SRI BANSIDHAR SENAPATI Vs. CHAIRMAN, STATE BANK OF INDIA
LAWS(ORI)-2020-1-16
HIGH COURT OF ORISSA
Decided on January 17,2020

Sri Bansidhar Senapati Appellant
VERSUS
CHAIRMAN, STATE BANK OF INDIA Respondents

JUDGEMENT

BISWANATH RATH,J. - (1.) This Writ Petition has been filed seeking quashing of the impugned order of punishment dated 29.01.2001 under Annexure-6, the consequential order of the appellate authority dated 31.07.2001 under Annexure-7 and also the review order dated 29.11.2002 under Annexure-8, further also seeking a direction to the opposite parties to reinstate the petitioner in his service with all consequential service benefits.
(2.) Short background involved in this case is that the petitioner while discharging his duty as Branch Manager in MMGS-II, State Bank of Hydrabad GCP, Bhubaneswar Branch, the Disciplinary Authority/General Manager (Operation) served a charge memo dated 16.09.1998 on the petitioner making therein the allegation involving the petitioner that during his service tenure from 26th of June, 1995 to 27th September, 1997, he failed to discharge duties with utmost honesty, integrity, devotion and diligence. Petitioner was called upon to furnish his written statement in response to charge memo, which the petitioner submitted on 17.11.1998 denying the allegations leveled against him. Petitioner disclosed that during his tenure as Branch Manager at G. Prasad Branch, Bhubaneswar, he brought the loss making Branch into profit after 5 years of its opening. It is only involving such result the petitioner was conferred with the prestigious Managing Director's award. Petitioner also contended that he acted upon with good faith and with clear anxiety to develop the business of the Institution by taking certain business risk in the interest of the Bank and all his intention was to bring the Branch into a greater height. While the defence of the petitioner was pending consideration of the opposite parties he was served with another charge-sheet framing certain additional charges on 10.07.1999. The petitioner alleged that he was not intimated regarding the development on his defence on both the occasions but however in the meantime the Enquiry Officer was appointed by order dated 11.12.1998 and 30.08.1999 passed by the General Manager (operation). Petitioner also alleged that he was never communicated regarding such appointment. During inquiry the petitioner called for certain document in order to substantiate his defence in the inquiry clearly indicating therein that unless the relevant documents are not supplied he will be prejudiced and will not be in a position to defend his case in the inquiry proceeding. It is alleged that in spite of several request no documents were supplied to the petitioner and under compelling circumstance the petitioner was constrained to participate in the inquiry but in absence of supply of relevant documents. The petitioner also alleged that he was not even allowed by the Enquiry Officer to examine witnesses in the inquiry. Only one witness was examined on behalf of the Manager and even the petitioner has not been allowed to examine himself. It is only on the basis of the statement made by the Management, its witness and the document produced by the Management, the Enquiry Officer came to find that the allegation against the petitioner has been proved. Petitioner also alleged that the inquiry report only relies on the representation of the petitioner dated 17.02.2002. Petitioner contended that report vide Annexure-4 is in violation of the principle of natural justice besides the same, the report also appears to be an ex parte one. It is thus alleged that based on such defective inquiry report the Disciplinary authority passed the impugned order of punishment thereby directing for compulsory retirement of the petitioner from the Bank service and also directing therein for recovery of a sum of Rs.15,000/- (Rupees fifteen thousand only) as token recovery towards loss incurred to the Bank. Petitioner also alleged that before imposition of the penalty the Disciplinary authority should have given an opportunity to show cause. It is thus alleged that the order of penalty suffers on account of gross violation of the natural justice. Petitioner while also challenging the order of the Disciplinary authority only on the premises of copy paste of the findings of the Enquiry Officer also alleged that the Disciplinary Authority has not applied its independent mind while passing the order of punishment vide Annexure-6. It further reveals that the petitioner preferred appeal raising all the above allegations but the appellate authority dismissed the appeal by its order dated 31.07.2001 in total non-consideration of the grounds raised by the petitioner, on the other hand it appears, the appeal has been dismissed on the sole ground that the irregularities committed by the petitioner are so serious and hence, it does not require any interference in the order of punishment. The order of the appellate authority is appearing at Annexure-7. The petitioner filed review on 19.10.2001. After receiving the notice in the Writ Petition in its preamendment stage, the opposite party no.1 without taking into consideration the ground reality rejected the review application hurriedly and arbitrarily. Copy of which was received by the petitioner on 12.12.2002 vide Annexure-8 and brought by way of amendment of the Writ Petition.
(3.) Assailing the orders vide Annexures-6, 7 and 8 Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner while reiterating the ground of defence by the petitioner more particularly the inquiry report suffers on account of non-supply of document applied for, not providing opportunity of examination of the delinquent, not providing opportunity of show cause before imposition of punishment and the appeal order suffers on account of non-consideration of the grounds raised in the appeal, also submitted that the Reviewing Authority even did not comply the provision of State Bank of Hyderabad (Officers) Service Regulations 1979 hereinafter in short be called as 'the Regulation, 1979', which requires, the Reviewing Authority should dispose of the review by calling for the records of the case before passing the final order. It is alleged that the reviewing authority has not followed the statutory rules. Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner also contended that the Disciplinary Authority, the appellate authority and the Reviewing Authority have not taken into account that in the meantime 90% of the irregularities mentioned in the charge-sheet have already been regularized. Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner also contended that during incumbency of the petitioner in the G. Prasad Branch, Bhubaneswar, the Bank was running with huge loss. It is for the great efforts of the petitioner the Bank got into profit making institution. For which the petitioner has been awarded by the A.G.M, D.G.M, the M.D. and also by the District Collector. Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner also contended that during pendency of the above proceeding, the petitioner was allowed to attend the interview for promotion to the post of Middle Manager-II to M.M-III Cadre for the year 1998, 1999 and 2000 and the result involving such interview particularly involving the petitioner has been kept in sealed cover. Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner also alleged that there has been some illegal adjustment from the provident fund account of the petitioner unilaterally. Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner further alleged that the Disciplinary authority did not realize the request of the petitioner to change the Enquiry Officer as he was anticipating, not to get justice in the inquiry and continued with such Enquiry Officer who even did not record the statement of the petitioner. It is also alleged that the procedure followed by the Enquiry Officer is also unknown to law. Referring to clause 67 of the Regulation called as State Bank of Hyderabad (Officers) Service Regulations 1979 Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the regulation 67 prescribes, any one or more of the penalties may be imposed on an Officer for an act of misconduct or for any other good and sufficient reason. Similarly learned counsel for the petitioner also contended that the Clause 67(1) of the regulation speaks of compulsory retirement as a major penalty, whereas clause 68 of the regulation 1979 says that the Disciplinary authority himself or whom directed by his superior authority may institute a disciplinary proceeding against the Officer. It further provides that it may also impose any of the penalties specified in the Regulation 67 of the Regulation 1979. Referring to the above provisions of the Regulation, 1979, Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner attempted to justify his allegation. Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner also referring to the provision at regulation 67 contended that when the provision prescribes imposition of major penalty by appointing authority on the recommendation made by the disciplinary authority, in the case at hand the impugned order of penalty of compulsory retirement was passed by the General Manager who works two stages below than the appointing authority. It is, therefore alleged that the General Manager had no authority to impose such punishment and thus the impugned order of punishment ought to be interfered with and set aside. Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner also alleged that the authority did not take into consideration the fact that the petitioner belongs to middle Manager-II to M.M-III Cadre. It is, in the above circumstances Shri Tripathy, learned counsel for the petitioner sought for setting aside of the impugned orders vide Annexures-6, 7 and 8 and to grant consequential relief.;


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