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Police personnel cannot be appointed as Jail Superintendents: High Court of Uttarakhand

The purpose of Police is very different from that of Jail Superintendents and as a natural corollary, their training and psyche are poles apart. Hence the former can’t take the position of the latter. This was decided in the case of Sanjeev Kumar Akash v. State of Uttarakhand & Ors [WRIT PETITION PIL No.25 of 2020] by Chief Justice Sri Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma in High Court of Uttarakhand.

The facts of the case are that the State Government considering the vacancy in the positions and the difficulty in running the jails properly gave the additional charge of the office of the Senior Superintendent to the officers of the Police department on an ad hoc basis in a jail in Sitarganj. This according to the petitioner is against the Uttar Pradesh Jail (Group A and B) Service Rules, 1982. Hence, a Public Interest Litigation was filed before the Court.

The petitioner contended that the training and the psychology of the police personnel and the prison personnel are poles apart. So, to confuse these two classes would be violative of fundamental philosophy. Secondly, Rule 3(k) of Uttar Pradesh Jail (Group A and B) Service Rules, 1982 defines the post of Superintendent, District Jail to mean “the whole time
Superintendent”. On the other hand, the respondent contended that the post of the Inspector general of prisons is occupied by the IPS so that gives way to the police officer to be appointed as a superintendent.

After analyzing the facts and the contentions by both the parties, the Court specifically considered Rule 75(2) of the Nelson Mandela Rules which states that “before entering on duty, all prison staff shall be provided with training tailored to their general and specific duties, which shall be reflective of contemporary evidence-based best practice in penal sciences.

The Court referred to the Uttar Pradesh Jail (Group A and B) Service Rules, 1982 and said that A bare perusal of these Rules of 1982 clearly reveals that the post of Superintendent of Jail necessarily has to be filled up either by direct recruitment (fifty percent), or by promotion (fifty percent). The Rules do not permit an ad-hoc appointment from any other service, much less the police service. Therefore, the post can be filled up either directly from candidates from the open market, or from the post of Deputy Superintendents/Jailors having a work experience of minimum of five years.

Furthermore, it said that “It is a settled position of law that once a procedure has been established by law, it cannot be circumvented from. Therefore, merely because the post of Inspector General of Prisons, and Additional Inspector General of Prisons can be filled up from persons belonging to the IPS cadre, it does not empower the State to fill up the post of the lower echelons by posting police personnel or the post of Senior Superintendent/Superintendent of Jail.” Hence, it was held that the appointment of the police personnel, by the impugned orders, is clearly illegal.

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