Short Speech on ‘The Doctrine of Pleasure’

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. Thus, in England, doctrine of pleasure is based on public policy.

A similar rule is embodied in clause (1) of Article 310, which lays down that defense personnel’s and civil servants of the Union and the members of All India Service, hold office during the pleasure of the President.

Similarly, civil servants in a State, hold office during the pleasure of the Governor. This is general rule which operates “except as expressly provided by this Constitution.” The Supreme Court Judges, Attorney General of India, the High Court Judges, members of Public Service Commission and the Chief Election Commissioner, however, have been expressly excluded from the rule of Doctrine of Pleasure.

A rule emanating out of the doctrine of pleasure in England, is that no servant of the Crown can maintain an action against the Crown for any arrears of salary. This rule, however, does not operate in India, as has been held by the Supreme Court in a number of cases.

In State of Bihar v. Abdul Majid, AIR 1954 S.C. 245, it has been held that a civil servant in India could always sue the government for arrears of salary. This rule was reiterated in Om Prakash v. State of U.P., AIR 1955 S.C. 600, where it was held that when the dismissal of a civil servant was unlawful, he was entitled to his salary from the date of dismissal to the date when his dismissal was declared unlawful.

In State of U.P. v. Babu Ram Upadhyay, AIR 1961 S.C. 751, Supreme Court has held that the legislative power conferred on Parliament or a State Legislature by Article 309, is controlled by the Doctrine of Pleasure embodied in Article 310.

Opening words of Article 309 “subject to the provisions of this Constitution,” makes it clear that the conditions of service whether laid down by the legislature or prescribed by the rules, must conform to the mandatory provisions of the Constitution as laid down in Articles 310, 311 and 320 or in

These rules should also satisfy such conditions as equal pay for equal work under Article 39 (d). However, the doctrine of pleasure may be invoked by the government in public interest after a public servant has attained the age of 50 years or has completed 25 years service.

This is constitutionally permissible under F.R. 56. The power to frame rules under Article 309 includes the power to amend or alter the rules with retrospective effect subject to the principle that the benefits acquired under the existing rules cannot be taken away by an amendment with retrospective effect. This view has been expressed by the Supreme Court in T.K. Kapur v. State of Haryana, 1986 Supp. S.C.C. 584.

Restrictions on the Doctrine of Pleasure:

Following limitations have been laid down on the exercise of doctrine of pleasure:

(1) According to Article 310 (2), when a person (not being a civil servant or a member of defense forces) is appointed to a civil post on contract for a fixed term, the contract may provide for the payment of compensation to him, if the post is abolished for reasons not connected with misconduct on his part.

(2) According to Article 311 (1), no civil servant of the Centre or a State “shall be dismissed or removed by an authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed.”

(3) According to Article 311 (2), no civil servant shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank until he has been given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the action proposed to be taken in regard to him.

(4) There is strong judicial authority for the view that rule of the doctrine of pleasure under Article 310 cannot be exercised in a discriminatory manner and is controlled by Fundamental Rights contained in Articles 14. 15 and 16 of the Constitution.

(5) Under Article 320 (3) (c), the Union or State Public Service Commission is to be consulted on all disciplinary matters affecting a person serving under the Government of India or of a State, as the case may be, in civil capacity.