Supreme Court Dismisses PIL Seeking Cooling Off Period For Civil Servants Before Contesting Polls
The Supreme Court has dismissed a PIL filed seeking a direction to the Center to impose restrictions to prevent Civil Servants from contesting elections on a political party ticket, immediately after retirement or resignation from service, by imposing a "cooling off period".
While dismissing the PIL, the Bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice A. S. Bopanna observed that Civil Servants should maintain political neutrality and impartiality. "There can be no doubt that civil servants should maintain the highest ethical standards of integrity and honesty; political neutrality; fairness and impartiality in the discharge of duties, courtesy, accountability and transparency", the Bench said.
The Bench held that it cannot issue a mandamus to the legislature to legislate. "..when the Legislature cannot be commanded to enact legislation, no Mandamus should be issued to the Government to the same effect, however desirable the legislation may be", the Bench held.
The Bench held that stringent action should be taken against the Civil Servants who breach ethical standards. "Integrity, impartiality, neutrality, transparency and honesty are non-negotiable. Ethical standards necessarily have to be enforced and stringent action taken against the concerned officer whenever there is any breach of ethical standards as laid down in the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968", the Bench held.
The Court noted that the Petitioner, Vivek Krishna who appeared in person, had challenged the dismissal of a writ petition filed by him before the Jharkhand High Court seeking the same relief. "This Writ Petition is barred by the principles of res judicata and/or principles analogous thereto", the Court held.
The Court noted that the allegations of bureaucrats deviating from strict norms of political neutrality with a view to obtaining party tickets to contest elections is vague, devoid of particulars and unsupported by any materials. "No particulars have been given of the number and/or percentage of erstwhile bureaucrats, who have contested elections on the ticket of a political party, not to speak of any act on their part, prior to their retirement, in deviation of the standards required of bureaucrats", the Court held.
The Court held that it is not for the Court to decide whether or not there should be any rules for a bureaucrat to contest elections. "It is for the appropriate authorities to take a decision in this matter", the Court held while dismissing the PIL.
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