BISWANATH RATH,J. -
(1.) This writ petition involves a challenge to Annexure-8, an order passed by the Disciplinary Authority involving an enquiry initiated against the petitioner-employee, Annexure-10 involving an order of the Appellate Authority, Annexure-12, an order of the Chairman appearing to be a decision in Second Appeal at the instance of the petitioner, the delinquent and Annexure-13, an order of the Establishment for recovery of Rs.1,03,529/- but however, @ Rs.5,000/- per month from the salary of the petitioner, the delinquent with effect from November, 2009.
(2.) Background involving the case is that the petitioner working as Assistant Administrative Officer in the Bhadrak Branch of Life Insurance Corporation of India (for short "LIC" of India) was allotted duties and responsibilities of keeping the cash boxes of the Branch in the Iron Safe inside the Strong Room under lock and key at the end of the day after transaction of the Branch is over and also to remove the cash boxes from the Iron Safe at the beginning of Office hours by placing the cash boxes with Cashier in cash counters till the end of the working hours. The Iron Safe of the Branch is normally operated by two Officers of the Branch ; one the petitioner being the holder of the Key No.1 and the other Officer, namely, Sri N.C. Das being the holder of Key No.2. As per routine procedure, the cash boxes are kept and removed in presence of both the key holders and also require taking help of the sub-staff for the purpose of carrying the cash boxes to places involved. Petitioner claimed that the Branch at Bhadrak was operating in a rented building and after construction of its own building, the process of shifting started on 15.05.2004. The Iron Safe in the Branch contained three movable cash boxes and the Iron Safe is located inside the chamber of the Branch Manager at the first floor of the Branch. The cash counters are located in the ground floor of the building. It is stated on 15.05.2004, petitioner and other Officer being the key holder of Key No.1 and Key No.2 respectively opened the Iron Safe for shifting of boxes to the cash counter using their respective keys and removed two cash boxes and one daily wager namely, Sri Subash Nayak assigned for the job carried the two cash boxes in each hand accompanying the petitioner to the cash counters where those two boxes were delivered at counter no.2 and counter no.4. In the meantime, the other Officer was standing near the Iron Safe. After delivery of two boxes the petitioner and above named daily wager came back to the Strong Room and then removed the third cash box as well as one packet containing few loose notes. In the same process, after removing the third cash box, petitioner asked the said daily wager to wait till the Iron Safe and Strong Room were locked and started the process of locking the Iron Safe as well as the Strong Room by himself and by the other Officer. It is also disclosed here that after locking the Iron Safe and the Strong Room, when the petitioner looked back he found the said sub-staff was not available there and he had gone away with the cash box along with the packet containing loose notes. Upon finding the daily wager he asked the daily wager as to why he left the Strong Room without petitioner's knowledge, to which the daily wager replied him that he had already delivered the same at the desired counter. It is at this point of time, petitioner went to counter no.4 and asked about receipt of second cash box but he was responded by the cashier saying that he had received only the first cash box and not received the second cash box. Petitioner immediately moved to the Office Gate and asked the Security to close the Gate and not to either allow entry of any person or exit of any person. Petitioner along with others searched the Office premises and outside the boundary but they failed to trace the third box accounted for a sum of Rs.2,07,057.43p. An F.I.R. was immediately lodged. Consequent upon theft of cash from the Branch of the LIC, the Disciplinary Authority, vide letter dated 21.06.2005 initiated a disciplinary proceeding followed with issuing charge-sheet against the petitioner. Charges were framed under two counts. First charge involving the petitioner is that the petitioner did not accompany the daily wager all along in shifting of all the three cash boxes and plastic bag containing loose notes from the Iron Safe to the cash counter, which led to theft of the third cash box containing a sum of Rs.2,07,057.43p. and thus the petitioner has failed to maintain absolute integrity and devotion to the duty. The second charge the petitioner faced is that he failed to serve the Corporation honestly and faithfully thereby violating the provisions of Regulations 21 and 24 read with Regulation 39(1) of the LIC of India Staff Regulation, 1960 (in short "the Regulation, 1960"). Petitioner submitted his response to the charges on 01.07.2005. The Disciplinary Authority being not satisfied with the response of the petitioner initiated disciplinary proceeding. Enquiry Officer being appointed, the matter was enquired into. Finally the Enquiry Officer after observing involvement of the petitioner submitted his report on 31.10.2005. On the copy of the enquiry report along with forwarding letter being served on the petitioner, he was asked to submit his response, which the petitioner submitted, vide Annexure-5. Vide letter dated 19.10.2006, the Disciplinary Authority called upon the petitioner to show cause as to why he should not be held guilty of the charges and the proposed penalty of Censure and recovery of Rs.1,03,529/- be not imposed on him. After the petitioner submitted his response, vide Annexure-7 to the notice involving Annexure-6, Disciplinary Authority in conclusion of the departmental enquiry, finding the petitioner guilty of charge No.2 imposed on the petitioner the penalty of Censure and recovery of Rs.1,03,529/- being 50% of the total loss of Rs.2,07,057.43p in terms of Regulations 39 (1) (a) and 39 (1) (c) of the Regulation, 1960, as finds place at Annexure-8 to the writ petition.
(3.) Being aggrieved, petitioner preferred an Appeal under Regulation 40 of the Regulation, 1960, inter alia, contained that he is no way connected with the charges framed. Considering the claim of the petitioner contesting the order passed by the Disciplinary Authority, the Appellate Authority, vide order dated 24.05.2008 rejected the Appeal finding no scope for interfering with the order passed by the Disciplinary Authority.;