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The doctrine of Pleasure is a common law rule. This doctrine has its origin in England.

The Doctrine of
Pleasure is a special prerogative of the British Crown. In England, a servant of the Crown holds office during
the pleasure of the Crown and he can be dismissed from the service of Crown at pleasure. The tenure of office
of a civil servant can be terminated at any time without assigning any cause. Even if there exists, any special
contract between the Crown and the civil servant concerned, the Crown is not bound by it. The civil servant is
liable to be dismissed without notice and they cannot claim damages for wrongful dismissal or immature
termination of service. The Crown is not bound by the any special contract between it and a civil servant, for
theory is that the Crown could not fetter its future executive action by entering into a contract in matters
concerning the welfare of the country. The justification for the rule is that the crown should not be bound to
continue in public service any person whose conduct is not satisfactory. This common law Doctrine hence in
England is based on Public Policy. The public policy is that a public servant whose continuance in office is not
or is against the public interest must be relieved of it.

Doctrine of Pleasure in India:


Doctrine of Pleasure under the Indian Constitution is also based on the same policy considerations as it existed
under the common law in England. Though doctrine of pleasure is accepted in India as it has developed in
England, it has not been completely accepted in India. This Doctrine of Pleasure is embodied in India in
Article 310(1).It reads as follows:
Tenure of office of persons serving the Union or a State:

(1) Except as expressly provided by this Constitution, every person who is a member of a defence service or of
a civil service of the Union or of an all India service or holds any post connected with defence or any civil post
under the Union, holds office during the pleasure of the President, and every person who is a member of a civil
service of a State or holds any civil post under a State holds office during the pleasure of the Governor of the
State.

This is the general rule which operates except as expressly provided by the Constitution. This means that the
Doctrine is subject to constitutional limitations. Therefore, when there is a specific provision in the
Constitution giving to servant tenure different from that provided in Article 310, then that servant would be
excluded from the operation of the pleasure doctrine.
The following are expressly excluded by the Constitution from the rule of Pleasure. They are:
1.

Supreme Court Judges Article 124,

2.

Auditor General (Article 148)

3.

High Court Judges Service (Article 217, 218)

4.

A member of Public Commission (Article 317)

5.

The Chief Election Commissioner.

Though doctrine of pleasure is accepted in India as it has developed in England, it has not been completely
accepted in India. It is subject to the provisions of Article 311 which provides for procedural safeguards for
civil servants.

Article 311 of the Constitution of India states that:


(1) No person who is a member of a civil service of the Union or an all-India service or a civil service of a
State or holds a civil post under the Union or a State shall be dismissed or removed by an authority subordinate
to that by which he was appointed.

(2) No such person as aforesaid shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in
which he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in
respect of those charges: Provided that where, it is proposed after such inquiry, to impose upon him any such
penalty, such penalty may be imposed on the basis of the evidence adduced during such inquiry and it shall not
be necessary to give such person any opportunity of making representation on the penalty proposed: Provided
further that this clause shall not apply
(a) where a person is dismissed or removed or reduced in rank on the ground of conduct which has led to his
conviction on a criminal charge; or
(b) Where the authority empowered to dismiss or remove a person or to reduce him in rank is satisfied that for
some reason, to be recorded by that authority in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry;
or
(c) Where the President or the Governor, as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the security of
the State it is not expedient to hold such inquiry.

(3) If, in respect of any such person as aforesaid, a question arises whether it is reasonably practicable to hold
such inquiry as is referred to in clause (2), the decision thereon of the authority empowered to dismiss or
remove such person or to reduce him in rank shall be final."[6]

Therefore, services of any civil servants cannot be terminated at pleasure unless the mandatory provisions of
Article 311 have been observed. This doctrine of pleasure is further restricted by the general law of the land
which empowers any civil servant to file suit in a court of law for enforcing any condition of his service and
for claiming arrears of pay. The power to dismiss at pleasure any civil servant is not a personal right of the
President or the Governor, as the case may be. It is an executive power which is to be exercised at the advice
of Council of Ministers. Doctrine of Pleasure as contained in Article 310, being a constitutional provision
cannot be abrogated by any legislative or executive law; therefore Article 309 is to be read subject to Article
310.[7]

Restrictions On The Doctrine Of Pleasure:


Under Indian Constitution several restrictions has been placed on Doctrine of Pleasure. They are as follows:
(i)

The service contract entered between the civil servant and government may be enforced.

(ii)
The fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution are restrictions on the pleasure doctrine
and therefore this doctrine cannot be resorted too freely and unfairly, Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution
imposed limitations on free exercise of Pleasure Doctrine. Article 14 embodies the principle of reasonableness
the principle of reasonableness is anti-thesis of arbitrariness. In this way, Article 14 prohibits arbitrary exercise
of power under pleasure doctrine. In addition to article 14 of the constitution Article 15 also restricts arbitrary
exercise of power in matters of services. Article 15 prohibits termination of service on grounds of religion,
race, caste, sex or place of birth or any of them. Another limitation is under Article 16(1) which obligates equal
treatment and bars arbitrary discrimination.
(iii)
Further the doctrine of pleasure is subject to many more limitations and a number of posts have
been kept outside the scope of pleasure doctrine. Under the constitution the tenure of the Judges of the High
Courts and Supreme court, of the comptroller and Auditor-General of India, of the Chief Election
Commissioner and the Chairman and Members of Public service commission is not at the pleasure of the
Government.[8]
Thus, the general principle relating to civil services has been laid down under Article 310 of the Constitution
to the effect that government servants hold office during the pleasure of the government and Article 311
imposes restrictions on the privilege of dismissal at the pleasure in the form of safeguards.

Persons Entitled To Safeguard:


Constitutional safeguards provided under Article 311 are not available to all the government servants. The text
of the Article refers to members of civil services of the Union or all- India service of a State or hold a civil post
under the Union or a State.[9]
The constitution bench of the Supreme Court in S.L. Agarwal (Dr.) v. General Manager[10], Hindustan Steel
Limited, generally considered as to who are the persons entitled to the protection of Article 311. The Court
identified the following persons:
(1) Persons who are members of:
(a) A civil service of the union; or
(b) An All India Service; or
(c) A civil service of a State; or

(2) Hold a civil post under the Union or State.

Difficulties have always arisen in relation to the meaning and scope of Civil Post. Though this expression has
been interpreted in many ways there is no debate that Article 311(1) deals with persons employed in the civil
side of administration in contradistinction to defence. Supreme Court in State of Assam v. Kanak Chandra
Dutta laid down that civil post in Clause (1) means a post not connected with the defence services and outside
the regular civil services.[11]

Further, in Parshottam Lal Dhingra v. Union of India[12], the Supreme Court of India has held that under
Article 311 the safeguards are applicable to both permanent and temporary servants.

Constitutional Safeguards Available To The Civil Servants:


There are two constitutional safeguards provided under Article 311 of the Indian Constitution. They are as
follows:
1.
Clause (1) of Article 311 addresses itself to the authority who can impose any of the punishments of
dismissal or removal.
According to this, no order of dismissal or removal can be made by an authority subordinate to the appointing
authority. But if the removing authority is of the same or co-ordinate rank or grade as the appointing authority
then, dismissal or removal by such authority is valid.[13]

2.
Clause (2) of Article 311 provides the procedural essentials to be followed before dismissing, removing
or reducing in rank.
Article 311(2) mandates the compliance of the Principles of Natural Justice. A civil servant cannot be punished
without: (a) holding an enquiry; and (b) informing the civil servant about the charges against him; and (c)
giving him a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges.

The enquiry contemplated by Article 311(2) is generally known as departmental enquiry and the Constitutional
requirements for a proper enquiry within the meaning of Article 311(2) are two-fold:
(a) The civil servant must be informed of the charges against him; and
The civil servant against whom a accusation of misconduct is made must be Formally informed i.e to say
those acts or omissions of the public servant which are termed as Misconduct under the Service Rules usually
referred to as Conduct rules. But, acts or conduct not covered by such may still amount to misconduct. It is
fundamental and essence of the concepts of fair play and justice that a person should know why he is being
charged.[14]

(b) He must be afforded a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges.[15]

Neither the General clauses Act nor the Constitution defines reasonable opportunity. Reasonable opportunity
here too refers to the rules according to Principles of Natural Justice. Broadly, it implies an opportunity to deny
the guilt alleged in order to establish innocence, to defend by examining himself and his witnesses.[16]

Exceptions To The Safeguards Provided Under Article 311:


The provision to Article 311 (2) provides for certain circumstances in which the procedure envisaged in the
substantive part of the clause need not be followed. These are as follows:
a) Where a person is dismissed or removed or reduced in rank on the ground of conduct which has led to his
connection on criminal charge; or
b)
Where the authority empowered to dismiss or remove a person or to reduce him in rank is satisfied that
for some reason to be recorded by that authority in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to hold such
inquiry; or
c)
Where the president or the governor as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the security of
the state it is not expedient to hold such inquiry.[17]

These provisions have been explained below in detail:


(a) Conviction on Criminal Charge:
The Supreme Court has emphasised under Art. 311(2)(a), the disciplinary authority is to regard the conviction
of the concerned civil servant as sufficient proof of misconduct on his part. The authority is to decide whether
conviction demands the imposition of any penalty and, if so, what penalty. For this purpose, the authority has
to take into consideration the judgement of the criminal court, the entire conduct of the civil servant, the
gravity of the offense, the impact of the offence on the administration, whether the offence was of a technical
or trivial nature, and extenuating circumstances if any. This the Disciplinary authority has to do ex-parte and
without giving a hearing to the concerned civil servant.[18]

The power has to be exercised by the authority fairly, justly and reasonably. Hearing need not be given while
imposing the penalty after conviction on a criminal charge, but the right to impose a penalty the duty to act
justly.[19]For instance, a government servant convicted for parking in the no-parking area cannot be
dismissed.

(b) Impracticability:
It is important to know that this clause applies only when the conduct of government servant is such as he
deserves the punishmen of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank. Before denying government servant his
constitutional right to an inquiry, the paramount consideration is whether the conduct of the government is
such as justifies the penalty of dismissal, removal or reduction in rank.

In Tulsi ram Patel case[20]the Supreme court explaining the scope of the clause has said
whether it was practicable to hold the inquiry or not must be judged in the context of whether it was
reasonably practicable to do so. It is not a total or absolute impracticability which is required by cl. (b). What is
requisite is that holding of the inquiry is not practicable in the opinion of a reasonable man taking a reasonable
view of the prevailing situation.
The Supreme Court further held that the reasonable practicability of holding an inquiry is a matter of
assessment to be made by the disciplinary as he is the best judge of the situation.[21]

(c) Reasons of Security:


Under (c) the satisfaction has to be that of the President or the Governor as the case may be. The satisfaction
must be with respect to the expediency or inexpediency of holding an inquiry in the interest of the security of
the State. Security of State being of paramount importance all other interests are subordinate to it, Security of
State may comprise a situation of disobedience and insubordination on the part of members of the police
force. In Tulsi ram Patel case[22] the Supreme Court has clarified that the question is not whether the security
of the State has been affected or not, for the expression cl(c) is in the interest of the security of State. The
interest of security of State may be affected by actual act, or even the likelihood of such acts taking place. So
the Court has observed What is required under cl.(c) is not the satisfaction of the President or the Governor,
that interest of the security of the State is or will be affected but his satisfaction in the interest of security of
State, it is not expedient to hold an inquiry as contemplated by Article 311(2).

The government is under obligation to disclose to the court the nature of the activities of the employee on the
basis of which the satisfaction of the President or the Governor was arrived at for the purpose of passing an
order under Article 311(2)(c). In the absence of any indication about the activities, it would not be possible for
the Court to determine whether the satisfaction was arrived at on the basis of relevant considerations. The
government is under obligation to place relevant material on the basis of which the satisfaction was arrived at
subject to a claim of privilege under Sections 123 and 124 of the Evidence Act, 1872.

Judicial Perspective on Doctrine of Pleasure In India


The Judicial perspective on Doctrine of Pleasure can be discussed in the following cases:
As we all know that rule emanating from the pleasure doctrine is that no servant of the Crown can maintain an
action against the Crown for any arrears of salary. The assumption underlying this rule is that the only claim of
the civil servant is on the bounty of the Crown and not for a contractual debt.

The Supreme Court of India in State of Bihar v. Abdul Majid[23] refused to follow this rule of the Doctrine
of pleasure. In this case sub-inspector of police was dismissed from service on the ground of cowardice, was

later reinstated in service. But the government contested his claim for arrears of salary for the period of his
dismissal. The Supreme Court in this case upheld his claim arrears of salary on the ground of contract or
quantum muruit i.e for the value of the service rendered.

Similarly the Supreme Court the reiterated the above ruling in Om Prakash v. State of Uttar Pradesh[24] where
it was held that when dismissal of a civil servant was found to be unlawful, he was entitled to get his salary
from the date of dismissal to the date when his dismissal was declared unlawful.

Further in State of Maharashtra v. Joshi[25], it was held that a claim of arrears of salary was held to be based
on contract.

Further the judiciary has also acted as checks and balances on the arbitrary exercise of the power of conferred
by the doctrine on the president and the Governor. The Supreme Court in Jaswant Singh v. State of Punjab[26]
held that in spite of finality of Article 311(3) the finality can certainly be tested in the court of law and
interfered with if the action is found to be arbitrary or malafide or motivated by extraneous considerations or
merely a ruse to dispense with the inquiry.

In Union of India v. Balbir Singh[27], the Supreme Court held that the Court can examine the circumstances
on which the satisfaction of the president or Governor. If the Court finds that the circumstances have no
bearing whatsoever on the security of State, the Court can hold that satisfaction of the president or the
Governor which is required for passing such an order has been vitiated by wholly extraneous or irrelevant
considerations.

Conclusion:
Thus it can be said that the Constitution makers then at that time had known about the discrepancies like
corruption to creep into the civil services, so in order not to grant immunity from summary dismissal to
dishonest or corrupt government servants so that they continue in service for months together at the public
expense and to Public detriment. Also at the same time the judiciary with its limited judicial review and
departmental appeal has ensured that the power to dismiss has not been misused by the authority.

With the lot many cases coming into light in relation to corruption among the government officials and the
linking of various government officials with anti-social elements the Article 310 and 311 of the Indian
Constitution envisaged in the Part XIV act as a check and does not allow the government officials to make
mockery of Law.