The District Collector of Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu caught the attention of the English-language press when he acted quickly on a call for help from a 15-year-old schoolgirl. He sent a team to the venue and stopped her marriage moments before it was to take place. Alumni of N.L.S.I.U. posted the link to the Times of India story (September 6) on Facebook, and happy chatter ensued about the official in question: Arun Roy, a 2002 graduate from the Bangalore law school. The man himself was not overly excited. “It is an everyday occurrence here“, he laughed over the phone as he agreed to answer my questions.
Before taking office in Krishnagiri in June this year, Roy served as Deputy Secretary and as Under Secretary in the Finance Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. During that time, he also served as a Director (Finance) at several P.S.U.s, including the Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation, the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation, Tamil Nadu Cements Limited, Pallavan Grama Bank, and the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation.
As Collector, he is the chief executive of the district and the nodal person responsible for governance in the district. He implements the development schemes of state and central governments in the district, including the N.R.E.G.S., the public distribution system, and the social security pensions and other welfare schemes.
“A good part of my work is also regulatory, which is nothing but the interpretation and application of various laws, which is much easier for a law student when compared to others,” he said. The Collector is the ‘District Magistrate’ under the Criminal Procedure Code, and is responsible for the law and order of the district. He is also responsible for the implementation of various regulations relating to essential commodities, mining, dowry prohibition, child marriage, pollution, public nuisance, public health, road transport, and the protection of senior citizens. He also has powers of preventive detention under various Acts, such as the National Security Act and the Goondas Act.
Arun said he imbibed two important values from law school life, and those were not from the classroom. “The first is tolerance and sensitivity, which has helped me handle difficult situations and difficult people. There is also the art of talking a lot without conveying and committing anything, which we all learn in law school! That has always helped me in tricky situations like law and order problems!”
He remembers Dr. V.S. Elizabeth, who taught him History at law school, very fondly. “It has nothing got to do with her classes. She has given me a lot of food in her house. And I always loved making fun of her and I still do.”
“The essence of good administration is to take the right decision at the right time, and this requires a lot of common sense more than anything else. Since law is nothing but common sense, my lack of common sense was to an extent made up for by a knowledge of law.” By this time, I can’t decide if he is joking or being humble. A little later, he tells me that he used the free time in his fifth year of law school to prepare for the Union Public Service Commission examinations. “I used some postal notes also but did not go to any coaching institute. The internet and the Law School library were sufficient for obtaining the necessary study material.”
The shining armour rests easy on this District Collector.
(Aju John is part of the faculty on myLaw.net.)