On Monday, the High Court of Uttarakhand set aside the orders issued by both the secretary home and IG Prisons which gave additional charge of the Senior Superintendent and Superintendent of Jails to Police Officers who are also tasked with maintaining law & order.
The bench of Chief Justice RS Chauhan & justice Alok Kumar Verma has also directed the state government to immediately fill up these posts “either through direct recruitment or through promotion”. It said since rules allow ad-hoc promotions as temporary measures, it “may be granted by the state till regular promotions are made”. The entire exercise, it said, should be completed preferably within a month.
The directions came as the court was hearing a PIL challenging the decisions. It had challenged the two orders issued by home secretary Nitesh Kumar Jha which gave additional charge to the police officers as well as the order issued by IG (Prison),AP Anshuman, that directed officers to take charge of their posts.
The petition had said the move “effectively blurs the line between the jails & the police department which are meant to be separate.” As per petitioners, “handing over the charge of prisons to the police department goes against the fundamental principle of free & fair trial as an extra-judicial pressure might be put on the accused by the police department since they will be probing the case & handling judicial custody too.”
While setting aside the orders, the court held that they go against the ‘Nelson Mandela Rules’ issued by UN & recommendations of various committees.