There is a common law rule in England that a civil servant of the Monarch holds his office and enjoys his position for the duration of the Monarch’s pleasure. The doctrine of pleasure is based on public policy, and anytime the Crown considers that a civil servant should be discharged from their position because continuing to do so would be against public policy, the Crown may terminate such an employee. And the same rule applies to India: The doctrine of pleasure is a common law rule provided under the Indian Constitution.
In this law note, you will learn about the doctrine of pleasure in India.
Concept of Doctrine of Pleasure in India
The doctrine of pleasure is incorporated by Article 310 of the Indian Constitution. Accordingly, it provides that everyone who is a member of the Defense Services, the Union Civil Services, or the All-India Services holds office at the President’s pleasure. And consequently, the members of the state services enjoy their position at the Governor’s pleasure.
Further, according to this doctrine, the President of India has the authority to dismiss a government servant at any time since he serves as the Executive Head of the Union and has the same status as the Crown in England. However, the doctrine of pleasure, as in England, has not been fully followed in India.
Restrictions on the Doctrine of Pleasure
The doctrine of pleasure is not exercised in the same manner as in England. In India, a civil servant can sue the concerned organisation (or technically the Indian President, the kind of equivalent of the Crown) for the arrears of salary. Some constitutional posts are excluded from the operation of the doctrine of pleasure. These are:
- Judges of the Supreme Court given under Article 124 of the Constitution
- Judges of the High Court given under Article 218
- Auditor-General of India given under Article 148(2)
- Chief Election Commissioner given under Article 324
- Chairman and members of the Public Service Commissions given under Article 317.
Additionally, a civil servant cannot be dismissed or removed if the doctrine is not used in compliance with the rules outlined in Article 311.
Safeguards to Civil Servants Under Indian Constitution
Limitation on the exercise of the doctrine of pleasure under Article 310 is limited by Article 311(2) of the Indian Constitution. These are the safeguards that are provided by Article 311 of the Constitution of India:
- A person holding a civil post under either the Union or the state can not be discharged by a lower authority than that who made his appointment.
- A person holding a civil suit can neither be removed nor reduced in rank without informing him regarding charges against him and without giving him a reasonable opportunity of being heard and showing cause against the action to be taken concerning him.
Further, Article 311 only applies to dismissal, removal or reduction if it is done by way of punishment.
Case Law Related to Doctrine of Pleasure
Divisional Superintendent, Eastern Railway vs L.N. Keshri (1974): In this case, it was determined that it was unlawful to reduce the pay of a confirmed government employee without first providing him with the chance to be heard. The court ruled that an employee who has been confirmed is entitled to the position and pay scale and that neither can be altered without following the procedure outlined in Article 311(2).
1. Powers of the President of India
2. Governor of a State – Role, Importance, and Functions