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Doctrine of Pleasure (Short Notes)

April 3, 2023


Dr. Y. Srinivasa Rao, Judge.

 Articles. 73 & 162310 and 311 of the Indian Constitution — The pleasure doctrine has its origin in English law, with reference to the tenure of public servants under the Crown. Under the old common law rule a public servant under the British Crown had no tenure but held his position at the absolute discretion of the Crown. The pleasure doctrine was a necessity because, the difficulty of dismissing those servants whose continuance in office was detrimental to the State would, if it were necessary to prove some offence to the satisfaction of a jury (or court) be such, as to seriously impede the working of the public service. (Paras 21, 16 and 17). There is a distinction between the doctrine of pleasure as it existed in a feudal set-up and the doctrine of pleasure in a democracy governed by the rule of law. In a nineteenth century feudal set-up unfettered power and discretion of the Crown was not an alien concept. 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. However, in a democracy governed by the rule of law, where arbitrariness in any form is eschewed, no Government or authority has the right to do what it pleases. Where the rule of law prevails, there is nothing like unfettered discretion or unaccountable action. The withdrawal of pleasure cannot be at the sweet will, whim and fancy of the authority, but can only be for valid reasons. The doctrine of pleasure is not a licence to act with unfettered discretion, to act arbitrarily, whimsically or capriciously. It does not dispense with the need for a cause for withdrawal of the pleasure. (Paras 22, 33 and 34), B.P. Singhal v. Union of India(2010) 6 SCC 331.

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