The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held the government servants ‘did not violate’ Rule 5 of Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, by meeting RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in Jabalpur during the local body elections in year 2015.
The court dismissed a PIL filed by a group of advocates claiming that certain government officers had violated the conduct rules by meeting the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat during his visit to Jabalpur. He visited at a time when electioneering was going on for mayoral and ward member election.
The petitioner advocates of Democratic Lawyers Forum took the plea that Rule 5 of Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, stated that a government servant should not canvas or otherwise interfere or use his influence in connection with or take part in any election to a legislative body.
However, the respondent government officers, in their reply, denied meeting the RSS chief.
Thus the court dwelled on the issue whether a citizen, including a government officer, has a right to meet any person and the right of privacy to meet a person of his choice.
A division bench comprising of Chief Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Rajeev Kumar Dubey said: “The meeting is said to have taken place in the office of RSS at Keshav Kutir. Meeting a Head of a Group does not show that such Government servant was canvassing or otherwise interfering or using his influence in connection with any election.”
“There is no allegation that the Government servant has influenced any of his subordinates to vote in a particular manner. Therefore, it cannot be said that any Government servant has used his influence in connection with the election,” the court said.
The court dismissed the PIL with observation that “we find the present public interest litigation filed by an Advocate, is a politically motivated petition in as much as the counsel for the petitioner was an agent of the Congress candidate”.
The court further said the dispute is in respect of election of Mayor, which is obviously a political issue. The political issues are settled through ballot, not through writ petition in the court.