The Central Minister of Law, Shri Virappa Moili made a public statement that the corrupt government employees should be dismissed or removed from service and Article 311 of the Constitution of India which is protecting them should be amended or be dropped from the Constitution.However,Biswabhusan Harichandan, the former minister of Law, Government of Orissa has objected to the abolition of this article.
So far as the first part of his statement is concerned, we entirely agree with him but the second part of his statement that Article 311 should be dropped from the Constitution requires close examination.
Article 311 provides that (1) No person who is a member of the civil service of the union or an All India Service or a Civil Service of a State or holds a Civil post under the Union or a State shall be dismissed or removed by an Authority sub-ordinate to that by which he was appointed.
(2) No such person as afore said shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which he has been informed of charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges.
Article 311 of the Constitution does not prohibit the government from dismissing any corrupt government employees, it only provides that the delinquent employee should be given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of charges made against him. There should be an enquiry against him where he will have the opportunity of explaining his conduct. Article 311 has also authorised the government or the concerned Authority in the government not to hold any enquiry where it is not reasonably practicable. The authorities are required only to record the reasons as to why it is not practicable to hold the enquiry. If the government is armed with so much of power to dismiss a corrupt government employee, after observing some formalities as required by Article 311 what prompted the Law Minister to think of abolishing such a valuable right of the employee. If the government employee is corrupt, he should immediately be dismissed from service in the greater interest of the administration, but the case of corruption must be proved against him otherwise the employees who are dutiful but upright and a bit independent minded will be subjected to victimisation, if they fail to act according to the whims of their higher bosses.
This valuable right of a citizen or government employee cannot be taken away arbitrarily without giving him any opportunity of being heard. He is entitled to know the crime he has committed. We should not forget that we are governed by rule of Law on which the entire Constitutional system of this country is based. The cardinal principles of rule of Law is that nobody should be punished without being afforded an opportunity of hearing. The framers of the Constitution had clearly foreseen this danger while drafting the Constitution.
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