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There Exists Vast Difference in Philosophy That Permeates Police Administration and Jail Administration: Uttarakhand High Court

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The petitioner, in this case, filed a Public Interest Litigation against the decision of the Uttarakhand State Government to give additional charge of Senior Superintendent of Jail and Superintendent of Jail to the Indian Police Officers


According to the structure of the Department of Prison in the State of Uttarakhand, there are three sanctioned posts of Senior Superintendent of Jail, and nine sanctioned posts of Superintendent of Jail. Four out of the nine sanctioned posts of Superintendent of Jail are supposed to be filled by direct recruitment and the remaining five post by promotion. Currently, four posts of the Superintendent of Jail and one post of Senior Superintendent of Jail have been filled up. Five posts of Superintendent of Jail and two posts of Senior Superintendent of Jail are still vacant. Due to the difficulties faced in running jails properly, the State Government decided to give additional charge of Senior Superintendent of Jail and Superintendent of Jail to the Indian Police Officers. 


The Counsel for the petitioner argued that the training and job responsibility of the Police officers stand different from those of Officers of Jail Administration. The duty of the police officers includes investigation, maintenance, prevention, and protection of the law and order. With the changes in emerging modern trends in penology, the fundamental duty of the officers of the Department of Jail is the protection and rehabilitation of the prisoners. The counsel also contended that a Police officer generally views an offender as a culprit who has committed a crime and deserves to be punished. Whereas, officers of the Department of Jail consider an offender to be a human being who needs to be rehabilitated and make them productive members of society. Therefore, the 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 and cannot be confused with each other. The counsel emphasised the Nelson Mandela Rules which prescribes “good principles and practice in the treatment of prisoners and prison management.” The counsel also stressed the need for appointing the Senior Superintendent/Superintendent of Jail on a full-time basis, rather than on a part-time basis.

On the other hand, the Counsel for the State contended that as per the order issued by the Principal Secretary, Uttaranchal Administration it was clearly mentioned that the Inspector General of Prisons would either be the Secretary, Home, or IAS officers or of equivalent to posts. Considering the vacant posts of the Senior Superintendent of Jail and Superintendent of Jail, and the fact that direct recruitment to these posts would require some time 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/Superintendent of Jail, the counsel argued that the State is justified in making Police Officers in charge of these two posts on a temporary basis. 

Court’s Observation

The court stated that the purpose of the Police is not to reform, or to rehabilitate, but to prevent the occurrence of crime, and to punish the criminals. There exists a vast difference in the philosophy that permeates the police administration, and the jail administration. The very training of police personnel is carried out with a different purpose in mind, and with different goals prescribed by law. The Committee recommendations and the Nelson Rules emphasize the need for carefully selecting the prison personnel, for providing rigorous training, both before they joined the service, and of the appointment being a full-time, regular appointment. It is only when these factors are inculcated in the prison administration that the prison system succeeds in protecting, reforming, and rehabilitating the prisoners. Since India is a member of the United Nations, these Rules are equally binding on the country. Therefore, neither the rules, nor the recommendations of the various Committees, and the letters issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Government of India can be ignored by the State.

Court’s Decision

The court stated that a bare perusal of the Rules of 1982 clearly reveals that the post of Superintendent of Jail necessarily has to be filled up either by direct or promotion. 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 possessing a work experience of a minimum of five years. Hence, the appointment of the police personnel, by the impugned orders, is illegal. 

The court also stated that although the counsel for the State has tried to support the impugned orders appear on the ground that the Inspector General of Prisons and the Additional Inspector General of Prisons can be appointed from the IPS cadre, the said argument is clearly untenable. The order passed by the Secretary, Department of Home, Inspector General of Prisons were therefore set aside. The State was directed to immediately fill up the posts of Senior Superintendent and Superintendent of Jail either through direct recruitment or through promotion. 

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