TAMIL NADU

Rights panel to target corrupt officials

VELLORE, AUG. 1. The Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission will soon be draw up a plan to expose corrupt Central and State government officials and facilitate recognition of the honest ones, Member, Justice S.Sambandham, said.

Talking to newspersons here, he said about 15 per cent of government officials were corrupt and accepted illegal gratification giving the excuse they had to bribe higher officials and politicians. "These officials will not be happy if politicians decide to be clean." Honest officials who worked with conscience should be honoured. The SHRC would channel ideas and efforts by the people and organisations interested in eliminating corruption, he said.

Mr. Sambandham wanted to know why the officials blocked government money reaching the targeted sections. He sought the cooperation of well-meaning persons and the press for the implementation of the plan, the details of which, he said he would disclosed in 15 days at a meeting organised by a non-governmental organisation in Coimbatore.

The SHRC took strong action against doctors who indulged in sale of kidneys, exploiting the poverty of handloom weavers. About 95 per cent of beggary among children at busy traffic junctions in Chennai was eliminated.

On the recommendation of the Commission, the government initiated several reforms in the administration of mental asylums in Ramanathapuram district following the Yerwadi asylum fire, in which about 25 inmates perished more than three years ago. The practice of handcuffing inmates too was stopped at the intervention of the Commission. Mentally-disturbed persons no longer roamed the Kanyakumari streets, thanks to the action taken by the Collector and Superintendent of Police of the district at the instance of the Commission.

More petitions received

The number of petitions received by the Commission multiplied following awareness programmes conducted in 14 districts.

The number of petitions, 700 in 1997 when the Commission was started, had gone up to 9,500 in 2003. The largest number was against the police and on custodial violence.

Given the constraints such as vacancies in the posts of chairperson and two members, the 5-member commission, now functioning only with two members, was disposing of as many petitions as possible.

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