Can IAS, IPS officers file PILs?
by Amitabh Thakur on 09 Jul 2013 1 Comment

Recently, the writer came across an article, “Akhilesh loses ground in UP, Mulayam loses hope” (The Sunday Guardian, July 6, 2013). It states that, “A certain level of anarchy has been unleashed in the functioning of the (Samajwadi) party.” Among other things it refers to the writer, saying, “Officers in the UP government are also kicking off discipline. A senior PCS officer Hari Shankar Pandey filed an FIR against three IAS officers for harassing him. A senior IPS officer Amitabh Thakur files PILs with an alarming regularity, in complete disregard of service rules.”

This is a direct allegation against the writer. It accuses me of filing PILs on a regular basis, and, in the process, wantonly disregarding service rules, viz., “in complete disregard to service rules.”

Actually, to the best of one’s knowledge, there are no service rules that debar a government servant, including the All India Services officers, from filing PILs. Indeed, there is not even a requirement that a government servant shall take permission from the concerned Government before filing PILs. The All India Service officers are governed by the All India Services (Conduct) Rules 1968 which comprises a total of 23 Rules. None of these Rules, to the best of my knowledge, stops or prohibits any officer from moving to the Court to file PILs or service related matters.

The only bar, if at all, is as regards vindication of acts and character of members of the Service as stated in Rule 17, which says, “No member of the Service shall, except with the previous sanction of the Government have recourse to any court or to the press for the vindication of official act which has been the subject matter of adverse criticism or attack of a defamatory character.”

Thus the Conduct Rules only prohibit going to Court for vindication of official acts.


Interestingly, here again, there is an exception which says, “Explanation. - Nothing in this rule shall be deemed to prohibit a member of the Service from vindicating his private character or any act done by him in his private capacity provided that he shall submit a report to the Government regarding such action.”

What it seems to mean is that the officers don’t need even this previous sanction to vindicate their private character or private act.

Yet, a responsible newspaper like The Sunday Guardian came on record to state that regular filing of PILs by an IPS officer is against Service Rules, which certainly seems to be an incorrect statement.

Though some might regard the matter as not very serious, the writer wants to put the facts on record so that the public is properly informed in the matter. Both the written and the spoken word carry weight, and we should be extremely careful, responsible and accountable for every word we say or write.


For various reasons, we in India seem to have some kind of internal irresponsible attitude towards being held accountable for what we say or write. Thus, we have situations in which see find a Central Minister calling another ex-Central Minister sometimes a thief, sometimes a dacoit, a terrorist or whatever else he feels like.


Similarly, we find so-called intellectuals living in India and calling Kashmir ‘not an integral part’ of this Nation. There are many such examples across the political spectrum. And why only blame the politicians. We see the same traits in social activists, intellectuals, writers, media persons and so on. The reason is that we always have the alibi of later apologizing or even better, saying with a poker face that our statements have been misunderstood and we did not exactly say the thing as it has been interpreted.


We need to put an end to this culture of loose thinking and loose talking which vitiates the public realm. If we start to get serious – or are made to get serious – about what we say and what we write and accept responsibility for our words, we would have made giant strides towards a mature public discourse. We need to deeply ingrain this in our functioning and thinking and my effort to put the record straight is just a very small part of a larger process.


The writer is a serving police officer in Uttar Pradesh

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