Bank & Ors Vs. Venkatesh Gururao Kurati  Insc 42 (31 January 2006)
Sema & Dr.A.R. Lakshmanan H.K.Sema,J
appeal, preferred by Syndicate Bank is directed against the Judgment and Order
dated 16th April, 2004 passed by the Division Bench in
Writ Appeal No.7997 of 1999 affirming the order dated 14th June, 1999 of the learned Single Judge passed in Writ Petition No.
12594 of 1991 allowing the Writ Petition filed by the respondent herein.
stated the facts are as follows:-
was working as Manager of the appellant's bank at Horti Branch (Karnataka)
between 30.12.1976 and 22.7.1981. It is alleged that during the said period the
respondent in collusion with certain staff members got necessary documents
signed and arranged loans in the name of poor illiterate villagers under the
Integrated Rural Development Program and misappropriated the proceeds of such
loans. The allegations are:-
20.06.1979 he obtained loan application and other documents from one Sri. S.M.
Desai with Sr. N.C. Yelasangi as the proposed surety/co-obligant without
informing them the purpose for which the same was obtained. A loan of Rs.6000/-
for working capital needs of Sri. S.M. Desai's Boosari business was sanctioned
and arranged by the respondent though the said Sri. S.M. Desai was not doing
such business. Thereafter, the loan proceeds was withdrawn and received by the
respondent by using a withdrawal slip issued in the name of the said Sri. S.M.
Desai 15 days prior to the arranging the loan.
1981 and March 1981, the respondent in connivance with Sri. K.B.Bhaskaraiah,
the then Farm Representative of bank's Horti branch, Sri. H.K. Hegdeyal, the
Pigmy collection Agent Sri Mareppa P. Talakeri, the then Attender of the bank's
Horti branch and Sri. Parasappa Siddappa Talakeri, father of the said Sri, Mareppa
P. Talakeri sanctioned and arranged 12 Sheep Loans of Rs. 4000/- each
aggregating to Rs. 48,000/- under the DRI Scheme and received the amount of the
said loans either directly or through the accounts of the said Sr. Parasappa Siddappa
was done as detailed below:-
Sri. Parasappa Siddappa
Talakeri obtained loan application for sheep loans in the names of either his
family members who were not eligible for such loans or other poor uneducated
people of the village.
Representative's Reports were obtained from Sri. K.B. Bhaskaraiah, the Farm
amount of loans were to be released to the suppliers directly the same were
credited to the Savings Bank Accounts of the borrowers. To show that the
transactions were genuine, Stamped Receipts for purchase of sheep were obtained
and put on record.
Out of the 12
sheep loans arranged as aforesaid:
Sri, Eswarappa Bhimappa
Harijan who had received only Rs.300/- from the amount of loan of Rs.4000/-
arranged in his name as above said, sought the intervention of Sri. S.S. Shivar,
the village Panchayat President and thereupon, the respondent paid the said
Sri. Eswarappa Bhimappa Harijan a sum of Rs.3,500/-.
another such villager in whose name such loan was arranged who did not receive
the loan proceeds, took up the matter directly with the respondent and
thereupon the respondent paid him a sum of Rs.3000/- iii) Smt. Girijava Omnna Harijan,
Smt. K.R.Harijan and Sri. S.D. Harijan denied having received the loan amount.
the date of relief of the respondent from the bank's Horti branch, he
sanctioned a loan of Rs.10,000/- to Sri. Parasappa Siddappa Talakeri. On
24.07.1981 Sri. Mareppa P. Talakeri, credited a sum of Rs.120/- each to 72 loan
accounts including the said 12 Sheep loan accounts from the proceeds of the
loan of Rs.10,000/- sanctioned by the respondent to the said Sri. Parasappa Siddappa
Talakeri." On the basis of the aforesaid allegations, the following
charges were framed against the respondent on 5th August, 1985 with the statement of imputations
SHEET UNDER REGULATION NO.6 OF SYNDICATE BANK OFFICER EMPLOYEES' (DISCIPLINE
& APPEAL) REGULATIONS 1976.
it is proposed to hold an enquiry against you in accordance with the procedure
laid down in Regulation No.6 of Syndicate Bank Officer Employees' (Discipline
& Appeal) Regulations, 1976. AND WHEREAS the Articles of Charges and
Statement of Imputations of misconduct in respect of which the enquiry is
proposed to he held are mentioned here below:
THEREFORE, you are hereby directed to submit within 15 days from the date of
receipt of this Charge Sheet, your written statement of defence, if any,
showing cause as to why departmental proceedings should not be initiated
against you and appropriate action should not be taken against you.
OF CHARGES ARTICLE No.1:
during the period between 30.12.1976 and 22.7.1981, you were functioning as
manager of our Horti Branch and that while functioning in your position as
such, on 20.6.1979, you obtained loan applications and other documents in the
name of Shri Shankarappa Malakappa Desai with Sri N.C. Yelasangi as the
proposed co-obligant / surety without informing them the purpose for which,
they were obtained:
Then sanctioned and arranged in their names, a secured Loan of Rs.6,000/- for
the ostensible purpose of working capital requirements of Boosari business,
knowingly or having reaons to believe that the said Sri Shankarappa Malakappa
Desai was not doing such business;
Got the loan proceeds withdrawn and received the same through a withdrawal slip
issued in the name of the said Sri Desai, 15 days prior to the arranging of the
your above acts, you failed to discharge your duties with utmost integrity,
honesty, devotion and diligence and exhibited conduct unbecoming of a Bank
Officer and thereby violated Regulation No.3(1) of the Syndicate Bank Officer
Employees' (Conduct) Regulations, 1976.
during the period between January 1981 and March 1981, you, in connivance with
Sri K.B.Bhaskaraiah, the then Farm representative of our Horti Branch, Sri H.K.
Hegdeyal, the pigmy collection Agent of the branch, Sri Mareppa P.Talakeri, the
then Attendar of the Branch and Sri Parasappa Siddappa Talakeri, father of the
said Sri Mareppa P.Talakeri, obtained application forms for sheep loans through
the said Sri Mareppa P. Talakeri, in the names of either his family members of
other poor uneducated people of the village;
Secured Farm Representative Reports from Sri. K.B.Bhaskaraiah, the Farm
Sanctioned 12 loans for a total sum of Rs.48,000/- under the IRDP Scheme;
Got the loan proceeds withdrawn from the accounts of the borrowers concerned
and received the amount either directly or through the accounts of the said Sri
Parasappa Siddappa Talakeri, Sri H.K. Hegdeyal and others known to you;
the process, committed various irregularities as more fully described in the
statement of imputations of misconduct mentioned herein below:
your above acts, you failed to discharge your duties with utmost integrity,
honesty, devotion and diligence and exhibited conduct unbecoming of a Bank Officer
and thereby violated Regulation No.3(1) of the Syndicate Bank Officer
Employees' (Conduct) Regulations, 1976.
Enquiry Officer was appointed. He conducted the enquiry after giving an
opportunity to the respondent, submitted its report on 3.7.1989 finding the
respondent guilty of the charges proved. The Disciplinary Authority accepted
the report of the Enquiry Officer and by the impugned order dated 29.7.1989
removed the respondent from the service of the bank with immediate effect.
However, the same shall not be the disqualification for future employment.
Thereafter, the respondent filed an appeal before the Appellate Authority. The
Appellate Authority gave the respondent personal hearing on 25.04.1991. In the
appeal, the respondent submitted that he did not want to make any oral
submission but submitted a written representation dated 25.4.1991 along with
additional appeal filed on 2.9.1989. After considering the appeal filed by the
respondent, the Appellate Authority dismissed the appeal by an order dated
29.4.1991 confirming the punishment of removal imposed by the Disciplinary
Authority. Aggrieved thereby, the respondent filed a Writ Petition No. 12594 of
1991 challenging the removal of the respondent from the bank service. The
learned Single Judge amongst others held that it is not a fit case for
interference in so far as the finding on the charges framed against the
petitioner (respondent herein).
the learned single Judge was of the opinion that punishment imposed on the
respondent was disproportionate to the gravity of the charge proved. The
learned single Judge was also of the opinion that the respondent was placed
under suspension from 19.7.1989 and he was removed from service on 29.7.1989
i.e. two days before the date on which the petitioner (respondent herein) would
have attained the superannuation age in the normal course. The petitioner
(respondent herein) served the appellant's bank for more than 33 years and
except this disciplinary proceeding there was no other allegation of misconduct
against the petitioner (respondent herein) while working in the bank. The
petitioner (respondent herein) was removed from the bank service just two days
before he completed the age of 58 years and during his old age, he must
necessarily have something to maintain himself and his family members. On these
compassionate grounds, the learned single Judge converted the order of removal
from service into compulsorily retirement.
view, this is no ground for converting the order of removal from service into
compulsorily retirement. On the question of punishment being disproportionate
to the charges framed and proved, we are of the view that the charges framed
and proved are grievous in nature, which would normally attract removal from
service, if such charges were proved. We are also of the view that sentiments
and compassion have no role to play in such a situation when the gravity of
misconduct such as this has been found well proved against the respondent.
the order of the learned Single Judge, curiously enough, the respondent
preferred Writ Appeal No. 7997 of 1999 and the appellants herein filed cross
the appeal and the cross-objections were disposed by a common order by the
Division Bench after re-appreciating the evidence allowing the writ appeal by
setting aside the order dated 14.6.1999 passed by the learned Single Judge in
Writ Petition No. 12594 of 1991 and quashed the order of dismissal dated
29.7.1989. Hence the present appeal by special leave.
writ appeal, the learned Division bench framed the following issues:-
framed against the appellant-delinquent officer are vague?
non-supply of the documents sought by the appellant vitiated the enquiry and
the action of the management of the respondent Bank in removing the appellant
from service as a disciplinary measure?
reliance on statements previously recorded by CBI by the Enquiry Officer has
vitiated the enquiry?
findings of fact recorded by the Enquiry Officer are perverse for want of legal
evidence? The Division Bench decided issue Nos. 1, 3 and 4 against the
respondent herein. The Division Bench, however, decided issue No.2 against the
appellant herein, that non- supply of documents sought by the appellant
vitiated the inquiry resulting the removal of the respondent from the bank
sole question, therefore, to be determined is, whether non-supply of documents,
which did not form part of chargesheet and were not relied upon by the
prosecution prejudice the delinquent officer resulting in vitiating the enquiry
the proceeding the management has produced oral evidence of 24 witnesses and
documentary evidence by producing 218 documents, the fact which is not denied
by the delinquent officer.
the specific case of the appellants that the documents sought by the delinquent
officer which were relevant for the purpose of enquiry and which were part of
the charges were supplied to the delinquent officer, but the documents which were
not supplied to the delinquent officer were those on which the prosecution
either did not rely or which did not form part of the charges.
we examine the issue No.2 we may at this stage quote the finding of the learned
Division Bench in paragraph 16 of the judgment:
reasons stated by the management of the Bank not to supply copies of certain
documents sought by the appellant, in our considered opinion, are totally
irrational and untenable. The documents in respect of which privilege of confidentiality
was claimed by the Bank's Management, by no stretch of imagination, could be
regarded as privileged documents or confidential in nature. Therefore, we do
not think that the Bank's Management was justified and acted legally in
refusing to furnish the copies of the documents sought by the appellant. It is
our considered opinion that all the documents sought by the
appellant-delinquent are either those documents on the basis of which the
disciplinary authority has framed the charges and the documents on which the
disciplinary authority has placed reliance to prove those charges or the
documents though, they are not the basis for framing the charges nor those of
which the disciplinary authority places reliance to prove the charges against
the appellant delinquent, but, they would have aided the appellant-delinquent,
to effectively cross-examine the witnesses of the disciplinary authority."
(emphasis supplied) The High Court's finding, in our view, is perverse.
High Court having come to the conclusion that the documents sought by the
respondent are not the basis for framing the charges nor those on which the
Disciplinary Authority placed any reliance to prove the charges against the
delinquent officer held that non-supply of those documents sought by the
delinquent officer prejudiced his case and resulted in vitiating the
the record, it appears that the delinquent officer sought for supply of certain
documents. The twelve documents, which formed part of the charges and were
relied upon by the Inquiry Officer, were supplied to him by a letter dated 11th August, 1987. Two documents were produced during
the enquiry for cross-examination of the witnesses.
fact was admitted by the counsel for the respondent at the time of hearing.
Rest of the documents were not supplied to the delinquent officer stating that
they had no relevancy to the enquiry, meaning thereby that neither they form
part of the charges nor were relied upon by the prosecution during the course
from this the delinquent officer did not deny that the prosecution relied upon
218 documents and also 24 witnesses and the delinquent officer had an
opportunity to cross examine them and also examine the documents on basis of
which the witnesses were cross-examined in the course of enquiry. The Enquiry
Officer as stated earlier submitted a detailed report in which the delinquent
officer did not deny at all, either by oral or written arguments, that he did
not receive the cash from the cashier which was meant for the loanee.
counsel for the respondent vehemently urged that although the documents may not
form part of the charges or be relied upon by the prosecution in the course of
enquiry, denial of the same would prejudice the delinquent's case because
denial of contemporary documents deprive the right of the delinquent to set up
an effective defence. We are unable to countenance such submissions at all,
that the documents which do not form part of the charges or are relied upon by
the prosecution during the course of enquiry, non-supply of which would cause
any prejudice to the delinquent officer.
of India, (1974) 4 SCC 374, it is held in paragraph 16 as under:- "Mr.Hardy
next contended that the appellant had really no reasonable opportunity to
defend himself and in this connection he invited our attention to some of the
points connected with the enquiry with which we have now to deal. It was first
contended that inspection of relevant records and copies of documents were not
granted to him. The High Court has dealt with the matter and found that there
was no substance in the complaint. All that Mr. Hardy was able to point out to
us was that the reports received by the Commission of Income- tax from his
departmental subordinates before the charge-sheet was served on the appellant
had not been made available to the appellant.
appears that on complaints being received about his work the Commission of
Income-tax had asked the Inspecting Assistant Commissioner Shri R.N. Srivastava
to make a report. He made a report. It is obvious that the appellant was not
entitled to a copy of the report made by Mr. Srivastava or any other officer
unless the enquiry officer relied on these reports. It is very necessary for an
authority which orders an enquiry to be satisfied that there are prima facie
grounds for holding a disciplinary enquiry and, therefore, before he makes up
his mind he will either himself investigate or direct his subordinates to
investigate in the matter and it is only after he receives the result of these
investigations that he can decide as to whether disciplinary action is called
for or not. Therefore, these documents of the nature of inter-departmental
communications between officers preliminary to the holding of enquiry have
really no importance unless the Enquiry Officer wants to rely on them for his
conclusions. In that case it would only be right that copes of the same should
be given to the delinquent. It is not the case here that either the Enquiry
Officer or the Commissioner of Income-tax relied on the report of Shri R.N.Srivastava
or any other officer for his finding against the appellant. Therefore, there is
no substance in this submission." In the case of Chandrama Tewari vs.
Union of India, 1987 (Supp.) SCC 518 at scc p.521 it was held by this Court:
it is not necessary that each and every document must be supplied to the
delinquent government servant facing the charges, instead only material and
relevant documents are necessary to be supplied to him. If a document even though
mentioned in the memo of charges is not relevant to the charges or if it is not
referred to or relied up by the enquiry officer or the punishing authority in
holding the charges proved against the government servant, no exception can be
taken to the validity of the proceedings or the order.
document is not used against the party charged the ground of violation of
principles of natural justice cannot successfully be raised.
violation of principles of natural justice arises only when a document, copy of
which may not have been supplied to the party charged when demanded is used in
recoding finding of guilt against him. On a careful consideration of the
authorities cited on behalf of the appellant we find that the obligation to
supply copies of a document is confined only to material and relevant documents
and the enquiry would be vitiated only if the non- supply of material and
relevant documents when demanded may have caused prejudice to the delinquent
officer." In our view, non-supply of documents on which the Enquiry
Officer does not rely during the course of enquiry does not create any
prejudice to the delinquent. It is only those documents, which are relied upon
by the Enquiry Officer to arrive at his conclusion, the non-supply of which would
cause prejudice being violative of principles of natural justice. Even then,
the non-supply of those documents prejudice the case of delinquent officer must
be established by the delinquent officer. It is well settled law that the
doctrine of principles of natural justice are not embodied rules. It cannot be
put in a straitjacket formula. It depends upon the facts and circumstances of
each case. To sustain the allegation of violation of principles of natural
justice, one must establish that prejudice has been caused to him for
non-observance of principles of natural justice.
counsel for the respondent has cited the following rulings of this Court:
of Management, Kisan Degree College vs. Shambhu Saran Pandey, (1995) 1 SCC 404,
wherein it has been held by this Court that denial of an opportunity to inspect
documents at the time of final hearing is erroneous procedure and in violation
of principles of natural justice. This is not the fact of the case at hand.
of U.P. vs. Shatrughan Lal, (1998) 6 SCC 651 wherein this Court held that where
the charge-sheet is issued and the documents which are proposed to be utilized
against that person are indicated in the charge-sheet but copies thereof are
not supplied to him in spite of his request and at the same time he is called
upon to submit his reply cannot constitute an effective opportunity to defend
The aforesaid decision is of no help to the facts of the respondent's case.
it is contended by the counsel for the respondent, that the respondent has put
in 33 years of service and he was dismissed from service just two days prior to
the age of superannuation, therefore, this Court may consider the entitlement
of pension and gratuity in spite of removal from service. In this connection,
learned counsel has cited the decision of this Court in Ganesh Santa Ram Sirur
vs. State Bank of India (2005) 1 SCC 13 where Dr.Justice A.R. Lakshmanan
speaking for the Bench although upholding the dismissal of the appeal held that
in the peculiar facts and circumstances the appellant will be entitled to full
pension and gratuity irrespective of his total period of service. In that case
the officer had sanctioned loan to his wife. However, having realised the
mistake later he tried to salvage the same by not encashing the draft issued in
the name of his wife and the draft was not encashed. In those peculiar facts
and circumstances since no loss was caused to the bank this Court took that
view. The decision in Ganesh Santa Ram Sirur (supra) is distinguishable from
the facts of this case.
view we have taken the order dated 14.6.1999 passed by the learned Single Judge
and the order dated 16.4.2004 passed by the Division Bench are hereby quashed
and set aside. The order of the Disciplinary Authority dated 29.7.1989 removing
the respondent from service is restored. The appeal is allowed with no order as