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Police personnel cannot be appointed as jail Superintendents: Uttarakhand High Court

The purpose of the Police is not to reform, or to rehabilitate, but to prevent the occurrence of crime, and to punish the criminals. Therefore, the very training of police personnel is carried out with a different purpose in mind, and with different goals prescribed by law. The judgment was passed by The High Court of Uttarakhand in the case of Sanjeev Kumar Akash vs the State of Uttarakhand and others [Writ Petition (PIL) No. 25 of 2021] by a single bench consisting of Justice Sri Raghvendra Singh Chauhan.

The facts of the case are that, out of the nine sanctioned posts of Superintendent of Jail, four posts are to be filled up by way of direct recruitment, and five posts are to be filled up by way of promotion from the post of Jailor. Presently, one post of Senior Superintendent of Jail, and four posts of Superintendent of Jail, have been filled up. According to the State Government, considering the difficulties faced in running the Jails properly, it has taken a conscious decision to give additional charge to the Senior Superintendent of Jail. Hence, the present Public Interest Litigation before this Court.

Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioner that the duty of the Police Officers is preventive and penal, and spans the arena of investigation, prevention and protection, and maintenance of law and order. On the other hand, with the emerging modern trends in penology and theories of punishment, the fundamental duty of the Officers of the Department of Jail is the protection, the reformation, and the rehabilitation of the prisoners. Thus, the very philosophy behind the interaction between a Police Officer and an offender, and the interaction between a Jail Officer and the prisoner, stand on a different footing. Therefore, one cannot be confused with the other.

Learned counsel on the corollary the fact that presently there are two posts of Senior Superintendent of Jail, and five posts of Superintendent of Jail, which is lying vacant, considering the fact that direct recruitment to these posts would require some time, considering the fact that there is no one in the post of Jailors, who has completed five years of required service for being promoted to the post of Senior Superintendent of Jail, the State is justified in making Police Officers in charge of these two posts on a temporary basis.

The Court while referring to the Uttar Pradesh Jail Service Rules, 1982, “the post of Superintendent of District Jail is to be filled up fifty per cent by direct recruitment, and fifty per cent by promotion from amongst the regularly appointed Deputy Superintendents/Jailors with a minimum of five years’ service as Deputy Superintendents, or Jailors or both. Moreover, Rule 14 deals with the determination of vacancies. Rule 15 deals with the procedure for direct recruitment. Rule 16 deals with the “procedure for recruitment by promotion to the post of Superintendent, District Jail.”

While allowing the petition, the Bench has taken note of the United Nations has issued “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, better known as the Nelson Mandela Rules. These Rules, inter alia, provide for careful selection of every grade of the personnel; integrity, humanity, professional capacity, and personal suitability for the work that the proper administration of prisons depends; appointment of prison personnel on a full-time basis; It specifically referred to Rule 75(2) 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.” Since India is a member of the United Nations, these Rules are equally binding on the country and they cannot be ignored, observed the Court.

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