Understanding the Provisions for Relief against Government in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908: When are the Actions of Government Servants Actionable?
Within the labyrinthine expanse of Indian law, there exists the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC), a legislative piece that provides the procedural framework for civil disputes in India. One such crucial segment in this Code encompasses provisions for relief against the government, specifically regarding the actions of its servants. The expert legal team at SimranLaw delves deeper into this subject, bringing to the surface years of profound insights and experience.
Provisions for Relief Against Government
The CPC contains specific provisions concerning suits involving the government or any public officers. Primarily, these are laid down in Sections 79 to 82, and Sections 80 & 81 are particularly relevant for discussing relief against government.
- Section 80 – Notice: This section articulates that no suit can be instituted against the government or against a public officer without giving two months’ notice. This provision is intended to give the government or public officer sufficient time to reconsider their legal position and make amends if necessary.
- Section 81 – Exemption from arrest and personal appearance: In any suit against the government, the court may not issue an order for the arrest of a public officer or for his personal appearance in court.
When Are the Actions of Government Servants Actionable?
The actions of government servants become actionable when they perform or fail to perform an act in contravention of any legal duty or rights. It is necessary to discern whether such actions took place during official duty or outside its scope. Furthermore, it is essential to ascertain whether state immunity shields these actions or not.
- Official acts: A government servant is protected under Section 197 of the CrPC if the alleged act is committed during the discharge of official duties. However, for acts outside the realm of official duties, the servant is not immune to prosecution.
- Intentional torts: Government servants cannot claim protection for intentional torts, even if they occurred during the discharge of official duties. The Supreme Court asserted this stand in Kishan Singh vs State of Rajasthan, where police officials committed atrocities while discharging official functions.
Relevant Case Laws & Judgments
- Bhim Singh vs State of J&K (1985): In this case, the court held that Section 80 did not apply if the public servant’s action was not related to any statutory duty. Bhim Singh, a sitting MLA, was wrongfully detained by police officials. This act was ruled as not a part of their official duty, making the government liable for damages.
- State of Gujarat vs Memon Mahomed (1967): The Supreme Court delineated that Section 80 notice is not necessary when a suit’s primary relief pertains to restraining a public officer from performing certain functions.
- Rudul Sah vs State of Bihar (1983): The court awarded compensation to Rudul Sah, making it clear that the state is responsible for unlawful acts committed by its employees in the course of employment.
- Saheli, A Women’s Resource Centre vs Commissioner of Police, Delhi (1990): The court, by awarding compensation, affirmed that even acts committed in gross negligence by public servants can render the state liable.
Exploring the provisions for relief against the government in the Code of Civil Procedure provides the foundation for understanding when actions by government servants are actionable. SimranLaw’s experienced team of legal practitioners continually helps clients navigate these areas of law. However, legal advice should always be personalized and obtained directly from professionals.