Article 311 of Indian Constitution: Constitutional Safeguards to Civil Servants, Doctrine of Pleasure

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Article 311 of Indian Constitution deals with the dismissal, removal, or reduction in rank of a public servant employed by the Union or a State government. Services under the Union and the State are covered under Part XIV of the Indian Constitution. The recruitment and employment terms of individuals assigned to public offices and services in connection with the business of the Union or of any State, respectively, are subject to regulation by the Parliament and the State legislatures under Article 309. The President or Governor’s unrestricted authority to fire an official, remove them from office, or lower their rank is subject to several limitations under Article 311.

The Article here discusses all the important provisions of the Article 311, including 311(1) and 311(2). It also discusses the Doctrine of Pleasure, the Constitutional Safeguards to Civil Servants and more, which could be asked in the upcoming UPSC 2023 Exam.

Article 311 of Indian Constitution

Article 311 provides the dismissal or removal of persons employed as civil servants under the union and in different states. The main aim of Article 311 of the Indian Constitution is to protect civil personnel. Article 311 clauses (1) and (2) protects government officials against arbitrary removal from their jobs. It assists them in responding to charges in an investigation so that city workers are not terminated arbitrarily.

According to Article 311(1)

No government employee from the all-India service or a state government can be dismissed or removed by an authority subordinate to the one who appointed them.

Article 311(2) of the Indian Constitution

No government employee must be dismissed, demoted, or lowered in rank unless and until they have been told of the charges and given a reasonable chance to be heard on those allegations.

Exceptions to Article 311(2) of the Indian Constitution

  • Conviction on a criminal charge: When a person is fired, suspended, or asked to resign because of actions that resulted in a criminal case being filed against them.
  • Impracticability: When the authority with the power to dismiss, remove or decrease a person’s status is convinced that it is impossible to undertake such an investigation for some reason that must be documented in writing by that authority.
  • Security reasons: When the President or Governor, as the case may be, determines that it is not in the state’s best interests to conduct such an investigation.

Doctrine of Pleasure

The Indian Constitution’s Article 310, also referred to as the Theory of Pleasure or Doctrine of Pleasure, provides that civil workers serve at the pleasure of the President of the Union and the Governors of the individual states. Defence personnel is also in office under Article 310, in contrast to Article 311, where only civil (public officials) are entitled to dismissal or removal. However, they are exempt from the prohibitions of Article 311.

Therefore, the officials chosen under Article 310 are susceptible to dismissal, removal, or rank reduction under Article 311 and serve at the administration’s discretion. Finally, the decision made by the appropriate authority about the necessity of conducting an inquiry shall be definitive (Article 311(3)).

Article 311: Constitutional Safeguards to Civil Servants

Only civil servants, i.e., public officers, are covered by the protective provisions of Article 311. These include:

  • Civil service of the Union.
  • All India Services.
  • Civil service of any State.
  • People with a civil position or rank in the Union or any State.

Defence personnel are not covered under Article 311.

Process of a Departmental Enquiry Under Article 311 of Indian Constitution

The public servant is handed a formal charge sheet containing the charges once an inquiry officer is appointed in a departmental investigation. The government servant has the option of representing himself or hiring a lawyer.

During the departmental investigation, witnesses can be questioned, after which the inquiry officer can create a report and submit it to the government for further action.

The Supreme Court ruled that a government servant’s deserved chance be heard Under Article 311 includes the following:

  • An opportunity to deny their guilt and prove their innocence, which they can only do if they know what accusations have been levelled against them and what allegations are being used to support those charges.
  • An opportunity to defend themselves by cross-examining the witnesses called against them and questioning themselves or other witnesses supporting their case.
  • The disciplinary authority must provide a copy of the inquiry officer’s report to the delinquent civil servant for observations and comments before the disciplinary authority considers the report.

Article 311 UPSC

Article 311 of the Indian Constitution is covered under the polity section of the UPSC Syllabus. A candidate needs to practice UPSC Prelims Previous Year Question Papers to understand the UPSC Exam Pattern well.

Article 311 UPSC Questions

Question: Which of the following articles of the Indian Constitution provides for All Indian Services?

  1. Article 310
  2. Article 311
  3. Article 312
  4. Article 313

Answer: Option C

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