Rajindar Sachar, J.
(1) This petition was filed in this court challenging the dismissal of the petitioner by the Commandant, Delhi Armed Police by his order of 9th July, 1968. The appeal filed, and then further as revision also failed as per the order of the Inspector General of Police, Delhi dated 5-6-1969. The dismissal was a sequel to what is common by known as 'agitation of Delhi Policemen in 1967'.
(2) It appears that the policemen in Delhi had been agitating for improvement of their conditions of service and some other demands. The demands of the policemen were apparently supported by quite number of organisations including political parties. In that context a meeting sponsored by Samyukat Socialist Party (S.S.P.) was held on 1-8-1967 at Kingsway camp crossing, in support of the demand of the Delhi policemen and also to plead the cases of dismissed or suspended policemen. The petitioner was charged that he took part in that meeting and this amounted to grave misconduct as taking part in a political meeting in contravention of the Punjab Police Rules 14.30(1) and Rule 5(1) of the Central Civil Services (C) Rules, 1964.
(3) Though the petitioner denied having attended the meeting the finding of the Enquiry officer was that the petitioner did attend the meeting which was held by the S.S.P. and addressed by their leaders. It is also clear from the finding that apart from having sat in the meeting the petitioner played no part in organising or speaking in the meeting. The diciplinary authority however held that the presence of the petitioner in the meeting was enough to attract the applicability of Punjab Police Rules 14.30(1) and Rule 5 of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rule as and thereforee awarded the penalty of dismissal to him. This order was upheld in appeal and revision. To complete the story it appears that later on there was a review of some of the cases and the Government took a policy decision to convert the order of dismissal into an order of removal. Accordingly, the Lt. Governor passed the order dated 15th April, 1971 converting the 'dismissal' order into removal order with respect to the petitioner and some others. The petitioner was not reinstated in the police department but was offered fresh appointment in the B.S.F. on 24-5-1971 (as mennoned by him in the amended petition). The petitioner however refused this offer as according to him this would have meant a break in service and starting his career afresh. He, thereforee, prayed for quashing the dismissal order as upheld up to revisional stage as well as removal order dated 15-4-1971.
(4) The short point before me is whether the petitioner who on the finding of the authorities attended a public meeting sponsored by the S.S.P. and contravened the said rules. Rules are as under :
'14.30(1)No police officer shall take part in or subscribe in aid of any political movement in India or relating to Indian affairs. Where there is no room for doubt whether action, which a police officer proposes to take, contravenes this rule the orders of the Inspector General shall be obtained'. '5 ( I ). No. Government servant shall be a member of. or be otherwise associated with, any political party or any organisation which takes part in politics nor shall he take part in, subscribe in aid of, or assist in any other manner, any political movement or activity'.
(5) Proceedings against the petitioner were started on the report made by Inspector Kishan Singh on 2-8-1967. The petitioner was stated to be present in the meeting. It was reported that the meeting sponsored by the Ssp was held near the Kingsway Camp crossing on 1-8-1967 between 1900 hrs. and 2200 hrs. The meeting was held by the political party to plead the case of the dismissed and suspended police personnel. About 3 to 4 hundred men attended the meeting. Four leaders were said to have spoken at the meeting, these men touched upon matters relating to police strike and showed sympathy with police personnel. It was also stated that all of them were pleading the cause of police personnel dismissed or under suspension.
(6) It is relevant to note that the report only mentions the presence of the petitioner in the meeting. There is not even a suggestion that he spoke or organized a meeting. As a matter of fact amongst the speakers there was senior advocate of this court and a sitting M.P. and an ex-Cabinet Minister of the present Government. The only reason why the authorities have held that the rules have been contravened is because of their assumption that as the meeting was sponsored by the S.S.P. which was undoubtedly a political party the same amounted to the petitioner taking part or subscribing in aid of a political movement as mentioned in Rule 14.30 and also being associated with a political party in terms of Rule 5(1) of Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964. I cannot agree. The fact that a meeting was held by a political party to voice its support to the demand of Delhi Policemen could not make the presence of the petitioner as participating in aid of the political movement. The meeting was a public meeting and it was open to any man in the street to attend. No special right of admission was reserved for attending a public meeting. In a country with democratic traditions and rights guaranteed to citizen, attending a public meeting held peaceably by any lawful organisation cannot be taboo. Free India can not and does not have serves even if the employer is the Government. A government servant cannot lose his constitutional rights to learn about public issues by being informed at public meetings. Passive attendance at a public meeting can by no stretch of imagination be equated to aiding a political movement or being associated with a political party. As a matter of fact not even Central Government has accepted the practicability of such complete isolation of a citizen who is also a government servant, from being informed and alert citizen. Government servant is not expected to have as its companions only the dust and old ink of files. Fresh air cannot be a hindrance to the efficient working of the government servant. Presence at a meeting held to support the demands of Delhi policemen, to which force the petitioner belongs, makes the activity even less objectionable, presence is to listen to the people supporting its economic demands, the ideology of the sponsor of the meeting being a matter of indifference to the petitioner. Colonial outlook in the matter of the rights of government servants ill befits the citizens of free republican country. The broad contention that persons in the service of the government form a class apart to whom the guarantee of fundamental rights are not applicable was negatived in Kameshwar Prasad and others vs . State of Bihai and another, : (1962)ILLJ294SC . As a matter of fact Supreme Court in O. K. Ghosh and another vs . E. X. Joseph, : (1962)IILLJ615SC quashed departmental proceedings against a government employee where the charge was based on the allegation that the government servant had participated in demonstrations organized in connection with the strike of Central Government employees. In the present case the charge is totally unsustainable being at the worst sitting passively in a meeting sponsored by a political party in support of the demands of the petitioner and other policemen. The action is totally outside the purview of the Rules. As a matter of fact the Central Government by its memorandum No. 25/44/49-Estts (A) dated 17th September, 1949 has clarified that the attendance at meeting organized by a political party would be contrary to Rule 23(i) of the Government Servants' Conduct Rules (now Rule 5) Unless all the following conditions are satisfied :
'(A)that the meeting is a public meeting and not in any sense a private or restricted meeting (b) that the meeting is not held contrary to any prohibitory order or without permission where permission is needed; and (c) that the Government servant in question does not himself speak at, or take active or prominent part in organising or conducting, the meeting.'
(7) This clearly shows that the attendance at a meeting organized by a political party even according to the government circular will not always amount to violation of Government Servant's Conduct Rules. In the present case the charge at the most is of sitting in a public meeting sponsored by the S.S.P. in support of the demand of the Delhi police. This would not even in terms of the government circular itself amount to contravention of any of the rules. It is, thereforee, surprising that after 30 years of the said memorandum the petitioner should have been charged for the said contravention of the rules which according to the government's own memorandum does not amount to any violation. Reference in this connection may be made to a decision of this court in Ajit Singh vs. Kirpal Singh 1972 Slr 768 which has also held that the participation in a meeting by a policeman which was organized by Delhi Confederation of Central Government Employees and though the same was addressed by the political leaders does not amount to violation of Punjab Police Rules 14.30(1) and Rule 5(1) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964. Mr. Talwar however seeks to distinguish it by urging that the said meeting wa's held by the Central Government Employees Federation and further it was held in New Delhi Municipal Committee hall in which the members of the public could not enter as a matter of right. In my view this distinction is of no consequence. The fact that a meeting was held in a hall does not make it a private meeting because the invitation was to every member of the public to attend. No special invitations were issued for the meeting. As a matter of fact, a person's attendance is an open public meeting if anything else is less objectionable then at a meeting which is held in a closed hall even though it is open to the public. In the present case the meeting was held in Kingsway Camp crossing and the petitioner's attendance was like that of any other citizen. I do not think there is any justification in law where attendance of a meeting by a Government servant should invite the inference of being as supporter of the party resulting into dismissal, The government servant is no doubt expected to be neutral so far as his acction with respect to various political parties is concerned, but the attendance in a meeting even held by a political party in support of the demand of petitioner's service would hardly make the action political. As the charge against the petitioner did not contravene any of the rules, it is obvious that the impugned orders of his dismissal (later on converted into removal) from service and the appellate and the revisional orders confirming the said order are without authority of law and must be and are hereby quashed.
(8) In the result the petition is allowed as above with costs.
(9) In the petition Mr. Dar, as usual has raised a number of points against the legality of the impugned orders of the respondent but as the petition is being allowed on this point, I have not thought necessary to hear him on those other points.