Patna High Court: Ashutosh Kumar, J. dismissed a petition by the petitioner who contested orders of stoppage of his three annual increments.

The petitioner challenged the order passed by the Inspector General of Prisons and Correctional Services Bihar, Patna whereby the denied three annual increments with cumulative effect and was further directed to be given only the subsistence allowance during the period of suspension and nothing more but the period spent during suspension is to be treated for counting period for pensionary benefits. This order was affirmed and upheld by the Principal Secretary, Home Department (Jails), Government of Bihar, Patna. The petitioner was subjected to a departmental proceeding for the death of an undertrial prisoner, Rajmani Yadav who was assaulted Jageshwar Manjhi, a convicted prisoner in 2016 when the petitioner was on duty in jail at Saraswati Block as a Warder.

The allegation against the petitioner was that he had not checked all prisoners at the time of their entering the ward, because Manjhi brought a piece of brick concealed under a blanket with which he attacked the deceased/under trial prisoner. During the course of the disciplinary proceeding, Manjhi and another inmate of the same jail deposed that no checking was done by any of the policemen/warders on duty at the time of their entry in the ward.

The petitioner contested that as a single warder, he could not have possibly checked every inmate before entering the jail block. Had he attempted to do so, the process would have taken several hours and the jail gate would have been closed only in the midnight. This argument was rejected by the authorities in question on the ground that not even a single jail inmate was subjected to any scrutiny before entering the jail ward.

The Court, in this case, concluded that, “Considering the herculean task of checking every jail inmate before their entering their respective blocks, the petitioner has only been subjected to a punishment of stoppage of three increments with cumulative effect and nothing more than subsistence allowance being payable to him for the period of suspension.

The reason was that the conclusion of guilt arrived at by the authorities and the sentence imposed upon the petitioner was unreasonable or not based on the evidence on record. Though the disciplinary authority and appellate authority did not advert to the gargantuan task of a warder to check all the inmates, no interference can be required to be made with the order of the disciplinary authority as also the appellate authority. Finally, the petition was dismissed.[Sheoji Singh v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1281, decided on 02-08-2019]

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