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Shamsher Singh vs. State of Punjab (1974)

This article is written by Nishimita Tah. This article provides detailed analysis of the landmark judgement of  Shamsher Singh vs State of Punjab (1974). The article discusses the facts of the case, issues raised, arguments advanced by both parties and the rationale behind the judgement. The article further analyses various intricacies related to the concept of discretionary powers of the governor under Indian federalism, the power of the governor as recognized by the Constituent Assembly and judicial review. 

It has been published by Rachit Garg.

Introduction 

The discretionary powers, duties and responsibilities of the Governor under Indian Constitution plays a pivotal role while he is serving in the office. Under the Indian Constitution, the Governor serves his office as the president’s representative in the hierarchy of the legislature. Article 168(1) of the Indian Constitution indicates that every state shall have a legislature which will consist of the office of the Governor and either one or two houses depending upon the situation. The governor serves as the State’s executive head within the scope of Articles 153 and 154 of the Constitution. The Governor plays the role as a leader behind all state executive actions. He exercises power over the officers for reporting him directly or indirectly to carry out all his executive functions.

The role and responsibilities of the Governor under the Indian Constitution includes taking assistance from the Council of Ministers, which is headed by the Chief Minister in carrying out the duties unless and until the Governor works independently in the office. In the cabinet system of the government, the governor serves his office as the official and constitutional head of the state.

In the functioning of our Constitutional system, the Governor is the cornerstone of the State’s constitutional  apparatus, regardless of whether he acts on the council of Ministers’ advice or not. The governor is appointed on the recommendation of the Central Government and the President plays an important role in his appointment. The appointment of the governor to its office is for the duration of five years stated under Article 156. Nevertheless, the governor’s presence remains in his office until his successor takes over the official seat before the term of office ends. Article 158(2) of the Constitution states that the permission to hold another position for extra profit is barred for the governor while serving the post as a governor. Once B.R.Ambedkar stated that “the Governor is the representative of the whole of the state

The present case is a seminal ruling regarding the notion of the Governor’s discretionary powers and it was decided by a seven-judge bench. The appellants in this case were probationary members of the Punjab Civil Service (judicial Branch). The probation period of both the appellants were terminated by an Order from the Chief Minister and other Ministers in accordance with the High Court’s recommendations and various relevant provisionary rules. The governor of Punjab issued the termination orders in his name without any consultation or getting the president’s approval. 

The article delves into the facts of the case, issues raised, arguments advanced by both the parties, legal considerations and a summary of the ruling.    

Details of the case

Name of the Case

Shamsher Singh & Anr. vs State of Punjab

Case citation

AIR 1974 SC 2192

Court

Supreme Court of India

Bench

The present case is a seven-judge Bench case. The involved judges were Hon’ble Justices A.N. Ray, D.G. Palekar, Kuttyil Kurien Mathew, Y.V. Chandrachud, A. Alagiriswami, P.N. Bhagwati, V.R. Krishnaiyer  

Name of Appellant

Shamsher Singh 

Name of Respondent

State of Punjab

Date of Judgement 

23.08.1974

Facts of Shamsher Singh vs. State of Punjab (1974) 

The present case involves two appeals against the judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The appellants Shamsher Singh and Ishwar Chand Agrawal joined the Punjab Civil Services (Judicial branch). However, the appellants were terminated without any proper reason. 

In the year 1967, dated 27th April, an order was passed on the termination of the service which stated that “The Governor of Punjab is pleased to terminate the services of Shri Shamsher Singh, subordinate Judge on probation based under Rule 9 of the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1952 (Now, as Punjab Civil Services (Punishment and Appeal) Rules, 1970) with immediate effect”. The appellant Shamsher Singh services was terminated by order of the Government of Punjab in the name of the Governor without mentioning the reasons of termination.

A few years later, in the year 1969, dated 15th December, an order was passed which terminated the services of the Appellant Ishwar Chand Agrawal. The order stated that “upon the recommendation submitted by the Hon’ble High Court of Punjab and Haryana, the Governor of Punjab is pleased to terminate with the services of Shri Ishwar Chand Agarwal, Punjab Civil Services (Judicial branch), with immediate effect under Rule 7(3) of Part ‘D’ of the Punjab Civil Services (Judicial Branch)  Rules, 1951, as amended from time to time.” 

Issue raised 

  • Whether the Governor is empowered to make decisions on the appointment and removal of Subordinate Judicial Service members?

Contentions of the parties

Arguments of appellant

Discretion of Powers

  1. The Appellants argued that the Governor has the right to use their discretion for appointment or removal of subordinate Judicial Service members. The Appellants contended that the Governor as the Constitutional head of the state can exercise the powers and State functioning of appointment and removal of service of Judicial members personally.
  2. The Appellants relied upon the case of Sardari Lal vs Union of India and Ors (1971) where it has been stated that the President or the Governor can make an order under Article 311(2)(c) that is in the interest of the security of the state affairs. It is not advisable to hold an enquiry for dismissal or removal in the rank of an officer, the President or Governor shall conduct in his personal satisfaction. Further, the appellants contended that under Article 234 of the Constitution the appointment and termination of services of Subordinate Judges is to be made by the Governor personally. 

Power of Aid and advice

Under Article 163, the Governor can take aid and advice from the Council of Ministers when the Governor is exercising executive power of the State. The executive powers of the State are vested in the Governor under Article 154(1).The powers of appointment and removal of Subordinate Judges under Article 234 of the Constitution whereas the allocation of powers to the Ministers does not grant under the Rules of Business  of the State of Punjab. 

Rule 7(2) under Part D of the Punjab Civil Rules

According to Rule 7(2) under Part D of the Punjab Civil Rules, the appellants argued that the governor may at the suggestion of the High Court remove any Subordinate Judge without restoring him to his old position during his probationary period.  Thus, they argued that under Article 234 read with Rule 7(2) of the Services Rules, the Governor has the authority to remove and appoint subordinate judges and that this authority cannot be delegated to any Minister.

Termination of Service

The appellant Ishwar Chand Agrawal contended that the termination from service was a form of punishment. He further contended that Article 311 and the norms of Natural Justice were allegedly violated by the investigation team. 

Rule 9 of  Punjab Civil Services Rules (1970) 

  1. The appellant also relied upon the Rule 9 of Punjab Civil Services Rules, (1970) which demonstrates the delegation of powers by the Governor of Punjab specified under Article 309 of Indian Constitution. 
  2. The rules are specific for the state of Punjab and therefore, governs disciplinary proceedings and appeals for government servants under the state civil services.The power of Rule 9 also dealt with the allocation of powers by the governor to impose punishment upon government servants. 
  3. Further, it also stated that the Governor can allocate those powers under the authority subject to certain conditions which includes ensuring the authority allocating the powers follows the principles of Natural Justice, an opportunity to be heard and to hold the procedures prescribed under Rule 9. 
  4. However, Rule 9 permits for delegation of powers but the fundamental protection of government servants is provided under Article 311 of the Indian Constitution. It upholds that the powers are delegated during disciplinary proceedings. Thus, the government servants are entitled to fair inquiry, an opportunity to be heard and a reasonable decision before adhesive action taken against him.

  Rules of Business

The appellant Shamsher Singh in context to Rules of Business argued that the termination of a subordinate Judge from Service is a personal authority of the Governor and cannot be assigned or handled in accordance with the Rules of Business. The Governor may delegate to the ministers any matter of the Government, this is an exercise of the Governor’s executive authority through the council or officers in accordance with the Rules of matter. Therefore, the Appellant contended that the order was passed by the Chief Minister  without the Governor’s formal consent is implausible.

Control over Subordinate authority 

It was further contended that Article 235 of the Constitution grants the High Court authority over the lower judiciary. The appellant claimed that the High Court disregarded the Constitution provisions and breached its authority by ordering the government to conduct  an inquiry through the vigilance department rather than using judicial powers under the High Court’s control to conduct an inquiry.    

Arguments of respondent  

Power of aid and advice

  1. The State argued that the Governor only used the authority granted to him by the Constitution, namely  the power of nomination and removal, in conjunction with the advice and assistance of his Council of ministers rather than acting on his own.
  2. The argument made for the State contended that the President is the legitimate head of the Union, while the Governor is the head of the state. In the blueprint of the Constitution, the President and the Governor clutch out all the duties and powers with the proper assistance and guidance of the council of ministers.

Termination of services

  1. On behalf of the State, it was argued that the High Court of Punjab and Haryana requested the Director of Vigilance to hold investigation and enquiry  on the  termination of services by the Superintendent of Police. 
  2. The respondents provided justification on why the employment of the appellants should be terminated.
  • Firstly, one of the Appellants acted in a way that was extremely offensive, disparaging, uncooperative and unworthy of a judicial officer toward the bar and litigant public. 
  • Secondly, the Appellant used to leave his office early before official duty hours. 
  • Thirdly, one of the agriculture inspectors, Om Prakash stated that the Appellant had misused his authority by threatening to include Om Prakash in a case if he did not comply with the directions of the Appellant’s friend, Mangal Singh, Sultanpur Block Development officer. 
  • Lastly, the allegation of malfunction endows with an opportunity to step ahead with his evidence. Further, the respondent also contended that the Governor takes action on the basis of the advice taken by the Council of Ministers which the Governor cannot disapprove of their recommendations.
  • The respondent also submitted that the termination of service of the government servants on probation does not mandatorily amount to punishment if it is done in compliance with rules of service.

Laws discussed in Shamsher Singh vs. State of Punjab (1974)

Executive power of the State

Article 154(1) of the Constitution vests the executive powers of the State with the Governor. The official control of the State is vested within the representative under Article 154(1). 

Conduct of business by the Government of State

The delegation of State Government matters to the Council of Ministers by the Governor pursuant to Article 166(3) of the Constitution is distinct from the assistance and advice provided by the council of ministers under Article 163. Under Article 166(3), the Governor’s executive power is exercised through council in the government’s business delegation. The governor does delegate his duties. The Governor will not be able to hold out these state executive functions in accordance with the Constitution without the assistance and aid of the Council of Ministers.

Council of Ministers to aid and advice Governor

According to Article 163(1) of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers is guided by the Prime Minister to assist and advise the Governor for the performance of the duties in exception where he is concerned with performing his duties at his discretion. According to Article 163(2), the decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be the final decision, if any such question arises as to whether any matter is a matter under the Constitution or a part in respect of which the Governor shall act in his discretion. Henceforth, the word “at his discretion” in relation to the performance of duties, the appellants contended that with the aid and advice by the Council of Ministers, the Governor performs his executive duties. The Governor personally, at his discretion, exercises the constitutional right with respect to the appointment and recall of employees of the Supreme Court and other state services. 

Recruitment of persons other than district Judges

The referral of Article 234 deals with the recruitment of persons other than the district judges. Rules of Business of Punjab do not grant the Ministerial post with the authority to appoint or remove subordinates. According to Rule 18 of the Rules of Business, cases will typically be handled by the authority of the Minister in charge who may use the standing orders to give any instructions he deems appropriate for the handling of cases in his department, unless otherwise specified by any other rule. 

Council of Ministers to aid and advice the President  

It should be noted that although Article 74 provides that there is a council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister to assist and advise the President in the Performance of his duties, the official control of the Union is vested within the President under Article 53(1). Thus, the expression “Union” and “State” under Article 53(1) and 154(1) respectively bring  the governing principles within the structure.The activities undertaken within the official control of the Union vests within the role of President under Article 53(1) and is considered to be within the powers of the President as shown under Article 77(1).

When it comes to executive actions that are carried out under the purview of the Governor or President, there are two most important characteristics:

  • Firstly, it is not permitted for the Governor or President to be sued for any state administrative activity. According to Article 300, it stipulates that the Governor of a State may file a lawsuit in the name of the State and the Government of India may file a lawsuit in the name of the Union.
  • Secondly, under Article 361, it stipulates that legal action may be taken against the State and Indian government but not against the President or the Governor.  

The British Parliament or cabinet system of government is essentially embodied in our Constitution for both the Union and the States. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has taken the view that the powers of the President and Governor are similar to the powers of the Crown under the British Parliamentary system.

Disqualification of members

Article 103 expressly states that the President may only act in accordance with the opinion of the Election Commission and this exempts him from taking  the assistance and advice of the Council of Ministers.In accordance with this arrangement, the President serves as the formal or Constitutional head of the Union and executes the duties and authority bestowed upon him by the Constitution with the assistance and aid of his Council of Ministers. 

The governor is the official head of State under the cabinet system of Government as outlined in our Constitution. All powers and duties granted by the Constitution are to be exercised with assistance and advice of the council of ministers, with the exception in those matters wherein the Governor is required by the Constitution to carry out his or her duties at his or her own discretion. The remainder that doesn’t come within the legislative or judicial branches of government is sometimes referred to as the executive branch. 

Cases discussed

Sardari Lal vs. Union of India & ors (1947)

In the case of Sardari Lal Vs Union of India & Ors(1947), the President issued an order in accordance with Article 311(2)(c) of the Constitution. The President has to be personally satisfied before termination of an employee from the public service. He was unfit to be retained in the service as specified under the impugned order. The president was further convinced that holding an inquiry was not necessary in the interest of the State’s security. The order was contested on the grounds that the Joint Secretary signed it and it was a presidential proclamation, which means that the joint secretary was not authorised to sign on behalf of the President. Thus, the President or the Governor has the final say when it comes to decisions made by ministers or officers in accordance with business regulations. 

Moti Ram Deka etc vs. General Manager (1963) 

In the case of Moti Ram Deka etc Vs General Manager (1963) the issue for determination in the case was whether Articles 148(3) and 149(3) of the Constitution which allows for the termination of a permanent employment with a certain notice period infringed Article 311. In this case, it was held that Articles 148(3) and 149(3) of the constitution were unlawful because they were at odds with the terms of Article 311(2). The ruling in the case, does not support the claim that the Governor cannot assign the right to fire a servant at will since it is outside the purview of Article 154. The tenure of a public servant is based upon the qualifications under Article 311 of the Constitution. The Parliament or the State Legislature cannot modify the tenure as to infringe upon the power conferred upon the President or Governor under Article 310. Articles 310 and 311 must be read together but the scope and effect of Article 311 is laid down & the scope of Article 310 is limited.

Jayanti Amritlal Shodhan vs. F.N.Rana & Ors (1964)

In the case of Jayanti Amritlal Shodhan Vs F.N.Rana & Ors(1964), considered the validity of the notification issued by the President  under Article 258(1) of the Constitution confers on with the consent of the Government of Bombay to the Commissioners of Divisions in the State of Bombay to handle land acquisition matters for the purposes of the Union within the territorial jurisdiction of the commissioners. In this case, the Court ruled that Article 258 permits the President to designate officers named in the notification to carry out the activities related to the matter over which the legislative branch of government has legislative authority. Further, it was decided that the President’s notification had legal force behind it. The court also ruled that Article 258(1) permits the President to assign to the State the powers vested in the Union and which the President may exercise on the Union’s behalf. It was also stated that Article 258 does not permit the President to assign powers that the Constitution expressly vests in the President.

Bejoy Lakshmi Cotton Mills Ltd vs. State of West Bengal and ors (1967)

In the case of Bejoy Lakshmi Cotton Mills Ltd Vs State of West Bengal and ors(1967), the Court examined the legality of the case through a notice draft that was endorsed by the assistant secretary within the State Government’s land and revenue department. Further, it was argued that the Governor was designated by Article 154(1) of the Constitution and it possessed the executive power of the State. Section 4 and 6 of the Land Development and Planning Act(1948) governed the notification and it took the Governor’s pleasure into consideration. The Governor assigned specific subjects to the minister in accordance with the Rules of Business established under Article 166(3). The government’s official business had to be conducted in several departments listed under the schedules according to the rules of business in the above mentioned case of Bejoy Lakshami cotton mills case . The minister in charge had the authority to establish standing orders pertaining to the case of disposition. Hence, the Court ruled that any Minister’s or officer’s decision made in accordance with the rules of Business belongs to the president or the governor. The Governor here referred to the Governor with assistance and advice from the ministers.

U.N.Rao vs Indira Gandhi(1971)

In the case of U.N.Rao vs Indira Gandhi (1971), the court observed that the Constitution of India drafted was very likely to the British Parliamentary system. Further, it was stated that the executive has the prior responsibility for building up a strong Government policy. The executive acts to be controlled by the Legislature. Article 74(1) of the Constitution states that the Council of Ministers with the Prime Minister at the head to advise the President in the functioning of the Legislature is mandatory.

Judgement of Shamsher Singh vs. State of Punjab (1974) 

The Supreme Court categorically restated the long-standing legal doctrine that the President or Governor is just the head of State designated by the Constitution, with actual authority resting with the Council of Ministers with whose assistance and advice the President or Governor conducts his or her functions. The President and Governor, both are under the cabinet form of government under the Constitution. 

A consultation paper was published on “The Institution of Governor under the Constitution” by the department of legal affairs in Page 10 it stated that the Constitutional law states that the “functions” of the President, Governor and the “business” of Government belong to the Ministers, not the Head of State or Union. The terms “aid and advice” of Ministers, in the context of our constitutional scheme, mean that the Ministers act and make decisions on their own authority, independent of the President’s Power to accept or reject such actions or decisions with the exception of Governor’s who are subjected to the limited authority granted under Article 163 and whose discretion is remotely controlled by the Centre. Thus, this ruling nullified the judgement of the Sardari Lal vs Union of India (1971).   

Delegation of power by the President or Governor under rules of business under Article 77(3) and Article 166(3)  

Article 77(3) and Article 166(3) of the Indian Constitution specify the provisions for the delegation of powers by the President and the Governor under the Rules of Business.

Overview of Article 77

The overview of Article 77 implemented under part V of the Indian Constitution deals with the Union Government. It states about the delegation of executive functions by the President. Article 77 also deals with the conduct of government business. It says that all the executive activities of the government of India shall be put up in the name of the President. The government must give consent to the President before taking any decision , order or activity. The article also highlights the sense of legitimacy and accountability to the government’s actions.

The clause (3) of Article 77 purposely allows the president to make rules for the Indian government for better transactions and allocation of business among the ministers. It also empowers the President to delegate executive functions and responsibilities among the ministers to ensure the smooth functioning of the Government.

The government of India (allocation of business) rules, 1961

The government of India (allocation of business) rules, 1961 extends the importance of Article 77 by specifying the framework for allocation of work among different ministries and departments. It ensures the responsibility of each department for the area of governance, leading to efficiency and specialisation.

Overview of Article 166

Article 166 outlines the rules and procedures governing the conduct of business in the State Government. It lays down with the principles of transparency, efficiency and accountability that advises the smooth functioning of the government in its regular activities. The clause (3) of Article 166 depicts the Delegation of Executive Functions by the Governor. 

The Article says that all executive activities in affairs of the state shall be expressed in the name of the Governor. It also says that the execution of Orders and other instruments are made in the name of the Governor. The Governor has the authority to authenticate the Order as per the specified Rules. The governor has also the power to design the rules for smooth transaction of business in the state affairs. 

Thus, in both the Articles, delegation of power illuminates certain limitations and guidelines. The Rules of Business in provisions aim to ensure efficient and strict governance and division of responsibilities within the executive level at the central and state affairs.There is a distinction between “the aid and advice of the council of ministers” and “the allocation of the business by the State Government in the name of Governor to council of ministers” mentioned under Articles 163 and 166(3) of the Constitution. Under clause (3) of Article 166 the allocation of business of state government gives an illustration to exercise executive power in the name of the Governor through his council of ministers by delegating his functions. 

The aid and advice to the council of ministers and Constitutional restriction. The Governor under the Constitutional framework will not be competent to exercise the powers of the state government without the aid and advice of the council of ministers. The clauses of Article 166 does not show sufficiency in performing the executive actions of the state Government stated under article 166(1) of the Constitution. 

The expression connoted “business of government of india” and “business of government of state” under 77(3) and 166(3) includes all executive business.In accordance to article 77(3) and article 166(3) in all cases,the role of President or Governor is to exercise his operations conferred under the Constitution. It is the duty of the President or Governor to make rules for convenient transactions of business by allocating a department between the Government of India and the Government of states after aid and advice of his council of ministers. 

Under the cabinet system, if any situation arises in matters like articles 213, 311(2), 356, 360, 123, 317, 352(1) where the president or governor is required assistance not for personal issues but in Constitutional sense, the council of ministers have all the power to provide assistance in such situations to President or Governor. The nature of the cabinet system of government that is responsible to the legislature is that the individual minister undertakes every action to be taken in his ministerial department.

Termination of  Service of Ishwar Chand Agrawal 

The services of Ishwar Chand agrawal were terminated under rule 7(3) of Punjab civil services(judicial branch) rules,1951.

  1. In the present case, there was no confirmation involved and by reason a notice of show cause was given. The high court ordered termination of service of Ishwar Chand Agrawal is clearly by way of punishment in the facts and circumstances of the case.The hon’ble High Court denied the Ishwar chand agrawal’s protection under Article 311 but also ignored the dignified control over the judiciary. 
  1. The form of the order is not clear as to whether the order is by way of punishment. An innocuous words order leading to termination of service in the facts and circumstances of the case, establishes an enquiry into allegations of serious and grave character of misconduct involving stigma has been made ill infarction of the provision of Article 311. A simple case filed on the form of order will not give any sanctity. The  order of termination of service of Ishwar Chand Agrawal is illegal and must be kept aside. 
  1. It was found that the Hon’ble Supreme Court applied the object of enquiry upon the doctrine of simple order of termination which had been pre show cause and notice . It was held that the inquiry was intended to take traumatic action, the innocent phraseology of the order made no difference. 
  1. Jagdish Mitter vs Union of India was cited where Gajendragadkar J. held that “No doubt the order denotes to be one of the discharge and the power of the authority to terminate the temporary appointment with one month’s notice. The Supreme Court stated that the order refers to the facts that the appellant was found undesirable to be retained in Government service. The Court also expressed the casts a stigma on the appellant and it must hold an order of dismissal and not a mere order of discharge.”
  1. The Learned Chief Justice mentioned in the judgement that it was a breach of the requirements of Rule 7 and the orders of termination were passed against Ishwar Chand Agrawal are on that account to be void. 

Termination of Service of Shamsher Singh 

  1. The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the termination without specific involvement of charges and misconduct of any government servant does not lead to punishment. However, the protection enshrined under Article 311 does not get invoked. 
  1. The Hon’ble Supreme Court also held that if the government servant is terminated without any particular charges of misconduct, corruption and other disciplinary issues before proved against the employee, the defence may not be applicable.
  1. The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the termination of service order regarding shamsher singh are set aside. In the opinion of the fact the Supreme Court held that shamsher singh is already an employee in the Ministry of law and all the monetary benefit as well as salary will be obtained till the time he is putting its operation in the ministry of law. The State of Punjab will pay all the cost on the allegations upon Shamsher Singh. 

Rationale behind this judgement 

In this case, Justice A.N Ray delivered the majority opinion. The court  rules that the Governor of the state is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, when he is exercising the formal constitutional powers. The power to appoint and remove members of the subordinate judiciary is also such a formal Constitutional or conditional power, so the Governor is bound by the aid and advice of the Council of ministers. Article 234 of the Constitution doesn’t grant the authority to the Governor to make independent decisions in this regard.

The fundamental feature of a cabinet form of government is that decisions are made by civil servants and each minister is accountable for every action or inaction conducted within their Ministry. A civil servant makes decisions on behalf of the Government. On the recommendation and assistance of the ministers, the Governor, as the official head of State, appoints and dismisses individuals. In this instance, the Court has ruled that the President and the Governor, in all affairs whether they are of an executive or legislative nature, act with the assistance and advice of the ministers.

If the governor takes independent action, the Council of Ministers must agree with him. Since the governor appoints and removes subordinate judicial service members, it is an executive activity that should be carried out with the assistance and advice of the ministers. Occasionally, the authorities believe that the probationary behaviour could lead to their termination. However, in such situations, the choice is to not to look up into the matter further. The probationer may be entitled for protection if his service is terminated without adhering to Article 311( 2) requirements. He is subjected to investigation into allegations of misconduct.

The governor must follow the High Court’s recommendations in accordance with Article 235. The High Court was supposed to direct district Judges to carry out an investigation. The Court ruled that the appellant’s eligibility must be investigated by the authorities and that the termination order was unlawful. The termination order issued against Ishwar Chand was overturned.     

Conclusion 

The present case is based on the two appeals from the judgement of Punjab and Haryana High Court. The appellants in the case had joined the Public Civil Service. However, Shamsher Singh and Ishwar Chand Agrawal were kept on probation.On 27th April,1967 an order made by the Government of Punjab , stating Shamsher Singh was terminated without any reason. On 15th December,1969, the other appellant Ishwar Chand Agrawal was terminated from his services due to suggestions made by the High Court  by the Governor. 

The concerning issue of “termination of service of a probationer” is no more res integra. The Hon’ble Calcutta High Court in the case of Shyamapada Patra Vs Union of India & Ors (2024) has referred to the present case of Shamsher Singh & Anr. Vs State of Punjab, and have cleared the doubt that ‘no conceptual proposal can be laid down that where the services of a probationer are terminated without saying anything more in the order of termination than that the services are terminated it can never amount to a punishment in the facts and circumstances of the case. If a probationer is discharged on the ground of misconduct or inefficiency of a reason without a proper enquiry and without his getting a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against his discharge, it may in a given case amount to removal from service within the meaning of Art. 311 (2) of the Constitution’. The Supreme Court subsequently reaffirmed this in its interpretation of the constitution and the jurisprudence of the original objectives of the drafters and convention of the Constitution. A statement in the order of termination stating that the temporary worker is undesirable imports as a part of punishment was seen in Jagdish Mitter Vs Union of India AIR (1964) .  

The Supreme Court in its judgement has tackled the problem and provided a brief explanation of the rules 7(3) and 9 which governs the determination of the questions as to when a termination from service of a probationer is said to amount to discharge from the service and when it can be said to amount  to punishment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the distinction between “dismissal at pleasure” and “pleasure attached with liability to be dismissed for misconduct” as discussed in the Shamsher Singh case?

The difference between “dismissal at pleasure” implies termination from service within convey of any reason and “dismissal at pleasure but with liability to be dismissed for misconduct”  implies that termination from service the decision can only be taken for misconduct after following the procedure of due process and almost providing the opportunity for defence.

How did the Shamsher Singh v. State of Punjab case contributes to administrative law in India?

 The case contributed extensively to the development of administrative law in the context of India. It reaffirmed the principles of natural justice, fairness in procedures and the practice of the rule of law in the matters of termination of government servants. It also establishes the fact that in cases of dismissal of pleasure, the executive must act in a fair and reasonable manner.

Did the Shamsher Singh case impact the theory of natural justice in Indian law?

The present case is one of the landmark cases in the matter of termination of government service. The development of the theory of natural justice in the context of administrative actions on termination underscored the importance of fair trial and the right to be heard before decisions are adversely made.

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