Parshottam Lal Dhingra v. Union of India 1958 AIR 36

Author:- Sonam Chahar is a law student at the Army Institute of Law

Edited by:- Rutvij Vyas is a law student at the faculty of law, GLS University


In this case, the appellant Parshottam was appointed as an officiating chief controller(class II level post) in 1951. Before this, he was in class III post. But in 1953, he was reduced from his current post to a previous class. In the meantime, he appealed before authorities to reconsider their decisions. But he later filed writ petition in the High Court against the railway authority for the reduction of his rank without giving him a chance of being heard. The court gave judgment in favour of the petitioner and said that a fair chance was not given to the petitioner as per provisions of Article 311. Later, against the decision of the High Court, railway authorities(respondent) appealed to the divisional bench and they gave a decision in favour of the authorities. So, to resolve the whole case and to reach a conclusion, the case was appealed to the Supreme Court. The majority opinion was in favour of authorities and mentioned that there is no violation of Article 311.


i)Judgement Cause Title / Case Name – Parshottam Lal Dhingra v. Union of India,1957

ii)Case Number – AIR 36
iii)Judgement Date – 1 Nov, 1957
iv)Court – Supreme Court of India
v)Quorum / Constitution of Bench – Division Bench
vi)Author / Name of Judges – Das, Sudhiranjan, Aiyyar, T.L. Venkataram ,S.K. Sarkar ,A.K Bose, Vivian
vii)Citation – AIR 1958 AIR36
viii)Legal Provisions Involved – Article 310,311 of the Constitution of India

The case is related to services law in India. It talks about the articles included in part 14 of the constitution i.e. 310 and 311. The case is about the reduction of the rank of civil servants who were serving in the Indian Railway service. His rank was reduced from an upper (officiating) position to a lower one. He claimed that his dismissal from the officiating post was not valid as it violated Article 311 of the Indian Constitution. Article 310 talks about the tenure of office of persons serving the union or a state. Article 311 of the Indian Constitution talks about the reduction, removal or dismissal in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under union or state. Exceptions of this article are defence personnel or persons holding military posts. The majority judgement is that Article 311 is applied to persons holding permanent, temporary or officiating posts. The article talks about when the removal or reduction of the post of a person is done as a punishment. In the current case, it is an administrative action to remove the current post of the appellant, not a punishment. But on the other side, the minority judgement is that Bose that the reduction in the rank of the appellant is not by article 311 as he should be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard.


i)Procedural Background of the Case

a. The appellant on 9 February 1955 filed a writ petition in the High court under article 226. Justice Harnam Singh gave judgment in favour of the appellant that the reduction in his post without giving him the opportunity of showing the cause against action is invalid as per article 311(2).

b. Then, an appeal filed by the Union of India against the decision of the High Court in the Divisional Bench of Chief Justice Bhandari and Justice Falshaw. They overruled the decision of the High Court.

c. The case was then appealed in front of the Supreme Court of India.

ii)Factual Background of the Case

a. The appellant name Parshottam Lal Dhingra joined the Railway service as a Signaller. After his promotion in 1942, he was appointed as Section Controller, in1947 as Deputy Chief Controller and in1950 as Chief Controller. All these posts came under class III service.

b. In July 1951, he was appointed as officiate which is class II service as post of assistant Superintendent of railway telegraphs.

c. But after some time,in 1953 it was noticed that some adverse remarks were made on him and stated by seniors that he was reverted to the subordinate posts

  • Whether the removal of the appellant is by provisions of Article 311 of the Constitution of India?
  • Whether the provision of article 311 is include temporary or officiating post of central services?
  • The counsel of Petitioner argued that he was appointed to the higher post but eventually revert to the lower post on grounds claimed by the authorities. He was not even given any reasonable opportunity to be heard and it subsequently violates principle of natural justice. Every person should be equally given chance to present his argument before the actions taken.
  • After his reduction in post, he initially went to General Manager for reconsideration of the action taken but nothing was improved.
  • The petitioner argued that article 311(2) is violated here as it talks about giving fair chance for person to show cause against action. He was not given that opportunity.
  • The counsels for Respondent submitted that the petitioner was appointed only for the temporary purpose i.e. officiating. The removal of him from that post is not any arbitrary action.
  • The grounds  on which his rank was revert was justified as the reports were made about his work and his relations with his colleagues but they all went against him. Reports said that he was not  good at his work on higher post and not eligible for that.
  • The provisions of article 311 were not violated as his removal was a administrative action and article includes the provisions of punitive action for removal or reduction in post.


Article 310 talks about the tenure of the persons under union or a state 

  • Except as expressly provided by this Constitution, every person who is a member of a defence service or of a civil service of the Union or of an all-India service or holds any post connected with defence or any civil post under the Union holds office during the pleasure of the President, and every person who is a member of a civil service of a State or holds any civil post under a State holds office during the pleasure of the Governor of the State
  • Notwithstanding that a person holding a civil post under the Union or a State holds office during the pleasure of the President or, as the case may be, of the Governor 1 of the State, any contract under which a person, not being a member of a defence service or of anal-India service or of a civil service of the Union or a State, is appointed under this Constitution to hold such a post may, if the President or the Governor 2 as the case may be, deems it necessary in order to secure the services of a person having special qualifications, provide for the payment to him of compensation, if before the expiration of an agreed period that post is abolished or he is, for reasons not connected with any misconduct on his part, required to vacate that post.

ii.Article 311 talks about the dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons  employed in civil capacities under the Union or a state

  •  No person who is a member of a civil service of the Union or an all-India service or a civil service of a State or holds a civil post under the Union or a State shall be dismissed or removed by an authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed.
  •  No such person as aforesaid shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges .



  • The majority judgments are passed by CJ Das, Venkatarama Aiyyar, S.K.Das and A.K. Sarkar in favour of respondents that the removal of appellant from his position is not the violation of article 311.
  • The reduction in the post of parshottam is not an punitive action or punishment with accordance to the article 341.
  • Judgement says that it is the administrative action which was taken by railway authorities.
  • The minority judgement was given by justice Vivian that the provisions of article 311(2) says that reasonable opportunity should be given to the persons to the cause against action. In this case, the parshottam was not given reasonable opportunity to present his side, voilates article 311(2)


Important Cases Referred

  • State of Bihar v. Abdul Majid, AIR 1954 SC 245
  • Jayanti Prasad v. The State of Uttar Pradesh AIR1951 ALL 793
  • Gopi Kishan Prasad  v. The state of Bihar AIR 1955 pat 372
  • Shrinivas  Ganesh v. Union of India Air 1956