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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Delhi: Court sets aside magistrate’s order asking undertrial prisoners to pay Rs 10 lakh as salary of escort staff

Additional Sessions Judge Parveen Singh passed the order on Tuesday (October 26) stating that the magistrate had no power to pass such an order for the enforcement of this demand to pay the salaries of the escort staff.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
Updated: October 28, 2021 1:11:29 pm
The accused in this case were accused of misappropriation of money and are now facing trial in a cheating case registered at Barakhamba Road police station in 2018. (Representational)

A Delhi court recently set aside a metropolitan magistrate’s order which dismissed a couple’s plea saying that they do not want to pay Rs 10 lakh in salary to their escort party while they were out on parole in a cheating case.

Additional Sessions Judge Parveen Singh passed the order on Tuesday (October 26) stating that the magistrate had no power to pass such an order for the enforcement of this demand to pay the salaries of the escort staff.

The accused in this case were accused of misappropriation of money and are now facing trial in a cheating case registered at Barakhamba Road police station in 2018.

The couple has been in judicial custody for the last 25 months. On January 17, 2020, they were granted custody parole for seven days by a magistrate’s court which was later extended till January 31, 2020.

The revisionists submitted that they bore all the expenses of the escort staff such as food, lodging and travelling. However, the magistrate had not “mentioned a single word about the salary of the escorting staff” as the Third Battalion had sent a demand letter to pay Rs 10,64,055 as salary for the escort party.

The petitioners submitted that they “had not taken any escort party in their private capacity and the same was assigned to them as per the direction of the jail superintendent and that at the time of appointing the escort staff, the jail authority had not whispered about the salaries of the escort staff.”

The respondents had filed a complaint letter which was allowed by the metropolitan magistrate in an order passed on August 12, 2021, which was challenged by the couple stating that the order is “incorrect, illegal and contrary to law.”

The counsels for the revisionists argued that there was “no stipulation with regard to payment of salary of security guards during the time of custody parole of the revisionists”.

The state, on the other hand, opposed the petition arguing that a Delhi government notification “clearly stipulates the amount which is to be charged in case of providing guards and the charges have been levied as per those instructions.”

The court after perusing the Delhi government notification “reflects that it is in respect of additional police being provided to private persons or to commercial establishments or for other duties of the nature as provided in section 39 and 40 of Delhi Police Act.”

“Thus it becomes very clear that this notification does not refer to the duties of the police during the custody parole and does not make such duties chargeable,” the court said.

“I find that the charges, which have been levied in the name of other expenses and demanded from the revisionists, could not have been demanded,” the court said.

“Even otherwise, if at all respondent no. 3 (ACP/ADJ, Dy. Commissioner of Police 3rd Battalion, DAP, New Delhi) raised such a demand, the magistrate had no powers to pass any order for enforcement of such demand and the remedy which is available with the respondent no. 3 was civil in nature and the MM while directing the revisionists to comply with this demand acted beyond his jurisdiction. I accordingly find that the order of the trial court cannot be sustained,” the court ordered.

In this case, the couple was granted custody parole and not regular bail. Hence, they were provided with an escort party as a parole condition by the magistrate.

A security escort is given to an inmate by the jail authorities to make sure that the person is secure and that he does not indulge in any wrongful activity.

As per the Delhi Prison Rules, a prisoner, in case of being granted custody parole, is only liable to pay for the cost of transportation and no other liability for payment of salary in lieu of guards being deployed
can be charged, the court said.

As per the instructions of Delhi government, they are charging Rs 2,347 for each ASI, Rs 1,499 for
each head constable and Rs 1,465 for each constable for a five-hour shift in the day and four-hour shift in the night.

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