Ajit Singh, J. -
(1.) This writ appeal is directed against the order dated 4.5.2017 passed by the learned Single Judge of this High Court, whereby he has quashed the punishment of respondent's removal from service with a direction to impose lesser punishment.
(2.) On 24.11.2001, the respondent was given compassionate appointment by the appellant-bank on the post of Clerk because his father died in harness. It was expected from the respondent that he will discharge his duties by maintaining highest standard of honesty and integrity, but sadly, he failed to do so. He not only indulged into misappropriation of money on two occasions, but also became a habitual absentee. He was, therefore, subjected to disciplinary proceedings. Initially, two charges were leveled against him, but under the modified charge-sheet dated 5.12.2005, he was directed to respond to the following three charges in the disciplinary proceedings.
Charge No.1: On 9.2.2005, the respondent, while working in cash receipt counter, accepted cash from M/s. Marcofed LPG Service for depositing in their CC A/C No.76 maintained with Kohima Branch. As per deposit pay-in-slip, the details of denomination of cash deposited by them were as follows:
In the column of total of deposit pay-in-slip and counter foil, the amount was by mistake written as Rs.1,04,200.00 instead of Rs.1,14,200.00 by the customer.
As a result, the respondent received excess cash of Rs.10,000.00 but he neither returned that amount to the customer nor did he deposit the same with the Bank despite Bank's Memo No.BR/KOH/2004-05/196 dated 15.2.2005. Thus, the respondent misappropriated the bank's/customer's money which constitutes gross misconduct as provided under clause 5(j) of Memorandum of Settlement dated 10th April 2002 on Disciplinary Action Procedure for Workmen.
Charge No.2: On 3.10.2005, the respondent, while working in cash receipt counter, received total Rs.21,01,539/- from various customers. But, at the close of business of the day, he handed over total Rs.20,96,551/- making the shortage of an amount of Rs.4,988/- and in order to tally the cash balance on 3.10.2005, the Respondent was allowed to tender one withdrawal slip for late payment of Rs.5000/- in his SB A/C No.5765 on his oral request to the Manager, with an assurance to deposit the said amount in his account on the next day i.e. 4.10.2005 since the account was having a credit balance of Rs.2.10P only.
However, on 4.10.2005, the respondent failed to deposit the actual shortage amount of cash for Rs.4988/- as per his oral assurance to the Manager given on 3.10.2005. He also did not return the shortage amount of Cash Rs.4,988/-.
Thus, he misappropriated the bank's money which constitutes gross misconduct as provided under clause 5(j) of Memorandum of Settlement dated 10th April 2002 on Disciplinary Action Procedure for Workmen.
Charge No.3: The respondent was habitual in remaining unauthorisedly absent from duty without having leave to his credit. He remained unauthorisedly absent as under:-
a) From 27.6.2004 to 6.7.2004
b) From 27.12.2004 to 24.1.2005
He also remained unauthorisedly absent for 4 days in February, 2005, 4 days in March, 2005, 24 days in April, 2005, 9 days in May, 2005, 25 days in June, 2005, 12 days in July, 2005, 11 days in September,2005 and continued to remain absent from 2.11.2005 till the date of issuance of charge sheet i.e. 5.12.2005.
(3.) A Senior Manager of the Bank, who conducted the enquiry, in his report dated 29.8.2006 concluded that all the three charges were proved against the respondent. Thereafter, the disciplinary authority also agreed with the findings of the Enquiry Officer. The disciplinary authority, then, having regard to the serious nature of charges, vide order dated 5.4.2007, inflicted a penalty of respondent's removal from service. Aggrieved, the respondent filed a departmental appeal and it too was dismissed by the Appellate Authority vide order dated 1.8.2007. The respondent finally filed WP(C) No.2430/2008, essentially, on the ground that penalty of his removal from service was shockingly disproportionate to the charges proved against him. The respondent in the writ petition did not seriously question the validity of the departmental enquiry. The learned Single Judge, by the impugned order, while holding that charges were proved against the respondent in a valid enquiry, agreed with him that penalty of his removal from service was disproportionate and directed the disciplinary authority to impose a lesser punishment than that of removal from service. It is in this background, the appellant-bank has filed the present appeal.;