Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An accountability law

The MMRDA has revoked the Adarsh society's occupation certificate, and the society has replied that it was built after obtaining all required permissions, and will go to court against the revocation. The episode follows a common pattern: permits are provided by corrupt officials in contravention of norms; at some point, the issue becomes public knowledge thanks to activists and investigative reporters; then, the administration reverses the permission with a stroke of the pen, harming a number of people who were not part of any underhand deals.
I recall a few years ago, most taxis in the city had switched to horrid smoke-spewing three cylinder engines; after a PIL, the administration decided all these retrofitted engines were illegal and would have to be junked. Many taxi drivers who had followed a trend presuming it was legal were saddled with unbearable costs. The permits they had received were suddenly useless. The people who issued those permits suffered no adverse consequences.
Should there not be an accountability mechanism in place for such incidents? Perhaps we need a law stating that permits once given cannot be cancelled UNLESS action is taken against officials responsible for handing out those permissions in the first place. And the action against bureaucrats can't be mere suspension, for many of the culprits retire to lives of luxury before their misdeeds come to light.
If there are any lawyers reading this, I'd like to know if it's theoretically possible to develop a provision of this sort. Could we have a requirement, for example, that an FIR be filed simultaneously with any such revocation of permit?

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