The Delhi High Court will hear on Friday a public interest litigation (PIL) matter objecting to the appointment of persons holding important positions in political parties as public servants at various government posts.
The petition, filed by lawyer Sonali Tiwary, says the “principle of political neutrality of public servants” prohibits them from taking part in political activities but there is “non-conformance to the above principle”, which is not only causing huge losses to the public exchequer, but also propagating the beliefs of the political parties.
The PIL is listed for hearing before a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad.
Citing the example of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra, who is the chairman of the India Tourism Department Corporation, and BJP Parliamentary Board member Iqbal Singh Lalpura, who is the chairperson of the National Minorities Commission, the petitioner has contended that those occupying “such venerated offices are expected to maintain neutrality and remain impartial”, but holding any kind of official position within a political party negates this very purpose.
The plea also refers to the appointment of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson Jasmine Shah as the vice-chairman of the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee member Dr Chandrabhan Singh’s appointment as the vice-chairman of the 20-point programme implementation and coordination committee in the state.
“The abovenamed persons, among others, have been actively involved in political activities while holding the government posts…. Such persons being public servants as defined in the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 have failed to perform the public duty, leading to the exploitation of public resources.
“It is submitted that such actions of the public servants will erode the trust of the public in the public functionaries as public servants need to showcase a certain sense of neutrality in their actions and not act as mouthpieces of political parties,” the plea filed through advocate Aditya Raj says.
“The political affiliation of a public servant would result in rampant misuse of a public office for the political gains of the public servant in office and for the undue benefit of the political party which has appointed him,” it says.
The petition lists the Centre, the Delhi government, the state of Rajasthan and the four political leaders as parties.
The petition says free speech cannot be stretched to include the right of public servants to express their political views publicly and associate themselves with a specific political party and the taxpayers’ money cannot be exploited for promoting the agenda of a political party.
“The petitioner prays that this Hon’ble court may issue a writ of mandamus or any other order or direction to the respondents to remove the persons from their posts who have acted or are continuing to act in wilful ignorance of the principle of neutrality and holding any official position in a political party while being a public servant,” the petition says.
It prays for the formation of a committee for framing guidelines for appointment of persons holding official positions in political parties as public servants.
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