In this present case of Trilochan Dash v. Chairman-cum-Managing Director, the Union Bank of India & Others issued Writ Petition which involves a challenge to the order of termination being passed by the Disciplinary Authority and the order of rejection of appeal involving termination of the petitioner by the Appellate Authority and thereby directing the opposite parties to reinstatement the petitioner in service with all service benefits.
Brief Facts of the Case
The petitioner joined the Union Bank of India as a Clerk-cum-Cashier in Angul Branch On 28.05.1977. In May 1985, petitioner was promoted to the post of Head Cashier and his next promotion would have been to the post of Scale-I Officer.
On 02.12.1999, when the petitioner was working as a ‘C’ category Head Cashier in the Union Bank of India, Puri Branch, he was suspended by the Assistant General Manager, Regional Office, Bhubaneswar.
Pending initiation of a Disciplinary Proceeding, a departmental proceeding was initiated. On 16.03.2000 charge-sheet was communicated to the petitioner. On the allegations made therein, the petitioner submitted his explanation denying all the allegations made against him. On 10.06.2000, in response to the same, the Disciplinary Authority intimated to the petitioner, that the Disciplinary Authority is not satisfied with the defence plea, thus, one of the opposite party was appointed as Enquiry Officer.
As a consequence, the Enquiry Officer communicated to the petitioner that he has been appointed as an Enquiry Officer-cum-Disciplinary Authority to enquire into the allegations involving the petitioner. Upon completion of the enquiry, the Enquiry Officer communicated his assessment in the enquiry on 31.05.2001 and thereby suggesting punishment of dismissal from service from the Bank with stoppage of increment for 6 months. On 28.06.2001 personal hearing was conducted by an Enquiry Officer and finally passed the order of punishment and giving scope for filing of an appeal.
Then, the petitioner has filed an appeal before the Appellate Authority, but the Appellate Authority has also dismissed the appeal.
Arguments Raised before the High Court
The Petitioner’s Counsel argued upon the position of Enquiry Officer and the provision of the service rules of the Bank called as ‘Union Bank of India Officer Employees’ (Discipline and Appeal) Regulations, 1976’, contended that the provision therein Enquiry Officer can never act as a Disciplinary Authority of the Petitioner. In addition to the above, he also challenged the enquiry proceeding for having no merit. The learned counsel also contended that the order of the Appellate Authority is a biased one, as the Appellate Authority has not taken into account the points raised by the petitioner in the memorandum of appeal, more particularly, in the matter of competency of Enquiry Officer to punish the petitioner. It was also claimed that the enquiry report is a void report, no action could have been contemplated involving such report. It was also contended that since the charge-sheet against him and the disciplinary proceeding were all initiated remain incompetent. It was further contended that the order of punishment was void ab initio making thereby the order of the Appellate Authority inconsequential.
The Respondent’s Counsel through their counter while justifying the appointment of the opposite party as an Enquiry Officer–cum-Disciplinary Authority, taking this Court to the gravity of charges and establishment of most of the serious charges against the petitioner contended that there is no infirmity in the impugned orders. The learned counsel for the Bank Authority also contended that for the fairness in the disciplinary proceeding with the fullest opportunity to the petitioner, the petitioner has failed to establish the charges wrong and not proved against him. It was further contended that for the limited role of the High court and for the involvement of concurrent finding by both the authorities including that of the Appellate Authority, this court cannot sit as Appellate Authority over the Appellate Authority.
The learned counsel referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Apex Court in a similar situation in the case of Sambhu Nath Goyal v. Bank of Baroda & Others [AIR 1984], contended that similar context involving another employee of the same Bank having been considered and similar acts of the management having been approved by the Hon’ble Apex Court. The counsel submitted that there is no illegality in the appointment of one of the opposite party as a consequence there is no illegality in the enquiry being conducted by that opposite party functioning as Enquiry Officer as well as Disciplinary Authority. Thus, the learned counsel requested this court for dismissal of the writ petition for having no merit in it.
High Court’s Judgment
This Court finds the decision referred to hereinabove (Sambhu Nath Goyal Case) has direct application to the present case. Accordingly, this Court holds that there is no infirmity in the appointment of the opposite party as an Enquiry Officer and simultaneously also to function as Disciplinary authority.
The HC also contended that for the clear and cogent finding on the charges indicated hereinabove and further based on material charges being proved, this Court finds there is no question of showing any leniency or sympathy involving a Bank Officer.
In the result, this Court finds the writ petition has no merit, as a consequence, the writ petition stands dismissed.
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