Who is a Public Servant?


We often talk about public servants and their duties & responsibilities but how many of us really know who is a public servant? Let's examine ourselves - Are MLAs Public Servants? The answer is "no". The Hon'ble Supreme Court in R.S Nayak v. A.K Antulay held that members of the Legislative Assembly are not a Public Servant. Now, Are MPs Public Servant? The answer is 'Yes'. The Supreme Court in P V Narasimha Rao v. State(1998) held that MPs in a Central or State Government are Public Servants. Although they don't take any remuneration for their work. but they are entrusted to discharge public duty. Therefore, they are a Public Servant.


How can we conclude a person is a Public Servant or not?

The definition has been explained under Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code which basically constitutes people who are Public servants. But it has been explained on the basis of two tests-

1. Whether the person is in the service or on the payroll of the Government.

2. Whether the person is entrusted with the performance of any public duty.


For instance- A teacher as an examiner for a university wasn't considered as a Public Servant in the case - State of Gujarat v. M.P Dwivedi (1972) while a teacher in Railway School was considered as Public Servant because he has been paid by Railway. Although in Dilwar Basu Kurane v. State of Maharashtra(2002) the Court held that a university teacher and examiner is a Public Servant under Section 2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. But they are not a Public Servant under Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code.





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