From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Article 311 of the Indian Constitution
Mains level : Read the attached story
A suspended Maharashtra police officer was dismissed from service by Mumbai Police Commissioner under Article 311 (2) (b) of the Indian Constitution without a departmental enquiry.
What is Article 311?
- Article 311 says that no government employee either of an all India service or a state government shall be dismissed or removed by an authority subordinate to the owner that appointed him/her.
- Section 2 of the article says that no civil servant shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which s/he has been informed of the charges and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges.
Various safeguards under Art. 311
- Article 311 is meant to act as a safeguard for civil servants that give them a chance to respond to the charges in an enquiry so that he/she is not arbitrarily dismissed from service.
- The article also provides exceptions to these safeguards under subclause 2 provision b.
- It states “when an 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 enquiry”.
What is the process of a departmental enquiry?
- In a departmental enquiry, after an enquiry officer is appointed, the civil servant is given a formal chargesheet of the charges.
- The civil servant can represent himself/herself or choose to have a lawyer.
- Witnesses can be called during the departmental enquiry following which the enquiry officer can prepare a report and submit it to the government for further action.
Are there other exceptions where a person can be dismissed without departmental enquiry?
- As per Article 311 subclause 2 provision a, if a government employee is convicted in a criminal case, he can be dismissed without DE.
- Apart from this, under 311 (2) (c), a government employee can be dismissed when the President or the Governor, as the case may be, is satisfied in the interest of the security of the state.
Can the dismissal under section 311 (2) be challenged by the government employee?
- Yes, the government employee dismissed under these provisions can approach either tribunal like the state administrative tribunal or the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) or the Courts.