The Supreme Court of India, on Monday, held that , in corruption cases, degree of corruption is immaterial and no lenient attitude is required to be shown. An SC bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant, upheld the order of disciplinary authority who had dismissed the Bus Conductor for allowing 25 passengers to travel in the bus without ticket, and reversed the concurrent findings of the Labour court and High Court, which by taking a lenient view, had reinstated him to service. The Court held that both the Labour Court and the High Court have fallen in error by imposing a lesser punishment on the workman whereas the only punishment, on establishment of the charges which have been accepted by the labour court, should have been dismissal and not a lesser one.
The respondent, a bus conductor in the service of the U.P. State Transport Corporation, was proceeded against for allowing for allowing 25 passengers to travel in the bus without ticket. He was found guilty and was dismissed from service. On an industrial dispute being raised, Labour Court held that the allegation of personal gain and corruption had really not been established and hence it felt that it would be appropriate to give a chance to the workman for improvement in future and ordered his reinstating. The High Court, appreciating the reasons ascribed in the award passed by the Labour Court. State appealed to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court held that an employee holding the post of Conductor that requires trust and confidence is expected to behave with discipline, loyalty and also maintain the fiscal sanctity. “He should not allow anything to creep in which would make him a person of questionable integrity. When the first three charges were treated to have been established by adducing cogent evidence, neither the Labour Court nor the High Court should have been guided by the sense of mercy and direct reinstatement.”
The Court also said that when the workman shatters the “institutional trust” and his act has the potentiality to corrode the faith and belief of the employer, he does not deserve any leniency. It is not the quantum per se but the breach of trust with reference to duty and obligation of the employee that must be the edifice of consideration for imposition of punishment, the SC bench opined.
The non-recovery of the amount, the court held, does not mean that there was no personal gain to the conductor or concealing of corruption for personal gains. The court observing that the conduct of the conductor shows that the factum of personal gain was established, said “conductor had allowed 25 passengers to travel without ticket; that by virtue of the said act, the Corporation had sustained loss; that he had mischievously lodged an FIR at the police station regarding misplacing of waybill by him; that his conduct manifestly shows his involvement for personal gain, and that the eventual act was to conceal the corruption which was rooted in his personal gain.”
The court, saying that the degree of corruption is immaterial said “the delinquent employee has harboured the notion that when the cancerous growth has affected the system, he can further allow it to grow by covering it like an octopus, with its tentacles disallowing any kind of surgical operation or treatment so that the lesion continues. The whole act is reprehensible and such a situation does not even remotely commend any lenience”. The court added “it is quite vivid the reasons are really imaginary and reveal some kind of unacceptable theoretical perceptions by the Labour Court.”
Read the Judgment here.