Decided on January 24,1979

Anugrah Narain Sinha Appellant
The Chairman And Managing Director, United Commercial Bank And Others Respondents

Referred Judgements :-



S. Sarwar Ali, J. - (1.)As is well known a number of Banks were nationalised in the year 1970. This was done by a Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings; Act, 1970, Act 5 of 1970 (the "Act"). The United Commercial Bank limited was one such Bank. After the said nationalisation it came to be called United Commercial Bank (the "Bank"). Under section 19 of the Act the Board of Directors was authorised to make regulations. In pursuance of the powers derived under the aforesaid section the Board of Directors of the Bank Framed United Commercial Bank Officers, Employees (Disciplines & Appeal) Regulations, 1976 (the "Regulations") Elaborate previsions have been made therein in relation to disciplinary proceedings. Regulation 18 empowers review in the circumstances, and to the extent, mentioned in the said Regulation. In this Writ application the root question which has to be considered and decided is the scope of the aforesaid power of review and the manner of exercise thereof.
(2.)Before dealing with the questions raised in this case the relevant facts, which lie within a short compass, may be compactly stated: The petitioner, who was working in the Bank at Patna on 10-2-1976 was served on that date with the charge-sheet dated 2-2-1976. The petitioner was also put under suspension from the aforesaid date. On the basis of these charges which related to the period 12-5-971 to 5-6-1974, when the petitioner was working as Branch Manager at Tarapur Branch of the Bank, a disciplinary proceeding was started against the petitioner. Without going into the details of the proceeding it may be stated here that the Inquiring Officer after holding an enquiry submitted a report to the disciplinary authority. In this report the petitioner was found guilty by the inquiring officer. He, therefore, recommended that suitable action be taken against the petitioner. The disciplinary authority, however, found the petitioner not guilty of all charges except one. The charge in relation to which the petitioner was found guilty was charge No. 3. But in relation to this charge as well he found that no punishment was called for; It may be stated that this charge related to non submission of returns is S. T. 47 in relation to six loanees. Since the disciplinary authority found that lapse of this nature was common, as many managers had failed to submit S. T. returns, he was of the view that no action need be taken for this dereliction in duty. Consequently by a letter dated 27-10-1977 the petitioner was informed that he has been exonerated of all the charges levelled against him by the disciplinary authority, and that he shall be reinstated with immediate effect. The letter aforesaid was issued under the signature of the Divisional Manager. The petitioner according to the direction contained in Annexure-2 joined the Divisional Office at Patna. He was paid full salary and allowances for the month of Oct., 1977. He continued to work till 30-11-1977 for which necessary payments were made. On 1-12-1977 the petitioner received a communication under the signature of the Divisional Manager to the effect that the order of suspension of the petitioner could not be revoked by the Divisional Manager, as the order of suspension had been passed by the Bank Deputy General Manager. The petitioner was also informed that the order of suspension passed by the then Deputy General Manager continues to be in force till the petitioner was advised otherwise by a competent authority. Copy of this communication is Annexure-3 to the writ application. On 20-1-1978 the petitioner received a letter dated 7-1-1978 under the signature of the General Manager and reviewing authority under Regulation 18, By this letter the petitioner was intimated that for the reasons stated in the said letter, the order dated 25-10-1977 passed by the disciplinary authority was being set aside. A fresh inquiry was to be held into the charges levelled against the petitioner in the charge-sheet dated 2-2-1976. Further that as a fresh inquiry had been ordered the suspension of the petitioner from Bank's service will continue until further orders. A copy of this letter is Annexure-4 to the writ application. The petitioner challenges Annexures-3 and 4 and prays that they be quashed. He has further prayed that the respondents may be prohibited from initiating a departmental proceeding against the petitioner on the basis of charges dated 2-2-1976.
(3.)It would be appropriate here to state that the order of review has been passed by the General Manager (respondent No. 2) on a perusal of the charge-sheet aforesaid, the proceeding of the inquiry, the report of tho inquiring officer, and the findings of the disciplinary authority. Before passing the aforesaid order of review the petitioner was not heard and no opportunity was given to the petitioner to have his say before the reviewing authority. It would also be appreciate to mention here the reasons on the basis of which the order of the disciplinary authority was set aside and fresh inquiry ordered. I might as well put it in the words of the reviewing authority itself in the communication addressed to the petitioner:-
"From the records I find that the enquiry held into the charges levelled against you suffers from certain procedural lapses and other infirmities. No witnesses were examined and relevant documents were also not produced before the Enquiry Officer. By and large the Enquiry Officer has based his findings on the report of the Central Bureau of Investigation produced before the said enquiry. The disciplinary Authority while giving his findings and passing his order dated 25th Oct., 1977 had noted the above defects in the enquiry but he held the view that the witnesses did not appear before the Enquiry Officer as they were not in a position to prove the charges levelled against you and that to avoid any further delay in the matter he did not think it fit to remit the case back to the Enquiry Officer and drew his conclusions on the documents exhibited and other circumstances, I have carefully considered the matter and am of the view that a fresh enquiry in the matter is needed..................."

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