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Superannuation Does Not Absolve Employee From Misconduct;Bank Employee Always Holds Position Of Trust : Supreme Court

Shruti Kakkar
14 Feb 2022 3:48 PM GMT
Superannuation Does Not Absolve Employee From Misconduct;Bank Employee Always Holds Position Of Trust : Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court has observed that superannuation of an employee does not absolve him from the misconduct committed in discharge of his duties.The bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and AS Oka was considering SLP assailing Patna High Court's order dated 11th May 2010. ("impugned judgment")In the impugned judgment the High Court had upheld Tribunal's finding wherein it was observed that...

The Supreme Court has observed that superannuation of an employee does not absolve him from the misconduct committed in discharge of his duties.

The bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and AS Oka was considering SLP assailing Patna High Court's order dated 11th May 2010. ("impugned judgment")

In the impugned judgment the High Court had upheld Tribunal's finding wherein it was observed that the punishment awarded to the respondent employee of dismissal was not commensurate with the charge leveled against him.

While allowing the appeal, the bench in United Bank of India v. Bachan Prasad Lal authored by Justice Ajay Rastogi observed that,

"​​In our considered view, looking into seriousness of the nature of allegations leveled against the respondent employee, the punishment of dismissal inflicted upon him in no manner could be said to be shockingly disproportionate which would have required to be interfered with by the Tribunal in exercise of its power under Section 11A of the Act 1947. At the same time, merely because the employee stood superannuated in the meanwhile, will not absolve him from the misconduct which he had committed in discharge of his duties and looking into the nature of misconduct which he had committed, he was not entitled for any indulgence. The Bank employee always holds the position of trust where honesty and integrity are the sine qua non but it would never be advisable to deal with such matters leniently."

Bachan Prasad Lal ("respondent") had joined service as a Clerk­cum­ Typist in 1973 and committed serious irregularities in discharge of his duties. The nature of the allegation against Prasad was of fraudulently preparing nine credit transfer vouchers on various dates on the pretext of payment of interest towards fixed deposits and crediting the whole amount to one fake savings account. To adjust the said amount he manipulated the other book records of the Bank using forged signatures.

He was placed under suspension by an order dated August 7, 1995 and was later served with the charge sheet along with the statement of allegation on March 2, 1996. After the disciplinary inquiry was conducted in accordance with the disciplinary rules of the Bank, the inquiry officer found the charges proved and he was thereafter dismissed from service on December 6, 2000. The appellate authority also rejected respondent's appeal on April 24, 2004.

The Tribunal after considering the record of domestic inquiry concluded that the inquiry was fair and proper and the charges stood proved. While exercising power under Section 11A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Tribunal under its Award dated 30th December, 2005 observed that the punishment awarded to the respondent employee of dismissal was not commensurate with the charge leveled against him.

The tribunal while upholding the allegations leveled against the respondent in reference to which the inquiry was conducted, substituted the punishment of dismissal with an order of reinstatement after lowering down two stages in his basic salary that he was getting at the time of his dismissal. It was also held that there will be no payment of salary and allowances for the period of his suspension­ save and except payment of subsistence allowance.

The appellant preferred an appeal assailing the interference made by the Tribunal u/s 11A of the Act of 1947 and dismissed the petition holding that the Tribunal has a discretion under Section 11A of the Act 1947.

Even the Division Bench upheld the Tribunal's finding and confirmed the Single Judge's order. However, the Division Bench was not inclined to interfere despite the fact that the respondent was found guilty after regular inquiry was held for misappropriation of funds. The High Court further observed that there should not be any compassion in the judicial proceedings which should be shown to the delinquent who commits such nature of fraud in discharge of his duties.

Case Name: United Bank of India v. Bachan Prasad Lal| Civil Appeal No(S). 2949 Of 2011

Coram: Justices Ajay Rastogi and AS Oka

Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 164

Headnotes

Disciplinary Proceedings - Bank employee was dismissed after conducting a disciplinary proceedings - Appellate authority dismissed his appeal - Industrial Tribunal held that the punishment awarded to the employee of dismissal is not commensurate with the charge levelled against him - In writ petition filed against Tribunal order, the High Court refused to interfere with the Order for the reason that the respondent employee by that time had retired on attaining the age of superannuation in 2007. Allowing appeal, the Supreme Court upheld the dismissal order and observed: Merely because the employee stood superannuated in the meanwhile, will not absolve him from the misconduct which he had committed in discharge of his duties and looking into the nature of misconduct which he had committed, he was not entitled for any indulgence.  (Para 11)

Banking - The Bank employee always holds the position of trust where honesty and integrity are the sine qua non. (Para 11)


Click here to read/download the judgment


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