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Pankajesh Vs. Tulsi Gramin Bank & ANR [1997] INSC 528 (7 May 1997)

K. RAMASWAMY, S. SAGHIRAHMAD, G.B. PATTANAIK

ACT:

HEADNOTE:

O R D E R Delay condoned.

Wehave heard learned counsel for the petitioner.

The petitioner was charge-sheeted for dereliction of the duty under Section 3 of theRegional Rural Banks Act (21 of 1976). Afterinquiry, the disciplinary authority directed with-holding of three increments with cumulative effect. On appeal,the appellate authority stated thus:"[Therefore, in accordance with the decision taken by the Board of Directors, oneincrement is released and he is warnedthat in future no such actor irregularity will be repeated, otherwise serious disciplinaryactionwill be taken". Wen writ petition was filedby the petitioner, the High Court in the impugned order dated December 16, 1996 made inWrit Petition 12133/93 stated as under:

"We do not feel inclinedto quash the orderpassed by the appellate disciplinary authority who has disciplinary authority who has disposed of the appeal of the petitioner by setting aside the order with-holdingone of the three increments and has warned the petition r that in future no such act/irregularity will berepeated byhim and if itis done in that event disciplinary actionwill be taken against him." It is contended by the learned counsel for the petitioner that theHigh Court has misunderstood the operative Dartof theorder of the appellate authority. We find no force in the contention. TheWord "one increment release" would mean that the appellate authority is inclined to confirm thepenalty of imposing two incrementswith cummulative effect andthereby, one incrementwas released from the penalty. The High Court, therefore, isnot right in construing that two increments have been released and one was retained. Instead,the reverse isthe intention. Under the circumstances, while clarifying thefactualposition, we do not find that it is a case warranting interference.

The only legal question sought tobe raised in the SLP is whether under Rule 30(3) of the Staff Service Regulation, the enquiry officer has to be higher inrank than the delinquent officer. Regulation 30 (3)of the Staff ServiceRegulation postulates thus:

"The enquiry under this regulation and the procedure with the exception of the final order, may bedelegated in case the person against whom proceedings are taken isan officer, toany officer who isin a grade higher than such officer and in the case of an employee,to any officer. For purpose ofthe enquiry, the officer oremployee may not engage a legal practitioner." Thus an enquiry, under Regulation may be delegatedto a person higher in rankthan the delinquent officer, in the case of an officer. But in this case we donot find any substantial miscarriage of justice preejudicial to the petitioner for the reason that though it is always desirable that an officer higher in rank than the delinquent officer should be directed toconductan enquiry, the enquiry is conducted as a delegate of the disciplinary authority.

Therefore, theultimate decision is to be taken by the disciplinary authority. By mere delegatingthe enquiry whetherthe enquiry officer is of the same cadre or of higher grade than that of thepetitioner, it did not cause any material irregularity notresulted in anyinjustice to the petitioner. Under these circumstances, we do notfind any illegality warranting interference.

The special leave petitionis accordingly dismissed.

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