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Delhi High Court Issues Notice On Plea Challenging Vires Of Civil Defence Act

Akshita Saxena
4 Oct 2021 9:28 AM GMT
Delhi High Court Issues Notice On Plea Challenging Vires Of Civil Defence Act
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The Delhi High Court today issued notice on a petition challenging the vires of the Civil Defence Act, insofar as it allegedly gives unchecked power to the Controller of Civil Defence Corp to discharge any member from the service, without assigning any reason. A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh has asked the Centre and the Delhi Government to file its...

The Delhi High Court today issued notice on a petition challenging the vires of the Civil Defence Act, insofar as it allegedly gives unchecked power to the Controller of Civil Defence Corp to discharge any member from the service, without assigning any reason.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh has asked the Centre and the Delhi Government to file its repose in the matter by 29 November.

The plea filed by a former member of the Corps challenges Section 6(2) of the Act which empowers the Controller of Civil Defence Corp to discharge any member without assigning any reason, if he is of the opinion that continued presence of any member of the Corps is undesirable.

It also impugns Section 14(1) of the Act which allegedly puts an absolute bar against availing judicial remedy against any order made in exercise of any power conferred by or under the Act.

The Petitioner is primarily aggrieved by an order dated 23 March 2020, whereby he was discharged from the membership of the Civil Defence Corps without assigning any reason.

Advocate Satyakam appearing for the Delhi Government questioned the maintainability of a writ on the subject, while arguing that the Corps is a "voluntary force" and is not a service of the Government.

He highlighted that even the allowance paid to the personnel involved is not an honorarium but a mere token of encouragement.

Thus, it was his case that neither the mandate of Constitution under Article 301 nor the principles of Service Jurisprudence are attracted to this case.

"Anybody who is a citizen of India and has attained the age of 18 years can voluntarily join this service. They can tell the Commanding Officer that they have a 9-5 job and can contribute services in spare time for benefit of the civil society," Advocate Satyakam argued.

Unconvinced, Justice Jyoti Singh asked the Respondents to explain the effect of Section 6(2) of the Act in so far as it obligates the Controller to come to a "subjective satisfaction" after an objective evaluation before dismissal of service.

Section 6(2) states: Where the Controller is of opinion that the continued pres­ence of any member of the Corps is undesirable, he may, without assigning any reason, summarily dismiss such member from the Corps.

"He (Controller) has to form an opinion… You're saying its plain voluntary service. But it doesn't seem to be as simple…Statute says subjective satisfaction on objective evaluation," Justice Singh told Advocate Satyakam.

Advocate N Bhushan appearing for the Petitioner also told the Bench that its not a mere voluntary service inasmuch as Civil Defence are being deployed in DM, SDM and Tehsildar offices to perform the works which are usually done by permanent government employees.

Bhushan further highlighted that under the statute, the personnel are liable for punishment in case they are not available on call of duty.

Following this, notice was issued.

The Petitioner claimed to be a member of the Civil Defence Corps since 2014 and to have served on call out duty for a period of five years in the Civil Defence at its north-west district office in Delhi. He also claimed to have completed various training courses during his tenure.

"The discharge order has been issued in complete violation of principle of natural justice…The Petitioner was wrongly deprived of his source of livelihood as well as lost the opportunity to serve the community at large and utilize his hard-earned skills during the pandemic," it has been contended.

Case Title: Faruk Khan v. GNCTD & Anr.

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