On Friday, the Delhi High Court will hear a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) matter objecting to appointing persons holding essential positions in political parties as public servants at several government posts.
Lawyer Sonali Tiwary filed a petition which says “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 causing huge losses to the public exchequer, and 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 official position within a political party negates this very purpose.
The plea also cites the selection 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 program implementation and coordination committee in the state.
The abovenamed persons, among others, have been actively involved in political activities while holding government posts. Such folks being public servants as defined in the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, have failed to perform their general duty, leading to the exploitation of public resources.
Advocate Aditya Raj also filed a petition stating, “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 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.
The petition mentions the Centre, the Delhi Government, the state of Rajasthan, and four political leaders as parties. The petition also says free speech cannot be stretched to include the right of public servants to express their political thoughts publicly and associate themselves with a particular party, and taxpayer’s money can’t be exploited to promote the agenda of a political party.