Decided on September 24,2012

Arvind Singh Arora Appellant
National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development And Ors. Respondents


- (1.) Until about 2003, petitioner was working as Stenographer with National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) at its branch office situate at Chandigarh. At Chandigarh, there was a co-operative society registered under the Central Co-operative Societies Act by the name NABARD Employees Co-operative Urban Salary Earners Thrift and Credit Society Limited. Only an existing employee of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development could be a member of said Society. Petitioner, as an employee of NABARD, became a member of the said Society. Soon thereafter in the year 1994, he became not only a member of the Managing Committee of the said Society, but also its President. He continued to remain such President until 2003. In 2003, petitioner was promoted to the post of Assistant Manager. On such promotion, petitioner was transferred to the regional office of NABARD situate at Dehradun. On 7th October, 2004, the Registrar Co-operative Societies, Union Territory Chandigarh, passed an order dated 7th October, 2004 and, thereby, appointed an Administrator over the said Society. After appointment of the Administrator over the said Society, an inquiry was made to ascertain the financial condition of the said Society by the Registrar of Co-operative Societies. In course thereof, it transpired from a report submitted by a Chartered Accountant, appointed by the Registrar of the Co-operative Societies, that the financial health of the said Society is in doldrums. It appears that subsequent thereto, directions have been issued for winding up of the said Co-operative Society. In the meantime, having regard to the financial condition of the Society, members of the public, who deposited monies with the said society, approached NABARD with the hope that they may get back their monies deposited with the Society from NABARD. In that background, petitioner was charged by a charge-sheet dated 25th April, 2007. The same was issued by the Chief General Manager, G.S. Menon, who was then the Chief General Manager of the Head Office Zone situate at Mumbai. Petitioner gave a reply to the charge-sheet, whereupon the charge was enquired into by an Inquiry Officer. The Inquiry Officer held only one sitting. In that sitting, the Presenting Officer tendered six documents in evidence and the petitioner tendered one document. The documents, which were tendered by the Presenting Officer, were those pertaining to the report of the Chartered Accountant, referred to above, coming into existence and bylaws of the society as well as the Co-operative Societies Rules. In addition to that, there was a letter written to Mr. G.S. Menon by the said Society indicating discrepancies and deficiencies in the maintenance of Books of Accounts of the Society. Though, these documents were not formally disclosed but the fact remains that they were disclosed as grounds in the charge-sheet itself. Petitioner has also not been able to show what prejudice did he suffer for non-disclosure of those documents earlier than the time the same were disclosed and tendered in evidence. On the date of the sitting, three witnesses were produced by the Presenting Officer. They were neither named in the charge-sheet nor their names were disclosed in the charge-sheet and, at the same time, immediately prior to the date of holding of the sitting of the inquiry, petitioner was not informed that those witnesses are likely to be examined by the Presenting Officer. These witnesses, in course of inquiry, deposed that their investments in the society remained unrecoverable. These witnesses were, therefore, produced by the Presenting Officer only to show that the financial health of the said Society is such that it is beyond recovery. This aspect of the matter was not disputed in the reply to the charge-sheet. Even in the writ petition, it is not being contended that the financial health of the society was such that it could repay its debts due and owing to its depositories. As a result, the conclusion would be that for non-disclosure of names of these witnesses, petitioner did not suffer any prejudice, nor those witnesses deposed in any direction which was not contemplated in the charge-sheet itself. Furthermore in the writ petition, petitioner has not been able to establish what prejudice the petitioner suffered for non-disclosure of those three witnesses immediately before they were called to depose. The Inquiry Officer, after conclusion of the inquiry, submitted his report to the Disciplinary Authority. The Disciplinary Authority then gave a copy of that report to the petitioner with an opportunity to him to make a representation. Petitioner made a representation and subsequent thereto, the disciplinary proceeding was closed by passing an order of dismissal. Aggrieved thereby, petitioner preferred an appeal and the same having also been dismissed, the present writ petition has been filed.
(2.) In the writ petition, though it has been contended that the Inquiry Officer did not follow the procedure as prescribed and hurriedly concluded the disciplinary proceeding, but the same has highlighted only those lacunas as have been pointed above. We have already dealt with them and, accordingly, do not wish to repeat the same.
(3.) It has been contended that in accordance with the Rules, the charge-sheet could only be issued by the Chief General Manager of the regional office of NABARD in which the petitioner was then working. It was contended that in the event more than one was to be charged, though the petitioner was separately and independently charged; but assuming that the petitioner and others working in different regional offices were to be charged, in such event, the Chief General Manager of Shimla region could only issue the charge-sheet, inasmuch as, he was the Chief General Manager of the regional office, where the senior most persons amongst the delinquents were working. As it appears from Rule No. 47, there is some substance in the contention of the petitioner. It appears to us that in the instant case, the Disciplinary Authority or the competent Authority was the Chief General Manager of the regional office, in which the petitioner was working, since the charge-sheet was a single charge-sheet against a single delinquent and not a joint charge-sheet. However, because the charge-sheet was issued by the Chief General Manager of the regional office of Mumbai and not the Chief General Manager of the regional office of Dehradun, it would not be appropriate to interfere with the matter, for again, petitioner has not been able to establish prejudice, if any, he has suffered, for the disciplinary action was initiated by the Chief General Manager, Mumbai and not by the Chief General Manager, Dehradun.;

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