The Supreme Court on Friday held that "Doctrine of Pleasure" under which certain authorities hold office till s/he enjoys the confidence of the President or the Governor is not absolute and unrestricted and cannot be at the authority's sweet will, whim and fancy.
"It is of some relevance to note that the Doctrine of Pleasure in its absolute unrestricted application does not exist in India. The said doctrine is severely curtailed in the case of government employment," a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said.
The court passed the order while curtailing the power of the Central government in removing Governors in the middle of five-year tenure without any valid reason.
The Bench held that the court can interfere if such actions have been taken arbitrarily and the government has to explain before it.
"... at pleasure doctrine enables the removal of a person holding office at the pleasure of an Authority, summarily, without any obligation to give any notice or hearing to the person removed, and without any obligation to assign any reasons or disclose any cause for the removal, or withdrawal of pleasure. The withdrawal of pleasure cannot
be at the sweet will, whim and fancy of the Authority, but can only be for valid reasons," the court said.
The bench held that power to remove them "will have to be exercised in rare and exceptional circumstances for valid and compelling reasons".
"A Governor cannot be removed on the ground that he is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the Union Government or the party in power at the Centre. Nor can he be removed on the ground that the Union Government has lost confidence in him."
"The doctrine of pleasure as originally envisaged in England was a prerogative power which was unfettered. It meant that the holder of an office under pleasure could be removed at any time, without notice, without assigning cause, and without there being a need for any cause. But where rule of law prevails, there is nothing like unfettered discretion or unaccountable action," the court said.
"When the Constitution of India provides that some offices will be held during the pleasure of the President, without any express limitations or restrictions, it should, however, necessarily be read as being subject to the fundamentals of constitutionalism," the court said.