1 IN THE HIGH COURT OF JHARKHAND AT RANCHI W.P. (S) No. 12 of 2011 Satyadeo Kumar son of Rajvanshi Ram, resident of Qr. No.B/423, Sector-II, Dhurwa, P.O. Dhurwa, P.S. Jagannathpur, District Ranchi. .... Petitioner Versus 1. State Bank of Patiala through its Deputy General Manager, Zonal Office, Second Floor, N.B.C.C. Place, Opposite Sai Mandir, Bhism Pitamah Marg, Lodi Road, P.O. and P.S. Lodi Road, New Delhi.
2. Assistant General Manager-III (D), State Bank of Patiala, Regional Office, Lucknow 21, Bidhan Sabha Marg, P.O. & P.S. Lucknow, District Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh).
3. Branch Manager, State Bank of Patiala, Chamber Bhawan, Kadru More, P.O. Doranda, P.S. Argora, District Ranchi. ... Respondents --- CORAM : HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE PRAMATH PATNAIK --- For the Petitioner : Md. Mr. Afaque Ahmed, Advocate For the Respondents : M/s Binay Kr. Pathak & Akhouri Pratik, Advocates ----- CAV on 02.05.2016 Pronounced on 09/09/ 2016 Per Pramath Patnaik, J.
In the accompanied writ application, the petitioner has inter-alia prayed for quashing of the letter dated 23.07.2009 issued by respondent no.2 relating to infliction the penalty of removal from services with post retiral benefits, in terms of para-6 Clause (b) of memorandum of settlement on disciplinary action and procedure thereof for workmen signed between Indian Banking Association and Unions of Workmen on 10 th April, 2002, and for quashing of the order dated 23.11.2009 passed by respondent no.1 rejecting the appeal of the petitioner vide Annexure-7 to the writ petition, and for direction to the respondents to reinstate the petitioner on the post of Single Window Operator (SWO) with all consequential benefits.
2. Bereft of unnecessary details, the brief facts as disclosed in the writ application, are that petitioner while continuing service as Single Window Operator at Patna Branch, some financial irregularities were alleged to have 2 been committed by him. On 30.12.2008, the petitioner received a letter with regard to fictitious entries in his account and was advised to explain the reason for withdrawing of Rs.1,93,500/- from the account holder mentioned in the said letter and he was asked to submit his reply. The petitioner submitted his reply immediately, and thereafter the petitioner voluntarily deposited the amount which was withdrawn by him. The respondents authorities decided to frame charges against the petitioner and accordingly charges were served on the petitioner, and the petitioner submitted his reply explaining the compelling circumstances under which the petitioner committed the alleged irregularities. Subsequently, a show cause dated 26.06.2009 was served on the petitioner imposing proper penalty of dismissal from services. In the proceeding, the inquiry officer vide its report dated 30.04.2009 found the petitioner guilty of charges because of his admission of charges voluntarily and without any undue influence or coercion. The disciplinary authority on the basis of finding of the inquiry officer issued the show cause to petitioner dated 26.06.2009 to which the petitioner submitted his reply on 06.07.2009 on the basis of findings of the inquiry officer. The disciplinary authority passed an order vide letter dated 23.07.2009 whereby the said authorities decided to inflict the penalty of removal from services with superannuation benefits i.e. pension and provident fund and gratuity. Being aggrieved by the impugned order of punishment, the petitioner preferred an appeal before the respondent no.1 and the appellate authority vide order dated 23.11.2009 has been pleased to reject the appeal.
3. Learned counsel for the petitioner, during course of hearing, has strenuously urged that the impugned order of punishment of removal from 3 services on the alleged charges of gross negligence though monetary loss has been caused to the bank, is shockingly disproportionate and harsh to the alleged charges because of fact that as per the memorandum of settlement dated 10.04.2002 Para 6 Clause (b) of the said memorandum relates to gross and minor misconduct. In this respect, learned counsel for the petitioner has referred to the decision of the Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of Collector Singh Vs. L.M.L. Limited, Kanpur as reported in (2015) 2 SCC410and also referred to the decision of the Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of Kailash Nath Gupta Vs. Enquiry Officer, (R.K. Rai), Allahabad Bank and Others as reported in (2003) 9 SCC480 The charges which have been levelled against the petitioner comes under Para 7(d) of the said memorandum and not under Para 6(b) of the memorandum. Therefore, the respondent authorities ought to have inflicted the punishment under Para 7(d) and not under Para 6(b) of the said memorandum. Learned counsel for the petitioner further submits that the order passed by the respondents is non-speaking, cryptic and non-reasoned order moreover, the appellate authority has passed the order which is a non-speaking one. In this respect, learned counsel for the petitioner has referred to the decision of the Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of G. Vallikumari Vs. Andhra Education Society And Others as reported in (2010) 2 SCC497 in particular paragraph nos. 19 and 20, wherein the Hon'ble Apex Court has inter-alia pleased to hold that non-recording reasons by the disciplinary authority and simply referring to the findings of the inquiry report vitiate due to non-compliance of principle of natural justice.
4. Per-contra a counter-affidavit has been filed controverting the averments made in the writ application. Learned counsel for the respondents has reiterated the submissions made in the counter-affidavit. Learned counsel for the 4 respondents-Bank submits that because of the gross misconduct committed by the petitioner and the same has been proved in the inquiry proceeding because of one admission by the petitioner. The punishment of removal from services has been inflicted on the petitioner. Moreover, the action on the part of the petitioner comes under the purview of gross misconduct. Learned counsel for the respondents-bank submits that entire banking institution runs upon the trust of the customer and the bank is the custodian of the public money as such the bank cannot allow any bank employee to do gross misconduct and dishonesty otherwise the entire banking system would collapse.
5. After hearing learned counsel for the respective parties at length and on perusal of the records, I am of the considered view that the petitioner has not been able to make out a case for interference due to the following facts and reasons stated hereinbelow: (I) As per the charges, the petitioner unauthorizedly indulged in withdrawing amount of Rs.1,93,500/- from the account of the deceased person namely Sh. Dharmender Kumar and the petitioner has admitted all the charges voluntarily, unconditionally in the inquiry proceeding. Subsequently, the amount of Rs.1,93,500/- has been deposited by the petitioner. From the aforesaid facts, there is no doubt or debate that the petitioner has committed gross/grave misconduct and the action of the petitioner has resulted in the loss of confidence and the trust of the customers because the bank is the custodian of public money. (II) The view of this Court gets fortified by the celebrated judgment of Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of Suresh Pathrella Vs. Oriental Bank of Commerce reported in (2006) 10 SCC572in particular at paragraph nos. 21 and 22, which are quoted hereunder:- 5 21. In Chairman and MD, United Commercial Bank Vs. P.C. Kakkar, this Court said in para 14 at SCC PP. 376-77 as under:
“14. A bank officer is required to exercise higher standards of honesty and integrity. He deals with the money of the depositors and the customers. Every officer/employee of the bank is required to take all possible steps to protect the interests of the Bank and to discharge his duties with utmost integrity, honesty, devotion and diligence and to do nothing which is unbecoming of a bank officer. Good conduct and discipline are inseparable from the functioning of every officer/employee of the bank. As was observed by this Court in Disciplinary Authority-cum-Regional Manager Vs. Nikunja Bihari Patnaik, it is no defence available to say that there was no loss or profit resulted in case, when the officer/employee acted without authority. The very discipline of an organisation more particularly a bank is dependent upon each of its officers and officers acting and operating within their allotted sphere. Acting beyond one's authority is by itself a breach of discipline and is a misconduct. The charges against the employee were not casual in nature and were serious. These aspects do not appear to have been kept in view by the High Court.
22. In the present case the appellant acted beyond his authority in breach of the Bank's regulation. Regulation 3(1) of the Bank's Regulations required that every officer of the Bank at all times takes all possible steps to protect the interest of the Bank and discharge his duties with utmost integrity, honesty, devotion and diligence and do nothing which will be unbecoming of a bank officer. It ia a case of loss of confidence in the officer by the bank. In such a situation, it would be a futile exercise of judicial review to embark upon the decision of the disciplinary authority removing the officer from service, preceded by an enquiry, and to direct the bank to take back the officer in whom the bank has lost confidence, unless the decision to remove the officer is tainted with mala fides, or in violation of principles of natural justice and prejudice to the officer is made out. No such case is made out in the present case. 6 (III) On perusal of the charges, show cause reply to charges, inquiry findings and reply to the show cause notices, the disciplinary authority has passed the order of removal from services vide order dated 23.07.2009 with superannuation benefits i.e. pension, provident fund and gratuity as would be due under the rules and regulations in terms of para-6 clause (b) of the memorandum of Settlement, Disciplinary action and procedure thereof for workmen vide Annexure-8 to the writ petition. Therefore, there is absolutely no infirmity or illegality in the impugned order dated 23.07.2009 passed by the disciplinary authority nor the order dated 23.11.2009 passed by the appellate authority suffers non-application of mind. (IV) There is absolutely no quarrel over the proposition to the decision cited by the learned counsel for the petitioner, but in the facts and circumstances of the case, the aforesaid decisions are not applicable in the case at hand.
6. In view of the reasons stated hereinabove and as logical sequitur to the aforesaid reasons, this Court is not inclined to interfere with the impugned order dated 23.07.2009 vide Annexure-6 and the order of the appellate authority dated 23.11.2009 vide Annexure-7 to the writ application. Hence, the writ petition sans merit is dismissed. (Pramath Patnaik, J.) RKM/- N.A.F.R.