2012(4) ALL MR 154
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY (NAGPUR BENCH)

S.A. BOBDE AND P.B. VARALE, JJ.

Satish S/O. Vishwanath Lohar Vs. The State Of Maharashtra & Ors.

Writ Petition No.1008 of 2012

22nd March, 2012

Petitioner Counsel: Shri R.N. GHUGE
Respondent Counsel: Shri D.B. YANGAL

Maharashtra Civil Services (Conduct) Rules (1979), R.3(2) - Expression "all possible steps" - Includes providing police protection to subordinate employee who is faced with threats from anti social elements in this case from those dealing in illegal sand mining operations. (Paras 2, 3)

JUDGMENT

S. A. BOBDE, J. :- Rule returnable forthwith. Heard finally by consent of the learned Counsel for the parties.

2. The petitioner is a Talathi, who is facing difficulties, in discharging his duties particularly in preventing large scale illegal mining of sand for the purpose of manufacturing bricks in his jurisdiction, from anti social elements. According to Shri Ghuge, learned Counsel for the petitioner, though petitioner has made representations to his superiors for Police protection in respect of the threats which he has been receiving from anti social elements, he has not been granted the due protection, as a result of which, he finds it difficult to discharge his duties. The learned Counsel for the petitioner relies on Rule 3 of the Maharashtra Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1979, which reads as follows :

"3. Duty of Government servant to maintain integrity, devotion to duty, etc. -

(1) Every Government servant shall at all times -

(i) maintain absolute integrity;

(ii) maintain devotion to duty; and

(iii) do nothing which is unbecoming of a Government servant.

(2) Every Government servant holding a supervisory post shall take all possible steps to ensure the integrity and devotion to duty of all Government servants for the time being under his control and authority;

(3) No Government servant shall, in the performance of his official duties or in the exercise of powers conferred on him, act otherwise than in his best judgment except when he is acting under the direction of his official superior and shall, where he is acting under such direction, obtain the direction in writing, wherever practicable and where it is not practicable to obtain the direction in writing, he shall obtain written confirmation of the direction as soon thereafter as possible.

(4) Nothing in sub-rule (3) shall be construed as empowering a Government servant to evade his responsibilities by seeking instructions from, or approval of, a superior officer or authority when such instructions are not necessary under the scheme of distribution of powers and responsibilities."

According to learned Counsel Shri Ghuge, the petitioner's superiors are bound to take all possible steps vide sub-rule (2) to ensure that the petitioner can carry out his duties as a Talathi with integrity and devotion, which is not possible if he has to face threats from people against whom action is being taken. The purport of sub-rule (2) is clear and it casts an obligation on the superior Officer to take "all possible steps" to ensure integrity and devotion to duty of all Government servants for the time being under his control and authority. The term "all possible steps", in our view, includes providing, where necessary, Police protection to a subordinate when he points out that he cannot carry out his duties because of threats from anti social elements. Undoubtedly, the superiors are entitled to examine in a given case, if the grievance of the subordinate is genuine or misplaced.

3. In the present case, the respondents have not pleaded that the petitioner's case is not genuine. It seems that there has been complete inaction on the part of the petitioner's superior Officers in spite of requests made by the petitioner on 10/8/2011, 16/8/2011 and 16/12/2011 giving sufficient details of the threats, which he has been receiving to deter him from stopping illegal mining operations. The petitioner appears to be acting in discharge of his duties and trying to solve the serious problem of illegal sand mining, which is being faced by entire State, in his own jurisdiction. In fact, it would be appreciable if all such Officers entrusted with these obligations, discharge their duties with the same sincerity and zeal. It is well known that law enforcement Officers have been facing threats to their well being and even life when they are attempting to discharge their duties, particularly against organized illegal operations in various sectors. In all such cases, the superior Officers would be bound to provide protection to such Officers.

4. In the circumstances, rule is made absolute in terms of prayer clause (a) of the petition, which reads as follows :

"(a) direct the respondents to forthwith take all such necessary steps and seek and provide Police protection to the petitioner for discharging his duties as Talathi, Gajipur."

No order as to costs.

Petition admitted.