On Wednesday, the Gujarat High Court has issued a notice to the Government asking for a response against the suspension of the petitioner who was allegedly suspended due to a Facebook comment criticizing the Education Minister of the state vide order dated 28.07.2020.
The petitioner Jignesh kumar Gangarambhai Patel, who is a primary school teacher had admitted an apology and accepted of having undertaken an inappropriate act for a government servant after a show cause notice dated 17.07.2020 was issued against him for his comments on Facebook criticizing the statement of the Minister of Education and also criticizing the functioning of the Secretary of Education and other high rank officials in the Ministry of Education.The Court has sought a reply on the next hearing on 04.09.2020.
A Similar incident happened last month where, the office of the Morbi district primary education officer (DPEO) had issued an order suspending an assistant teacher from service and also got him transferred after he posted allegedly objectionable comments against the Prime Minister and the Central government on Facebook.
In 2019, another such incident took place in Chandigarh, Arvind Rana, a teacher on a contractual basis, was suspended for posting articles and comments on social media, criticizing the policies and actions of the government od Indian as well as Chandigarh Administration.
Such incidents are publicly criticized and many High Courts have even held against such suspensions of Government employees for making critical views for the Government. Recently, the Tripura High Court held that government servants are also entitled right to free speech and can express their political opinions which are subject to certain restrictions laid under Rule 5 of the Tripura Civil Services (Conduct) Rules.
Chief Justice Akil Kureshi while reinstatement of an employee added –
"As a Government servant the petitioner is not devoid of her right of free speech, a fundamental right which can be curtailed only by a valid law.”
The Kerala High Court had ordered dismissing the suspension order of a Professor for making a post in Facebook criticizing the University administration’s act against a student. Justice Mohammad Mustaque, who dealt with the matter, had observed that, being an employee of a particular institution doesn’t seize his right to express his views and belief and freedom of speech. He even said that, every institution in a democratic country is governed by certain democratic norms which cannot be overlooked.
In another judgment by the Kerala High Court, Justice PV Asha reinstated a temple employee who was suspended for his Facebook post insulting Chief Minister and other officials.