Read Order: P Vadivel vs. Deputy Inspector General of Prisons & Ors. 

Pankaj Bajpai

Chennai, March 2, 2022: Noticing that there have been large scale allegations in the Prison Department as well as in the Police Department that the Constables and Head Constables are abused by the higher officials even for their residential works and personal works, the Madras High Court has opined that the superior officials are expected to exercise restraint and once an employee is transferred from one place to the other place, they are not supposed to utilize the service of those employees for their personal convenience or on extraneous grounds. 

The facilities provided to the higher officials can be utilized only in the manner provided under the Rules and excess usage of Government employees for the personal works can never be approved, but it is an actionable irregularity committed by the higher officials of the Police Department or the Prison Department, observed the Single Judge S.M Subramaniam while hearing a case of recovery of penal rent by the Superintendent of Prison from a Warder of Central Prison, Trichy for continuing in the official quarters. 

Going by the background of the case, P Vadivel (Petitioner) was appointed as Grade-II Warder in 2013 and posted at the Central Prison, Trichy. He was working till 2018 in the Central Prison, Trichy and thereafter, he was transferred to the Sub Jail, Karur. Pursuant to the oral permission granted by the Superintendent of Prison (second respondent), the petitioner was continued for three months in the official quarters where he was serving as the driver for the second respondent. 

It was therefore submitted that the petitioner had acted as per the instructions of the second respondent and thus, had not committed any irregularity in the matter of continuing in the official quarters. 

Opposing the arguments, the Government Advocate stated that admittedly, the petitioner was transferred from the Central Prison, Trichy to the Sub Jail, Karur and he was relieved from the Central Prison, Trichy and joined in Sub Jail, Karur. Therefore, certain temporary duties given in the Central Prison, Trichy, couldnot be a ground for the petitioner to retain the official quarters allotted to him in Trichy. 

On transfer, the counsel submitted that the petitioner ought to have vacated the official quarters within a period of one month and admittedly, the petitioner had not vacated the quarters and vacated the same only in the year 2019. Thus, penal rent as per the Rules in force had been imposed on the petitioner. 

After considering the submissions, Justice Subramaniam opined that any employee, who is transferred, is not eligible to retain the official quarters allotted to him beyond the period stipulated. 

In the present case, one month period is contemplated for vacating the quarters, however, the petitioner has not vacated and handed over the quarters within the stipulated period, and thus, temporary duties assigned by the second respondent are of no avail for exonerating the petitioner from the payment of penal rent as per the Rules in force, added the Single Judge. 

Justice Subramaniam highlighted that the Inspector General of Prisons, in this regard, has to initiate all appropriate steps to ensure that the prison officials, namely, Superintendent of Prisons or the other higher officials are not utilizing the service of the public servants for their personal usage.

Accordingly, the High Court directed the Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department, to initiate all appropriate steps to issue necessary instructions by way of Circular to prevent the higher officials from using the public servants for their personal work in their residence or outside. 

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