The Allahabad High Court recently observed that authority and power vested by a democratic system in the hands of the officers and employees of the executive has to be always exercised by them being duty-conscious, rather than such employees/officers being power-charged.
The bench of Justices Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Saurabh Srivastava said, “The officers and authorities of the District Administration as also those of Nagar Palika Parishad concerned have been legally vested certain authority and power which are to be exercised, in all circumstances including a situation where they may be provoked, in good faith and with bona fide intentions. Any deviation from good faith in discharge of the duties and powers by such State authorities cannot, in our constitutional setup, be approved of."
The bench made the observation while delivering judgement in a public interest litigation filed by the district bar association, Amethi, against the “excess" committed by the district administration against its members.
The petitioner’s counsel had alleged that the district administration of Amethi had acted in vengeance against the members of the bar association in order to “teach them a lesson" as they were protesting and raising their voices for the establishment of a civil court in the district.
The counsel alleged that the district administration lodged successive first information reports (FIRs) against current and former office-bearers of the association as well as demolished the structures/buildings owned by them in a short span of 2-3 days.
However, the chief standing counsel representing the state authorities opposed the allegations and submitted that the said buildings, specifically the one belonging to the general secretary of the district bar association, were illegally constructed.
However, the court noted: “Lodging of the FIRs, undertaking demolitions and even making a complaint to the Bar Council of U.P. against the President and formal office bearers and members of the petitioner-Bar Association and cancelling the order of exchange of land under section 161 of U.P.Z.A. & L.R. Act, in a span of less than a week shows not only undue haste on the part of the District Administration but such actions also demonstrate lack of good faith on the part of the authorities of District Administration."
The court said that the minimum which is required of the administrative officers/employees is that they, in all circumstances, will adhere to the law and take action only in accordance with the legal procedure prescribed for the purpose.
The court asked the district magistrate, Amethi, and the members/representatives of the bar council of Uttar Pradesh to sit across the table and redress the genuine grievances of the Amethi bar association.
Moreover, the court expressed hope the members of the bar association would not be unnecessarily harassed and that they will also act in a manner that is expected of the lawyers’ community.
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