O.K. Ghosh vs. E.X. Joseph

In the Supreme Court of India

Name of the CaseO.K Ghose v. E.X. Joseph
Citation1963 AIR 812, 1963 SCR Supl. (1) 789
Year of the Case30/10/1962
AppellantO.   K. Ghosh and another
RespondentE. X. Joseph
Bench/JudgesP.B. Gajendragadkar, Sinha, Bhuvneshwar p.(CJ)Wanchoo, K.N. Gupta, K.C. Das6.  J.C Shah,
Acts InvolvedCentral Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955 and The Constitution of India
Important SectionsRule 4 (a) and (b) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955


Articles, Rules, and Sections of statutes have always been open to interpretations, due to which we have received various judgments on the same provisions based on their interpretation by different courts, in different situations by various learned Judges and Constitutional Benches. One such case is O.K Ghose v. E.X. Joseph highlights the superiority of Fundamental Rights of a citizen over Civil Service, Departmental Rules, and obligations framed for the General Administration, discipline, and ethics.  


This case talks about the importance and superiority of the Fundamental Rights of a citizen. In this case, we can see how Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955 and the Constitutional Law clashed and overlapped each other. This is one of the important cases because here we can take a note that Constitutional rights are superior compared to all the other provisions. This case talks about Rule 4 (a) and (b) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955 according to which, Rule 4 (a) provides that no Government servant shall participate in any demonstration or resort to any form of strike in connection with any matter about his condition of service.

Rule 4 (b) lays down that no Government servant shall join or continue to be a member of any Service Association of Government servants : (a) which has not, within six months from its formation, obtained the recognition of the Government under the Rules prescribed in that behalf, or (b) recognition in respect of which has been refused or withdrawn by the Government under the said Rules.


  1. E.X Joseph (Respondent) was a government employee working in the Audit and Accounts Department at Bombay. He was the secretary of the civil accounts association which was affiliated to the All Non-Gazetted Audit and Accounts Association. The Association comprised of a non-gazetted staff of the Accountant-General’s Office. The Association was recognized in December 1956, but the Government of India in 1959 withdrew the recognition. Even after this withdrawal, the respondent i.e E.X Joseph refused to disassociate with the organization and continued to be its Secretary-General. Due to this conduct of his, on or about 3rd of June 1960, he was charged to have deliberately breached Rule 4 (a) and (b) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955.
  2. An inquiry was therefore conducted by the Accountant-General of Maharashtra, Mr. O.K Ghosh (Appellant 1) which found Respondent- E.X Joseph guilty of all the charges leveled on him. Hence, a show-cause notice of why should he not be removed was sent accordingly. On the 25th of July 1960, the appellant intimidated the respondent by a memo that there will be an inquiry against him to have participated actively in various demonstrations organized in connection with the strike of Central Government employees and to have taken an active part in the preparations made for the said strike.
  3. The respondent then filed a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution in the Bombay High Court. He prayed that a writ of Certiorari shall be issued concerning quash the allegations to have breached Rule 4 (a) and (b) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955. Further, he also asked the court to issue a writ of prohibition against Appellant 1 to not proceed with the departmental proceedings. The respondent challenged the validity of the departmental proceedings solely because he thought that Rule 4 (a) and (b) violate the fundamental rights guaranteed to him namely- Article 19 (1) (a), (b), (c), and (g). 
  4. Appellant 1 and 2 (Union of India) urged the court claiming that the following impugned rules were valid and the writs of Certiorari and Prohibition may be disposed of. The High Court on the 18th of January, 1951 rejected the petition as the respondent had claimed writs on the inquiry of Rule 4 (a). They were also of the opinion that the Rules were valid and the departmental inquiry against the respondent can not be disposed of, whereas the court opined that Rule 4 (b) was invalid and therefore the departmental inquiry against the respondent for the breach of the said Rule has been quashed.
  5. Challenging the decision of the court concerning holding Rule 4 (b) invalid, appellants 1 and 2 approached the Supreme Court. Both, appellants 1 and 2, and respondent 1 approached the court with two different appeals, both these appeals were brought to this court by Special leave.


  1. Whether the High Court of Bombay was at error to have declared Rule 4 (b) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955 invalid.
  2. Whether Rule 4 (a) is invalid and the Bombay High Court was wrong to have declared it void.

Related Provisions

  1. Rule 4 (a) and (b) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955
  2. Article 226
  3. Article 19(1) (a), (b), (c) and (g)
  4. Article 19(4)
  5. Article 309
  6. Article 33 

Related Cases

The court, in this case, relied on 2 cases namely- Kameshwar Prasad vs. The State of Bihar1 and The Superintendent Central Prison, Fatehgarh vs. Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia2.

In Kameshwar Prasad vs. The State of Bihar where the court held that Rule 4 (a) in the present, prohibits any form of demonstration as violative of the Government servant’s rights under Art. 19 (1) (a) and (b) and should, therefore, be struck down.

In the next case that is The Superintendent Central Prison, Fatehgarh vs. Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia thecourt read the two requirements mentioned in Article 19 (4) which states that the impugned restriction can be said to have satisfied the test of the said clause of Article 19 only if its connection with the public order is shown to be rationally proximate and direct.


The court agreed upon the judgment pronounced by the High Court in Kameshwar Prasad vs. The State of Bihar which stated thatRule 4 (a) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955 is partly and not wholly invalid. Further, the court said that the respondent was charged on the invalid part of the Rule and the departmental proceedings were also based on the invalid part, therefore the departmental proceedings and the Rule were held to be invalid. Therefore, Appeal number No. 379/1962 was allowed and the departmental proceedings which were instituted against him for the breach of Rule 4 (a) and (b) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955 were accordingly quashed and Appeal number Appeal 378/62 was accordingly dismissed.

Concepts Highlighted

In this case, we understand that all the other laws are followed by the constitutional Law. Whenever the Provisions of the Constitutional Law has been challenged or whenever the Constitutional law and another provision has been challenged or has ever overlapped, priority has always been shown to the Constitutional Law. We can see this in many landmark judgments that have carved themselves in the history of law. This case is the best example when spoke about Constitutional law overlapping with another law. Here we see how Rule 4 (a) and (b) even after being valid, were held invalid due to them violating the Provision of Article 19 (1) (a), (b), (c), and (g). We can also make a note on how important role precedents have to play in pronouncing judgment. Even though these Rule 4 (a) and (b) were valid, and could have been enforced were still quashed.

Though on the contrary if seen, from the beginning the respondent was at fault for not disassociating even after knowing the fact that the Association has been dissolved and that he was found guilty to have breached Rule 4 (a) and (b) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955  and to have been a part of certain unethical activities, even then the court quashed both, the Rule 4 (a) and the Departmental Enquiry against him on the mere contention that these Rules- Rule 4 (a) and (b) of the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1955 violate his Fundamental Rights- Article 19 (1) (a), (b), (c) and (g).   

Articles, Rules, and Sections of statutes have always been interpreted in various ways because of which we have got landmark judgments such as the Keshavnanda Bharti, Triple Talaaq, or Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. We could note a judgment like this in O.K Ghose vs. E.X Joseph because of the Bench who had the liberty to have been able to interpret the laws in their way.

End notes

  1. 1962 SCR Supl. (3) 369
  2. A.I.R. 1960 S.C. 633


  1. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1681994/

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