Madras High Court observed that a large-scale of constables and head constables in the prison as well as police department are being used by higher officials for their personal and residential works. The court directed the home department to issue a circular with necessary instructions to prevent the practice.
Justice SM Subramaniam said that using public servants for personal works is a violation of the rules and will eventually lead to indiscipline in uniformed services.
“By virtue of the higher position, subordinate officials are unable to refuse such services. When higher officials misuse the service of public servants, they cannot expect work discipline or good conduct from the subordinates. They too try to take advantage of the weaknesses of the higher officials or they make an attempt to please these officials.”
The plea against the use of public servants for personal works was filed by P Vadivel, a grade-II warden, posted at Trichy central prison in 2013. He was transferred to Karur central prison in the year 2018, but he did not vacate his official quarters in Trichy. The department imposed penal rent on him. He challenged the imposition of the penalty and filed a petition before Madurai bench of Madras High Court.
The court warned of initiating actions against those higher officials who are violating the rules of the department.
“If any such complaint or information is received, the department is bound to initiate all further actions against those higher officials in order to maintain discipline and decorum amongst the uniformed service personnel.”
The lawyer representing Vadivel submitted that Vadivel continued to stay at his official quarters only after he was granted an oral permission by the superintendent of prisons at Trichy. He was performing the duties of a driver for the superintendent of prisons at Trichy.
However, the state contended that the duties assigned to the petitioner at Trichy prison could not be used to justify his retention of official quarters. He didn’t vacate the quarters until 2019, he should have vacated the quarters within a month of his transfer. He failed to vacate the quarter, therefore, a penal rent was imposed on him in accordance with the current rules.
Justice S M Subramaniam said that the official quarters that are provided to the government servants are only for the purpose of effective performance of public duty in a particular station.
The judge dismissed the petition by saying that the temporary duties assigned by the superintendent of prisons are of no avail for exonerating the petitioner from the payment of rent.