Can a in-service employee of 'Air India' be allowed to contest election (Parliament, Legilative, local body), while in service, the Bombay High Court says this is a debatable question and will have to decide on the same.
At present service rules do not allow employees to undertake political activities
A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice N J Jamadar, while admitting the petition filed by Pradeep Dhobley, issued rule and expedited the hearing on the petition. Dhobley through his advocate Uday Warunjikar has filed a petition challenging the communication dated April 3, 2019 issued by Air Indian Engineering Services Limited and also challenging the constitutional validity of Regulation 82 of Air India Employees' Service Regulation ('Service Regulation').
Dhobley had sought permission to contest the Parliament elections and forthcoming Assembly elections. The authority refused permission on the ground of Regulation 82 of the Service Regulation. As per the regulation which deals with the political activities. In clause (i) of the said Regulation, it is stated that no employee shall take part in or associate himself with or subscribe in aid of or assist in any way political or communal organization and in clause (ii) thereof, it is stated that no employee shall take part in an election of the Parliament or to any legislature or local authority.
Advocate Abhay Kulkarni appearing for the respondent argued that "It is submitted that the respondent has no objection to the petitioner's contesting the parliament or of Legislative Assembly, subject to the condition that he should leave his services. It was also asserted that during the subsistence of the services of the petitioner, he cannot contest the election for the reason as prescribed in the Regulation 82 of the Service Regulations."
The bench said "We find that the issue raised in the instant petition is subjudice before the Apex Court in the case of Indian Oil Officers Association & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors. This fact coupled with the argument advanced by Warunjikar, the learned counsel for the petitioner, we are of the opinion that the debatable questions are raised in the matter, therefore, we grant rule. Hearing expedited."
The court though refused to grant interim relief to Dhobley by way of staying the communication, refusing him permission to contest elections. It said "So far as the interim relief is concerned, we are not inclined to grant the same in view of the settled position of law that stay cannot be granted to any Act or Regulation. The prayer for grant of ad-interim relief, as claimed by the petitioner in the instant petition, will amount to stay to Regulation 82 of the Service Regulation. Therefore, we refuse to grant interim relief, as sought, by the petitioner."
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