Government employees in politics: Court issues interim order against it

The interim order has given hopes as partisan of employees along the political ideology has been directly reflected in the service delivery and favoritism based on affiliation to a particular political party has become visible.

NL Today

  • Read Time 2 min.

Kathmandu: The trend of government employees participating in partisan activities is on the rise in Nepal. 

Of late, government employees take the side of a particular political party and engage in political work to get posted in the ‘lucrative place’ and protection from any action. Almost all political parties have promoted this culture and political parties have shown no sign of quitting the trend. 

Patan High Court, however, has issued an interim order that teachers, civil servants and professors be barred from becoming delegates in the upcoming General Convention of Nepali Congress. 

Responding to a writ filed by Sunil Bohara, a single bench of Judge Mohammad Juden Azad issued a stay order mentioning that those drawing salaries from state coffers should not be allowed to attend the General Convention.

The court has summoned both defendants and plaintiffs on October 24 to decide whether to continue the interim order and has asked the defendants to appear before the court with a written reply.

Civil Service Act, 1993 explicitly bars civil servants to take part in any political activities that compromise service delivery. Article 43 of the act is about restriction on using political or undue influence. The act states: “No civil employee shall, with intention to satisfy his/her personal interests on matters relating to his/her service, exert or attempt to exert any political or other undue influence over any other civil employee”. Similarly, article 44 of the act is related to restriction on taking part in politics. The article mentions that ‘no civil employee shall take part in politics’.

The petition has demanded teachers and professors should also be barred from attending political activities.

Despite the provision, employees’ unions have been formed, mostly as a sister organization of political parties and the practice is deeply rooted even inside Singhadurbar, the major administrative hub of Nepal. Employees are often criticized by the public for not taking any responsibility but engaging in political activities. 

Prohibition of government employees from political activities is considered a reasonable restriction in many countries around the world. 

In the USA, partisan political activities are prohibited to ‘maintain the public’s trust that the Federal programs and activities undertaken by the Department will continue to be administered in a nonpartisan manner’. 

Similarly in India, the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968 bars government employees to take part in any political activities. “No member of the Service shall be a member of, or be otherwise associated with, any political party or any organization which takes part in politics, nor shall he take part in, or subscribe in aid of, or assist in any other manner, any political movement or political activity,” read the rule.