“Government Servants Cannot Be Excluded From The Protection Of Rights Guaranteed By Part III Of Constitution”- Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court while dealing with a plea filed by Central PWD Engineers Association has held that government servants cannot be excluded from the protection of the rights guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution of India, though the duties which they may discharge as a public servant might involve restrictions of freedom in terms of Article 19 of the Constitution.
A Division Bench comprising Justice V. Kameswar Rao and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta observed, “The primary objective of the CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993 is of granting recognition to any Service Association in order to encourage legitimate union activities for enabling the negotiations by the representative body, if so required and maintenance of harmonious relationship between the government and employees. The government servants cannot be excluded from the protection of the rights guaranteed by part III of the Constitution though the duties which they may discharge as a public servant might involve restrictions of freedom in terms of Article 19 of the Constitution of India.”
The Bench further held that by virtue of Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India, the right to form Association or Union or Cooperative Societies is a fundamental right even though the recognition of such Associations by the government may not be a fundamental right.
Senior Advocate C. Mohan Rao and Advocate Lokesh Kumar Sharma appeared for the petitioners while Advocates Ruchir Mishra and Mukesh Kr. Tiwari appeared for the respondents.
Brief Facts -
The challenge, in this case, was to an order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) whereby the continuation of recognition of the petitioner association was denied on the ground that the petitioners did not file the required documents as per the schedule specified under Rule 6(e) of the Central Civil Services (Recognition of Service Associations) Rules, 1993 i.e., CCS (RSA) Rules. Accordingly, it was held that petitioners were not entitled to claim the benefits accorded to a recognized association but since the association later filed the documents which were under active consideration of the respondent, they were directed to expedite re-verification and consider continuation of recognition of the association.
It was the case of the petitioners that following the promulgation of the CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993 the petitioner association was granted recognition by Union of India, through the Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on October 4, 1996. After carrying out the re-verification of membership, the respondent i.e., the Secretary approved continuance of recognition of the petitioner association for a further period of five years vide letter dated July 27, 2004.
The High Court in view of the above facts noted, “As per Rule 2(a) of CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993 ‘Government’ means the ‘Central Government’. Further, Rule 5 of CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993 provides that the Service Associations which fulfil the conditions laid therein may be recognized by the ‘Government’. Under Rule 8, the ‘Government’ is empowered to withdraw the recognition in case the service associations recognized under the Rules, fail to comply any of the conditions set in Rule 5, 6 or 7 of the CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993 after giving any opportunity to the service associations.”
The Court said that it has ample power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in appropriate cases to compel the performance of the obligation by the respondents for compliance of grant/continuation of recognition under CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993.
“We accordingly deem it appropriate to direct the Competent Authority/respondents to take an appropriate decision in respect of the continuation of recognition in respect of petitioner Association from 2009 till 2021, in accordance with law”, directed the Court.
The Court further set aside the findings of the Tribunal whereby the prayer to quash the office memorandum dated January 9, 2019, qua the petitioner association was declined.
“The prayer regarding the recognition of petitioner Association already stands disposed of by the Tribunal by directing to expedite the re-verification and recognition and thereafter the petitioner Association has since been granted recognition vide letter No.04/05/2019-EC-III/EW1 for a period of five years w.e.f. issue of letter dated January 18, 2021”, held the Court.
The Court also remanded the issue regarding the continuation of recognition of petitioner for the period 2009-2021 to the competent authority for consideration in accordance with the law.
“Consequently, the transfer orders dated January 11, 2019 and consequential proceedings thereupon taken against petitioner No.2&3 shall be kept in abeyance till decision is taken by the Competent Authority for continuation of recognition of petitioner Association for the period 2009 to 2021”, said the Court.
Accordingly, the Court disposed of the writ petition.
Cause Title- Central PWD Engineers Association and Ors. v. Union of India and Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:3622-DB)