with audit of motor accident case funds in all districts.

The special bench was also asked to look into the issue of lodging criminal complaints against recalcitrant officials and monitor the investigation in the matters till the filing of charge sheets.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2021 2:52:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-high-court-shocked-to-know-a-court-employee-embezzled-15-crore/article34919824.ece

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