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Court orders promotional avenues for Tihar jail officer

Accepting the plea of Tihar jail’s law officer, the Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the Delhi government to create promotional avenues for him in the prison department.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw directed the government to create promotional posts for petitioner Sunil Gupta, the lone jail law officer, and suggested amendment to the recruitment rules in three month.

Allowing Gupta’s plea that he had not got any promotion or increment in his 15-year service as law officer, the bench said: “This court cannot direct how the rules are to be framed by the government but can direct to create promotional avenues.”

“We also direct the respondent (the government) to make proper amendments in the recruitment rules for the post of law officers in the prison department of Delhi government so that the law officer can get promotion and also the financial increments,” said the bench.

Expressing anguish over the discriminatory treatment meted out to Gupta, the Acting Chief Justice Sikri said that the officer was conferred with the president’s medal twice in 2003 and 2007 for his distinguished service but he was deprived of justice.

“It is unfortunate that Gupta as a law officer has defended the jail authority in various cases but now knocks the door of this court seeking justice for himself,” the bench said.

The court also accepted Gupta’s another plea that the Delhi government’s chief secretary in 2008 recommended a hike in his pay scale specifying that the government should fix the pay scale of Rs.10,000 for law officer who completed eight years in service and Rs.12,000 for the officer after 13 years of his service but the home ministry rejected it.

Directing the central government to consider afresh the 2008 recommendation for increase of his pay scale, the bench directed the government to consider the financial benefit for Gupta in two months.

The court was hearing Gupta’s plea against the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) which in August last year upheld the home ministry’s decision.

In his plea, Gupta said out of 30 years of his total service in the jail department, he was appointed as law officer in 1996 but not a single promotion or increment had been given to him.

Gupta’s counsel Sanjiv Sharma submitted that Justice A.N. Mulla committee in 1983, Justice Krishna Iyer committee in 1987 and Justice Santosh Duggal committee in 1997 in their reports on jail reforms recommended the creation of promotional avenues for the law officer’s post but nothing has been done so far.

The counsel also said that his client being the lone officer has to handle cases from various courts, statutory commissions besides liaisoning for the jail authorities and also replying to all right to information applications.

As per various committee recommendations, one law officer was required for each jail, but only one law officer has been handling cases of all the 10 jails in Tihar.


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