A State-wide surprise check by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) has revealed that the tenets of the Right to Services Act are barely observed in most village offices in the State.
Code-named “Operation Monsoon Lightning,” the anti-corruption drive targeted 84 village offices where public service delivery was found wanting.
To circumvent the law, that makes government officials legally liable if they did not act on petitions in the prescribed time, scores of village offices stocked requests for various services haphazardly and without entering the date of receiving the application and their subject matter in office registers.
Processing of application
Anti-corruption enforcers also discerned a deliberate delay in the processing of applications from the public for various certificates and services to promote a culture of graft in village offices.
In many offices, the Vigilance found that village officers had not quantified monsoon-related crop and property damage and issued certificates to the affected citizens, including farmers, seeking State compensation.
Village officers often tended to issue no-objection certificates and land mutation documents without making a corresponding entry in the respective application register.
Investigators found that over 700 applications had not been processed though the deadline prescribed in the Right to Service Act had long expired. In many offices, there were no boards to sensitise citizens to the rights guaranteed to them under the Act.
In Malappuram and Pathanamthitta districts, the Vigilance found excess cash in possession of village officers. An officer in Malappuram abandoned a wallet containing Rs. 7,450 and decamped on seeing the Vigilance. Officers rarely maintained or made entries in the daily cash declaration or movement registers. Many village officers were absent from the seats at the time of the inspection.
The agency commended the Karakulam village office in Thiruvananthapuram for its flawless functioning and said it was a model for the entire State.
Director of VACB Muhammad Yasin supervised the surprise inspections.
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