India & Ors Vs. T. Jogram  Insc 793 (2 August 2007)
Sema & Lokeshwar Singh Panta
C.A.No.640 of 2005) H.K.SEMA,J.
This appeal preferred by Bank of India is directed against the judgment and
order dated 3.9.2004 passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of
Judicature, Andhra Pradesh in Writ Appeal No.205 of 2002, upsetting the order
passed by the learned Single Judge.
have heard Ms.Neha Sharma, learned counsel for the appellants as well as Mr.
A.T. Rao, learned counsel for the respondent.
Briefly stated the facts are as follows:- The respondent was appointed as a
clerk in the appellant-bank sometime in the year 1982. He was, thereafter,
promoted as Junior Management Officer Scale-I in 1993 and was posted to Tamilnadu.
After two years he was transferred to Hyderabad. While he was working as an officer at Secunderabad Branch during the
period from 6.1.1996 to 30.3.1998, he was on deputation to Visakhapatnam from 22.02.1997 to 25.02.1997 for
mobilization of shares. He submitted bills claiming travel expenses, lodging
and boarding charges and halting allowance for the aforesaid period. It was
found that the amount claimed by the respondent was inflated. A charge memo was
issued to him on 26.03.1999.
charges levelled against him are:- "Article I "You were on deputation
to Visakhapatnam Branch from 22.2.1997 to 25.2.1997 for which you submitted the
TA bill on 27th
claiming the fabricated travelling expenses, which are far in excess of the
normal conveyance. You are claimed and submitted a lodging bill of Lodge Brindavan
for Rs.500/- for two days whereas the room rent paid by you in the said lodge Brindavan
for 2 days was Rs.104/-. Thus you submitted a false bill. You had also arranged
to incorporate boarding charges of Rs.300/- in the bill issued by Lodge Brindavan
although no boarding facilities are available in the said lodge. You have also
claimed halting allowance of Rs.350/- which is in excess of the entitlement.
aforesaid acts of claiming false and fabricated travelling expenses, claiming
false lodging charges and also claiming excess halting allowance, if proved,
shall amount to misconduct in terms of Regulation 24 of Bank of India Officer
Employees (Conduct) Regulations, 1976 in as much as you alleged to have
committed breach of Regulation 3(1) of the said Regulations, which reads as
3 (1) Every officer employee shall, at all times take all possible steps to
ensure and protect the interest of the Bank and discharge his duties with
utmost integrity, honesty, devotion and diligence and do nothing which is
unbecoming of a Bank Officer.
REGIONAL MANAGER TRIVANDRUM REGION AND DISCIPLINARY
The respondent submitted his explanation to the charge, denying the charges.
The Disciplinary Authority appointed Chief Regional Manager, MICR Centre
Hyderabad, as Enquiry Officer. The enquiry was conducted expeditiously.
Enquiry Officer after examining the witnesses and exhibited documents from both
sides submitted his findings on 13.01.2000 holding the respondent guilty of the
charges framed against him. A copy of the enquiry report was also furnished to
the respondent and after examining the written reply by the respondent; the
Disciplinary Authority accepted the findings of the Enquiry Officer and imposed
the punishment of compulsory retirement from service w.e.f. 14.7.2001.
Aggrieved thereby, he preferred Writ Petition No.14786 of 2001 questioning the
impugned order of compulsory retirement. The said Writ Petition was disposed of
by the High Court on 20.7.2001 directing the respondent to exhaust his
alternative statutory remedy by filing an appeal under Regulation 17 of Bank of
India Employees (Discipline and Appeal) Regulations, 1976. By an order dated
30.8.2001, the Appellate Authority dismissed the appeal of the respondent and
confirmed the order of the Disciplinary Authority.
Aggrieved thereby, the respondent preferred another Writ Petition No.18372 of
2001 questioning the penalty of compulsory retirement. The learned Single Judge
after hearing counsel on both sides and perusing the record did not find any
valid ground to interfere with the penalty of compulsory retirement and
dismissed the Writ Petition by an order dated 27.9.2001.
may, at this stage quote the reasoning of the learned Single Judge while
dismissing the Writ Petition. The learned Single Judge held:
long as the order passed is not in violation of rules/regulations/statutory
provisions, the enquiry cannot be set aside in a casual manner. The Judicial
review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is open only on grounds
of malafide, arbitrariness and perversity. The Writ Petitioner except stating
that he is the founder of SCs, STs and OBCs Association protecting the interest
of downtrodden and that the Respondent Bank management is biased against him,
has failed to place any relevant material to substantiate his case. The
administrative and disciplinary action of the respondent bank cannot be the
subject matter of review, once they followed the due process of law. In the
present case, order of compulsory retirement has been passed based on the
material available on record and on the charges levelled and proved against the
petitioner and the order impugned has been passed in the public interest,
retiring him compulsorily. The order impugned is subjective satisfaction of the
respondent-Bank based on the report made available on record.
petitioner is an officer of the respondent- Bank and it goes without saying
that the bank business, absolute devotion, diligence, integrity and honesty
needs to be preserved by very bank employee and in particular the bank officer.
If this is not observed, the confidence of the public/depositors would be
entirely agree with the reasons recorded by the learned Single Judge. The
reasoning of the learned Single Judge is in consonance with the well-settled
principles of law enunciated by this Court in a catena of decisions.
dismay to notice that the Division Bench of the High Court upset the well
reasoning recorded by the learned Single Judge by re-appreciating the evidence.
The Division Bench of the High Court also noticed that the High Court under
Article 226 would not interfere with the findings recorded at the departmental
enquiry by the Disciplinary Authority or the Enquiry Officer as a matter of
course. The High Court also recorded that the Court cannot sit in appeal over
those findings and assume the role of the Appellate Authority.
Having said that, the High Court summersaulted and re-appreciated the entire
evidence and then upset the well reasoning recorded by the learned Single
Sharma, learned counsel appearing for the appellant-bank would contend that
there is no allegation of procedural irregularities or illegality or violation
of statutory rules prescribing the mode of enquiry, which would require the
Division Bench of the High Court to upset the well reasoning recorded by the
learned Single Judge by way of judicial review.
would further contend that the High Court was wrong in re-appreciating the
entire evidence and that the High Court cannot sit in appeal over the findings
recorded by the Enquiry Officer and assume the role of the Appellate Authority.
There is sufficient force in this contention. In support of her contention she
referred to various decisions of this Court;
Bank of India vs. Vishwa Mohan, (1998) 4 SCC 310,
(1999) 1 SCC 759, Union of India vs. K.G. Soni, (2006) 6 Publications Ltd., (1993) 1 SCC
445, State Bank of Patiala & Ors. vs. S.K. Sharma (1996) 3 SCC 364, Delhi (2004) 11 SCC 213, Chairman and
Managing Director, 364.
Avoiding multiplicity we may note a few decisions of this Court.
749, a three Judge Bench of this Court held in paragraph 12 as under:-
"Judicial review is not an appeal from a decision but a review of the
manner in which the decision is made. Power of judicial review is meant to
ensure that the individual receives fair treatment and not to ensure that the
conclusion which the authority reaches is necessarily correct in the eye of the
an inquiry is conducted on charges of misconduct by a public servant, the
Court/Tribunal is concerned to determine whether the inquiry was held by a
competent officer or whether rules of natural justice are complied with.
Whether the findings or conclusions are based on some evidence, the authority
entrusted with the power to hold inquiry has jurisdiction, power and authority
to reach a finding of fact or conclusion. But that finding must be based on
the technical rules of Evidence Act nor of proof fact or evidence as defined
therein, apply to disciplinary proceeding. When the authority accepts that
evidence and conclusion receives support therefrom, the disciplinary authority
is entitled to hold that the delinquent officer is guilty of the charge. The
Court/Tribunal in its power of judicial review does not act as appellate
authority to re- appreciate the evidence and to arrive at its own independent
findings on the evidence. The Court/Tribunal may interfere where the authority
held that the proceedings against the delinquent officer in a manner
inconsistent with the rules of natural justice or in violation of statutory
rules prescribing the mode of inquiry or where the conclusion or finding
reached by the disciplinary authority is based on no evidence. If the
conclusion or finding be such as no reasonable person would have ever reached,
the Court/Tribunal may interfere with the conclusion or the finding, and mould
the relief so as to make it appropriate to the facts of each case."
(2003) 3 SCC 605, this Court observed at p.614 scc as under:- "If the
charged employee holds a position of trust where honesty and integrity are
inbuilt requirements of functioning, it would not be proper to deal with the
in such cases has to be dealt with iron hands. Where the person deals with
public money or is engaged in financial transactions or acts in a fiduciary
capacity, the highest degree of integrity and trust- worthiness is a must and
in that background, conclusions of the Division Bench of the High Court do not
appear to be proper. We set aside the same and restore order of learned Single
Judge upholding the order of dismissal."
By now it is well-settled principle of law that judicial review is not against
the decision. It is against the decision making process. In the instant case,
there are no allegations of procedural irregularities/illegality and also there
is no allegation of violation of principles of natural justice. Counsel for the
respondent tried to sustain the allegation of malafide.
tried to assert that the respondent filed a case against the Chief Manager of Secunderabad
Branch in 1996 and the enquiry initiated against the respondent is the fall out
of malafide. We are unable to accept the bald allegations. The allegation of malafide
was not substantiated. It is well settled law that the allegation of malafide
cannot be based on surmises and conjectures. It should be based on factual
matrix. Counsel also tried to assert the violation of principles of natural
justice on the ground that the documents required by the respondent were not
supplied to him. From the averment it is seen that the documents, which were
sought to be required by the respondent, were all those bills submitted by the
respondent himself before the authority. In these circumstances, no prejudice
whatsoever was caused to the respondent.
As already noticed the charge of the respondent was violation of Regulation
3(1) of Bank of India Officer Employees (Conduct)
Regulations, 1976. The Regulation require that every officer employee shall at
all times take all possible steps to ensure and protect the interest of the
Bank and discharge his duties with utmost integrity, honesty, devotion and
diligence and do nothing which is unbecoming of a Bank Officer.
In the view that we have taken the impugned order of the Division Bench of the
High Court is unsustainable in law. It is accordingly set-aside. The Order of
the learned Single Judge is restored. The Writ Petition filed by the respondent
shall stand dismissed. The appeal is allowed. No costs.
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 640 OF 2005 In view of the order passed in Civil Appeal No.298
of 2005, Civil Appeal No.640 of 2005 is dismissed.