Decided on July 26,1961



- (1.) THE facts in this case are shortly as follows: the petitioner was previously employed under the Imperial Bank of India, which has now become the State Bank of India. At the relevant time, he was employed as a Money-Teller or Money-Tester, in the branch of the State Bank of India at Howrah. On the 22nd October, 1956 he was suspended by the Agent, State Bank of India, Howrah, and in January, 1957 he was served with a charge-sheet. I shall mention briefly what the charges were about. It is a practice of the Howrah Branch of the State Bank for currency notes to be sorted in packets of various denominations, stitched together with a slip known as a "poddar" slip, signed by the Cashier or Money Tester. These bundles contain notes aggregating to rupees one hundred in each bundle and where there is a shortfall, they are re-adjusted by transferring notes from one bundle to another. When the notes become dirty, they are sent to the currency for being changed into clean notes. During the process of making the bundles, sending them to the currency etc. , the petitioner used to handle the same. About the end of August, 1956, it was reported that in these bundles considerable shortages were being detected. It was suspected that the petitioner was responsible for such shortages and indeed, upon being confronted, he made a written confession, a copy whereof is annexed to the petition of Brij Kishore Kacker affirmed on the 12th August 1959 and marked with the letter "b". Later on, he has tried to explain away the confession by saying that this was done in order to assist the Head Cashier. However, after this, the petitioner was suspended, and was charge-sheeted. A copy of the charge-sheet is annexure 'c' to the said petition. It was stated therein that the deficiency aggregated to Rs. 2,724/-, which amount was later on slightly reduced. The petitioner showed cause and thereafter on the 19th September, 1958 there was an order of discharge passed by the respondent No. 2, the Agent, State Bank of India, Howrah. There was an appeal, preferred by the petitioner and on the 13th March, 1959 that appeal was dismissed. Now this application has been made.
(2.) A number of grounds have been taken in the petition, but the ground that has been pressed is to the effect that the petitioner was not given a proper opportunity of defending himself, inasmuch as no copy of the report of the Enquiry Authority was ever made available to him, so that he was not put in a position to show cause and to defend himself. Actually when this application was made, this point was not specifically taken in the petition and I allowed an amendment to be made, whereupon fresh affidavits have been filed. I have before me a supplementary affidavit by Brij Kishore Kacker affirmed on the 11th July, 1961. In this, the position with regard to this report has been fully dealt with. It seems to be as follows:
(3.) A copy of the enquiry report has been annexed to the said supplementary affidavit and appears at page 9. It is not described as a "report" but as "proceedings of the Departmental Enquiry held at the State Bank of India, Howrah, etc. " This enquiry report, which consists of a number of pages, was submitted to the Agent of the Howrah Head Office. It was first perused by Mr. S. K. Dutta of the Staff Section, who prepared a note based thereon for the Deputy Secretary and Treasurers. A copy of that note is annexure 'b' to the said affidavit. The part relevant for our purposes is paragraph 4 and I must set it out:- "in view of the findings of the Enquiry Officer, the employee does not appear to be a deserving person to be retained in the Bank's service. Shri Mukherjee has completed only 21/2 years' service and has proved himself to be an undesirable employee, on whose integrity complete reliance cannot be placed by the Bank. Though a cast-iron case has not been possible to be made out against Shri Mukherjee and there is no direct conclusive evidence available to sustain the Bank's charge against him, strong suspicions attach to his conduct and we may discharge him under the provisions of paragraph 521 (10) (c) of the Sastry Award; in terms of this paragraph discharge may be given to an employee where evidence is found to be insufficient to sustain the charge and the Bank does not, for some reason or other, consider it expedient to retain the employee in question any longer in service. ";

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