It is submitted by Sri Amitabh Thakur that the conduct rules applicable to Government servant including the All India Services (Conduct) Rules 1968, do not require him to obtain permission of the State Government, to file petition in public interest. According to him, he intimates the State Government about filing of the writ petition, and that such intimation is sufficient to exercise his rights in filing the writ petition as citizen of India.

Held- A public interest litigation is ordinarily filed where the executive or any statutory body fails to take any action, or does not discharge its functions properly. In a public interest litigation, directions are invariably issued to the Government, to act in accordance with law in the matters, which may concern public interest. In such matters, the directions issued to Central or State Government are likely to cause embarrassment to the persons in powers or the officers who are required to comply with the directions.

The petitioner No.1, as a serving police officer, can, in discharge of his duty, serve the Society much better than in filing public interest litigation, seeking orders of the Court in the matters, which do not concern him in discharge of his duty.

Let a copy of the order be sent to the Chief Secretary of the State Government through learned Chief Standing Counsel of the Court, and to the Central Government, who is the appointing authority of petitioner No.1 through the learned Assistant Solicitor General of India for the Union of India, for considering to issue appropriate directions that without obtaining permission from the competent authority in the State Government, the public servant in the State, will not be permitted to file any writ petition in public interest in which they are not seeking any relief personal to them.

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD, LUCKNOW BENCH

Case :- MISC. BENCH No. – 2761 of 2014

Petitioner :- Amitabh Thakur & Another [P.I.L.]

Respondent :- Hon’Ble Allahabad High Court Through Registrar General & Ors

Counsel for Petitioner :- Amitabh Thakur (In Person,Dr.Nutan Thakur (Inperson

Counsel for Respondent :- C.S.C.,A.S.G.,Manish Kumar,Subhash Chandra Pandey

Hon’ble Sunil Ambwani,J.

Hon’ble Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya,J.

1. We have heard Sri Amitabh Thakur – the petitioner No.1, appeared in person.

2. We are informed that the petitioner No.1 Sri Amitabh Thakur is a serving IPS Officer, holding a post of IG rank, and at present he is posted as Joint Director, Civil Defence. By this writ petition, he has prayed for following directions:-

“(a) to kindly issue a writ in the nature of mandamus thereby issuing certain directions to the concerned respondents, as suggested in Para 64 of this Petition or otherwise, as it deems fit by this Hon’ble Court in the interest of justice, so as to ensure that no further strike and/or work boycott and non-appearance by the advocates in their cases before the Hon’ble Courts in the State of Uttar Pradesh takes place and thus the fundamental right of speedy justice granted to the citizen of India gets ensured, as repeatedly stated in extremely forceful manner by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in various cases including Ramon Services Pvt Ltd Vs. Subhash Kapoor and Others [AIR 200 SC 207) and Ex-Capt. Harish Uppal Vs. Union of India and another (AIR 2003 SC 739).

(b). to pass any other order or directions for larger public interest to completely eliminate the current situation of frequent strikes and work boycotts of various kinds being witnessed in different parts of the State of U.P., which this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the present case.”

3. We have enquired from the Registry of the Court, and find that Sri Amitabh Thakur- the petitioner No.1 serving and holding IG Rank post is regularly filing writ petitions in public interest for various causes which are not personal to him. A list of writ petitions filed by him from the year 2012 to 2014 (20 in numbers) is as follows:-

(1) Writ Petition (Misc. Bench) No. 985 of 2012 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(2) Misc. Bench 987 of 2012 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(3) Misc. Bench 2002 of 2012 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(4) Misc. Bench 3153 of 2012 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(5) Misc. Bench 3489 of 2012 (Amitabh Thakur);

(6) Misc. Bench 9359 of 2012 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(7) Misc. Bench 4055 of 2013 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(8) Misc. Bench 4600 of 2013 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(9) Misc. Bench 6801 of 2013 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(10) Misc. Bench 7295 of 2013 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(11) Misc. Bench 7955 of 2013 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(12) Misc. Bench 9660 of 2013 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(13) Misc. Bench 10662 of 2013 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(14) Misc. Bench 1518 of 2014 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(15) Misc. Bench 1554 of 2014 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(16) Misc. Bench 1767 of 2014 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(17) Misc. Bench 2008 of 2014 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(18) Misc. Bench 2367 of 2014 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(19) Misc. Bench 2761 of 2014 (Amitabh Thakur – In person);

(20) Revision Petition 325 of 2014 (Amitabh Thakur – In person).

4. Apart from the above 20 writ petitions, the petitioner No.1 is a co-petitioner in many other cases and has also appeared in person as respondent in Writ Petition (MB) of 2009 and Writ Petition (Service Bench) No.2078 of 2011 filed by the State of U.P.

5. We take strong exception to the conduct of serving IPS Officer in filing writ petitions in Court on various matters in which he does not have personal interest, without obtaining permission from the State Government.

6. It is submitted by Sri Amitabh Thakur that the conduct rules applicable to Government servant including the All India Services (Conduct) Rules 1968, do not require him to obtain permission of the State Government, to file petition in public interest. According to him, he intimates the State Government about filing of the writ petition, and that such intimation is sufficient to exercise his rights in filing the writ petition as citizen of India.

7. He submits that in the present case, he has intimated the State Government of filing of the writ petition in public interest.

8. The petitioner, serving as IPS Officer, is not only bound by the rules of conduct, but should also act in a dignified manner. As a Police Officer, he must possess virtues of highest integrity, honesty and devotion to duty. As a serving IPS officer, he is on duty 24 hours in the day, and has to discharge such functions, and the directions of the State Government or the Central Government under which he is serving. He may not be allowed to take public causes, which do not concern him, and in which the State may be involved – directly or indirectly.

9. In State of Uttranchal Vs. Balwant Singh Chauval and others [2010 (3) SCC 402], the Supreme Court, after considering the right of public interest and after discussing the entire case law on the subject, has held as follows:-

“198. In order to preserve the purity and sanctity of the PIL, it has become imperative to issue the following directions:

(1) the courts must encourage genuine and bona fide PIL and effectively discourage and curb the PIL filed for extraneous considerations.

(2) Instead of every individual judge devising his own procedure for dealing with the public interest litigation, it would be appropriate for each High Court to properly formulate rules for encouraging the genuine PIL and discouraging the PIL filed with oblique motives. Consequently, we request that the High Courts who have not yet framed the rules, should frame the rules within three months. The Registrar General of each High Court is directed to ensure that a copy of the Rules prepared by the High Court is sent to the Secretary General of this Court immediately thereafter.

(3) The courts should prima facie verify the credentials of the petitioner before entertaining a PIL.

(4) The court should be prima facie satisfied regarding the correctness of the contents of the petitioner before entertaining a PIL.

(5) The court should be fully satisfied that substantial public interest is involved before entertaining the petition.

(6) The Court should ensure that the petition which involves larger public interest, gravity and urgency must be given priority over other petitions.

(7) The courts before entertaining the PIL should ensure that the PIL is aimed at redressal of genuine public harm or public injury. The court should also ensure that there is no personal gain, private motive or oblique motive behind filing the public interest litigation.

(8) The court should also ensure that the petitions filed by busybodies for extraneous and ulterior motives must be discouraged by imposing exemplary costs or by adopting similar novel methods to curb frivolous petitions and the petitions filed for extraneous considerations.”

10. Rule 7 of the All India Services (Conduct) Rules 1968 provides as follows:-

“7. Criticism of Government.?No member of the Service shall, in any radio broadcast 14or communication over any public media or in any document published anonymously, pseudonymously or in his own name or in the name of any other person or in any communication to the press or in any public utterance, make any statement of fact or opinion,?

i. Which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy or action of the Central Government or a State Government; or

ii. which is capable of embarrassing the relations between the Central Government and any State Government; or

iii. which is capable of embarrassing the relations between the Central Government and the Government of any Foreign State:

Provided that nothing in this rule shall apply to any statement made or views expressed by a member of the Service in his official capacity and in the due performance of the duties assigned to him.”

11. In Amitabh Thakur and another Vs. Union of India and others Misc. Bench No. 1518 of 2014, decided on 21.02.2014, a Division Bench of this Court presided by Hon’ble the Chief Justice, dismissed the writ petition filed by the petitioners. The Bench made the following observations:-

5. We are of the view that entertaining a broad and generalized grievance of this nature would clearly lie outside the jurisdiction of the Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. Public interest litigation involves a relaxation of the conventional standards of locus standi which are prescribed by the Court and which are that only a party which has a direct and substantive interest in the outcome of the proceedings should be allowed to present a grievance. Public interest litigation emerged as a vital instrument of promoting access to justice since in a country, such as ours, with a widespread prevalence of poverty, people are ignorant of their rights as a result of social disability and illiteracy among other reasons. Though their fundamental rights are violated they are, for reasons of social disability, unable to move the Court. The relaxation of rules of standing was intended to enure to the benefit of those who are unable to approach the Court for seeking wide-ranging remedies particularly for the protection of their social and economic rights. Victims of injustice often do not have the resources or ability to seek access to justice. While rules of locus standi have been relaxed for entertaining public interest petitions to achieve that object, petitions in public interest cannot result in a deviation from the basic parameters underlying the exercise of jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. One of the fundamental principles which governs judicial review is the separation of powers by which the power of legislation, administration and judicial review are vested in three separate wings of the State, namely, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The action of the legislature can be challenged when legislation is sought to be impugned on the ground that it violates constitutional prohibitions. Similarly, judicial review of administrative action extends to scrutinise whether administrative decisions violate fundamental rights or whether they are contrary to governing legislation whether of Parliament or a State legislature, or of subordinate legislation. As public interest litigation has expanded both in its reach and frequency, a large number of petitions are brought to Court, those which have been filed by the two petitioners being an illustration on point. It is necessary for the Court to continuously bear in mind the necessity to preserve the balance of constitutional powers which the constitution has carefully crafted.

12. A public interest litigation is ordinarily filed where the executive or any statutory body fails to take any action, or does not discharge its functions properly. In a public interest litigation, directions are invariably issued to the Government, to act in accordance with law in the matters, which may concern public interest. In such matters, the directions issued to Central or State Government are likely to cause embarrassment to the persons in powers or the officers who are required to comply with the directions.

13. The petitioner No.1, as a serving police officer, can, in discharge of his duty, serve the Society much better than in filing public interest litigation, seeking orders of the Court in the matters, which do not concern him in discharge of his duty.

14. We do not find that the petitioner No.1 is a busybody, or that any substantial public interest is not involved in this writ petition. The petitioner, however, is an inter-meddler, as he does not appear to have any concern with the cause, espoused in this writ petition. The strikes by advocates have become endemic, and have virtually plagued the judicial system in the State of U.P. The State judiciary looses thousands of working days in an year due to strikes by advocates on the causes, which have no concern with independence of judiciary. The Supreme Court had given several directions in this regard, which are being followed by the High Court and the sub-ordinate courts. The High Court/District Bar Associations and Bar Council of U.P have not responded to curb the strike, and to allow the judiciary to function with its capacity to decide the cases, and reduce pendency in Court.

15. The cause, however, does not concern the petitioner in any manner. One of the major issues concerning the State of U.P is the ineffective and captive police force. A number of writ petitions have been filed in public interest for improving the law and order situation in the State of U.P. The crime figures in the State are rising every year, causing concern of the the state of the citizens. The petitioner No.1, as a police officer, instead of discharging his duties to serve the Society, appears to be more interested for issuing directions to the executive of State of which he is a part, in the public interest litigations filed by him.

16. We have strong doubt about the bonafide of the petitioner No.1 in filing so many writ petitions in public interest. He appears to be busy to popularize himself, and to see his name in the newspapers whenever an order is passed by the Court. The tendencies of seeking such popularity by serving police officer should not only be discouraged but should be treated as an act of misconduct on his part.

17. Let the petitioner No.1 produce the written permission of the State Government to file this writ petition, to proceed further in the matter.

18. We direct the Registry of the Court, not to entertain any writ petition in public interest by any serving public servant including the petitioner No.1 – Sri Amitabh Thakur in future – either in person or through counsel, without enclosing written permission given by the competent authority in the State Government.

19. The Registry will comply with the orders.

20. Let a copy of the order be sent to the Chief Secretary of the State Government through learned Chief Standing Counsel of the Court, and to the Central Government, who is the appointing authority of petitioner No.1 through the learned Assistant Solicitor General of India for the Union of India, for considering to issue appropriate directions that without obtaining permission from the competent authority in the State Government, the public servant in the State, will not be permitted to file any writ petition in public interest in which they are not seeking any relief personal to them.

21. The Chief Secretary and Central Government will also examine whether the petitioner Sri Amitabh Thakur, serving as police officer of IG Rank should be allowed to file writ petition in public interest and whether the Central Government and State Government in principle, as a matter of policy, should allow the serving senior officers to file writ petition in the High Court in public interest, in which they may seek directions either directly or indirectly affecting governance by executive in the State/Central Government.

22. Learned standing counsels appearing for the Union of India and State respondents will file reply within four weeks.

23. List on 21.07.2014.

24. Let a copy of this order be given to the learned Senior Registrar of the Court, learned Chief Standing Counsel for the State and learned Assistant Solicitor General of India for the Union of India, for compliance.

Order Date :- 9.4.2014

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