Chandigarh, May 18
The appointment of seven BSF deputy commandants as superintendents, central jails, Punjab, has been quashed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court after holding that the appointment order was passed in gross violation of the relevant rule.
Justice Mahabir Singh Sindhu of the High Court also ruled that the decision taken in June 25, 2018, meeting headed by the then Chief Minister was neither an “executive decision of the state”, nor an amendment of the Punjab Prisons State Service (Class-I) Rules, 1979. It could rather be termed as an “onslaught against the rule of law”. It was decided in the meeting to fill up the vacant posts from the Punjab police and on deputation basis from the Central Para-Military forces to enhance and strengthen the security of jails.
Justice Sindhu asserted seven out of nine central jails as on today were headed by the officers from the BSF without any legal provision to that effect. As such, the entire cadre of superintendents, central jails, had been handed over to “total strangers”.
The ruling by Justice Sindhu came on a petition filed against the State of Punjab and other respondents by Baljit Singh and other petitioners through counsel Gauravjit Singh Patwalia. They had, among other things, sought the quashing of the impugned order dated October 9, 2020, whereby seven respondents were appointed as superintendents against vacant posts on deputation basis for three years.
Justice Sindhu asserted the appointment to the posts was governed under the rules of 1979, which were statutory in nature and, thus, binding on all concerned, including the government. There was no provision under the rules for appointment to the posts by way of deputation or on transfer basis. As such, the impugned order was passed in gross violation of the rule.
Justice Sindhu also observed all the petitioners — members of the Punjab Prisons Service, Class-II — were working with the prisons service in different capacities for the last more than 24 years. Undisputedly, the service was considered part and parcel of the criminal justice system. It would, as such, not be appropriate for the court to close its eyes and deny adjudication of the matter only on the technical plea of locus standi.
“After comparison of both the services — the prisons service vis-à-vis BSF, there is no resemblance of duties and responsibilities with each other and as such, the post of deputy commandant cannot be said analogous to the post of superintendent, central jail. The petitioners have shown sufficient interest in the subject matter; thus, rightly assailed the legality and validity of the impugned order while invoking the jurisdiction of this court under Article 226 of the Constitution. In case the impugned order goes unchecked, it would be travesty of justice,” the Bench added.
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