April,24,2015: This could easily qualify as Delhi government's apathy of the worst kind, as Tihar Jail's Law Officer who represents prison authorities in courts, advises them and takes care of cases of nearly 13,500 inmates was made to run from pillar to post for promotion and increment for the past 19 years.
Slamming the Delhi government for challenging a Delhi High Court order in favour of Law Officer Sunil Gupta who also doubles up as PRO for Asia's largest and most congested prison, the Supreme Court last week directed it to create promotional avenues for him within four months.
A bench headed by Justice Vikramajit Sen also gave Gupta the liberty to come back to it for initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the government if it did not comply with the court order within the aforementioned period.
The Delhi High Court had said on November 16, 2011: "It is unfortunate that the petitioner who is a Law Officer in Tihar Jail and is defending the jail authorities in various legal cases has to knock on the doors of courts to seek justice for himself, especially when the government appreciates and understands his plight and the unfair treatment which has been meted out to him in grant of pay scales as well as non-promotion and though the government appreciated and recommended for not only providing proper promotional avenues but also suitable upgrade to higher pay scales; however, when it came to implementation thereof, the respondents failed utterly."
The high court had asked the chief secretary to implement his proposal that since there was no promotion avenues for the post of Law Officer, he may be treated on par with Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service Cadre by giving increments after eight years and 13 years of service but that was never done.
The Supreme Court said: "Even existence of an Assured Career Progression Scheme did not absolve the employer from creating a promotional post. The appeal of the government is dismissed."
Touching upon Gupta's workload, the high court had said: "Though there are 10 jails in the Tihar Complex, there is a singular person working as Law Officer managing the legal affairs of these jails. It is pointed out that Section 6 of the Delhi Prisons Act, 2000 stipulates that for every prison there has to be a Law Officer; on this basis, there should have been 10 Law Officers for 10 jails."
"However, as the petitioner is the only Law Officer, he is taking care of the legal problems pertaining to more than 10,000 prisoners as well as the prison headquarters in Delhi."