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Minister holds back DGP's order

Punjab director general of police (DGP), prisons, Shashi Kant is again at loggerheads with the state prisons minister over prisons reforms and the drug menace in jails.

chandigarh Updated: May 09, 2012 13:27 IST
Prabhjit Singh
Prabhjit Singh
Hindustan Times

Punjab director general of police (DGP), prisons, Shashi Kant is again at loggerheads with the state prisons minister over prisons reforms and the drug menace in jails.

Punjab jails minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur has held back Kant's order to transfer 100-odd wardens and head wardens on the suspicion of drug trafficking in jails across the state.

The move has coincided with the seizure of drugs from Batinda Central Jail warden Nachhattar Singh, that led to his arrest on May 5.

When contacted, Phillaur said he would take the final decision on the DGP's order after taking up the matter with the chief minister. When asked about the reason for withholding the order, the minister replied, "He (DGP) is a controversial man. There are certain matters that need to be reviewed in totality."

Highly-placed sources told HT that the minister had written a noting before leaving for abroad last month that no jail personnel would be transferred 'under any circumstances' without his permission.

Phillaur said the jail warden's arrest showed that reforms were taking place in jails. However, it was the DGP (prisons) who had directed the Bathinda jail superintendent to lodge an FIR against Nachhattar. A huge cache of drugs had been seized from the latter's possession.

Differences between the DGP (prisons) and the new prisons minister had surfaced when Kant had shot off a letter expressing dissent over the minister's noting regarding the transfer of jail personnel.

Kant had stated that the jails department had the authority to transfer wardens and assistant superintendents of jails, while the home department had the powers to shift or transfer officers of the rank of deputy superintendent and superintendent of jails.

It is learnt that a high-level prison reforms committee of the Punjab and Haryana high court, headed by justice TPS Mann (retd), had sought a report from the state home department on the recent developments related to the reforms to review reforms being undertaken in jails in the two states.

When contacted, Kant said he was on medical leave, while confirming that he had ordered the transfer of 100 wardens, which was 'in processing'. He, however, refused to give reasons for the delay in implementation of his order.

Kant had earlier locked horns with previous prisons minister Gulzar Singh Ranike over jail reforms, saying that lack of political will was an obstacle to curbing drug menace in jails and use of cell phones by prisoners.

Drugs in prison
Bathinda Central Jail warden Nachhattar Singh was arrested on May 5 under sections 22, 61 and 85 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act on the charges of possessing drugs and habit-forming tablets and selling these to prisoners.

The accused, presently in judicial remand, remained in police custody for only two days.

First Published: May 09, 2012 13:24 IST