Bank of Hydrabad Vs. Rangachary  INSC 17 (12 January 1994)
Reddy, B.P. (J) Jeevan Reddy, B.P. (J) Hansaria B.L. (J)
1994 SCC Supl. (2) 479 1994 SCALE (1)633
This appeal is preferred against the order of the Division Bench of the Andhra
Pradesh High Court allowing the writ petition on the only ground that copy of
the Enquiry Officer's report was not supplied to the respondent delinquent
officer before imposing the punishment. A few facts need be stated.
respondent was appointed as a clerk in the appellant-Bank (State Bank of Hyderabad). On 16-10-1976, he was promoted to the post of Officer Grade II. In the
year 1981, he was working as Grade I Officer at Sangareddy Branch. With respect
to his work at the said branch certain complaints were received and after
obtaining his explanation, three charges were framed against him. An Enquiry
Officer was appointed to inquire into those charges.
holding the inquiry, the Enquiry Officer held that charges 1 and 2 are not
proved but charge 3 is proved.
matter was placed before the disciplinary authority as required by
sub-regulation (3) of Regulation 68 of State Bank of Hyderabad (Officers) Service Regulations,
1979. The disciplinary authority agreed with the findings of the Enquiry
Officer and since he was not competent to impose major penalty, which in his
opinion was called for in the case, he placed the entire record along with his
recommendations before the appointing authority as required by sub-regulation
(3) of Regulation 68. The appointing authority, however, disagreed with the
findings of the Enquiry Officer on charges 1 and 2 (which were concurred in by
the disciplinary authority). The appointing authority found charges 1 and 2
also proved. Accordingly, he imposed the punishment of compulsory retirement.
respondent approached the High Court by way of a writ petition against the said
order of punishment. It was heard by a learned Single Judge in the first
instance who referred the matter to a Division Bench on the question whether it
is necessary to give an opportunity to the delinquent officer to show cause
where the disciplinary authority/appointing authority disagrees with the
findings recorded by the Enquiry Officer on some or all the charges.
Division Bench considered the said question at length and held that there is no
such requirement in the rules nor such a requirement can be deduced from the
principles of natural justice. Having so expressed itself, the Division Bench
allowed the writ petition on the ground that the copy of the Enquiry Officer's
report was not supplied to the respondent before imposing the punishment. This
it did purporting to follow the decision of this Court in Union of India v. Mohd.
(1991) 1 SCC 588: 1991 SCC (L&S) 612:(1991) 16 ATC 505 481 6.The question
whether the non-supply of Enquiry Officer's report vitiates the order of
punishment and, if so, in what manner, has been fully considered by the
Constitution Bench in Managing Director, ECIL, Hyderabad v. B. Karunakar2. It
is pursuant to the said judgment that this matter is placed before us. Since
the order of punishment in this case is earlier to the date of judgment in Ramzan
Khan case', it must be held that the non-supply of Enquiry Officer's report
does not vitiate the order of punishment.
counsel for the respondent, however, raised another contention based upon the
language of sub-regulation (3) of Regulation 68 aforesaid. Regulation 68
describes the procedure to be followed in the disciplinary inquiry. It is a
very lengthy regulation and need not be reproduced in full. It is enough if we
notice sub-clause (b) of clause (xxi) of sub-regulation (2) of Regulation 68
and sub- regulation (3) of Regulation 68. ' They read as follows:
68(2)(xxi)(b) : The inquiring authority, where it is not itself the
disciplinary authority, shall forward to the disciplinary authority the records
of inquiry which shall include
report of the inquiry prepared by it under (a) above;
written statement of defence, if any, submitted by the officer referred to in
oral and documentary evidence produced in the course of the inquiry;
briefs referred to in clause (xviii) if any; and
orders, if any, made by the disciplinary authority and the inquiring authority
in regard to the inquiry.
The disciplinary authority, if it is not itself the inquiring authority, may,
for reasons to be recorded by it in writing, remit the case to the inquiring
authority in the same or different for fresh or further inquiry and report, and
the inquiring authority shall thereupon proceed to hold further inquiry
according to the provisions of sub- regulation (2) as far as may be.
disciplinary authority shall, if it disagrees with the findings of the
inquiring authority on any article of charge, record its reasons for such
disagreement and record its own findings on such charge, if the evidence on
record is sufficient for the purpose.
the disciplinary authority, having regard to its findings on all or any of the
article of charge, is of the opinion that any of the penalties specified in
Regulation 67 should be imposed on the officer, it shall notwithstanding
anything contained in sub-regulation (4), make an order imposing such penalty,
Provided that where the disciplinary authority is of the opinion that the
penalty to be imposed is any of the major penalties specified in clauses (e),
(f), (g) and (h) of Regulation 67 and if it is lower in rank to the appointing
authority in respect of the category of officers to which the officer belongs,
it shall submit to the appointing authority the records of the inquiry
specified in clauses (xxi)(b) of sub-regulation (2), together with its
recommendations regarding the penalty that may be imposed and the 2 (1993) 4
SCC 727: 1993 SCC (L&S) II 84: (1993) 25 ATC 704: JT (1993) 6 SC 1 482
appointing authority shall make an order imposing such penalty as it considers
in its opinion appropriate.
the disciplinary authority or the appointing authority as the case may be,
having regard to its findings on all or any of the articles of charge, is of
the opinion that no penalty is called for, it may pass an order exonerating the
officer concerned." 8.A reading of the above provisions shows that the
Enquiry Officer has to submit the record and his findings along with his
recommendation to the disciplinary authority.
disciplinary authority agrees with the findings it can impose the punishment
which it is competent to do.
if, disciplinary authority disagrees with the findings of the enquiring
authority on any article of charge it is under an obligation to record its
reasons for disagreement and record its own findings on such charges.
however, the disciplinary authority is of the opinion that any of the major
penalties mentioned in clauses (e), (f), (g) and (h) of Regulation 67 ought to
be imposed, which he cannot impose, he has to make over the entire record along
with his recommendations to the appointing authority.
open to the appointing authority to impose such penalty as it considers
appropriate in its opinion. Clause (iv) of sub-regulation (3) shows that it is
open to the appointing authority as well as the disciplinary authority to come
to their own findings on all or any of the article of charges and if they are
of the opinion that no penalty is called for notwithstanding the report of the
Enquiry Officer, they can pass an order exonerating the delinquent officer. Now
the contention of Mr B. Parthasarthy, learned counsel for the respondent is
that the appointing authority cannot differ from the findings recorded by the
Enquiry Officer which have been agreed to by the disciplinary authority.
According to the learned counsel the only jurisdiction of the appointing
authority is to impose penalty based upon the findings recorded by the Enquiry
Officer and accepted by the disciplinary authority. We are afraid, we cannot
agree with the said contention in the face of clear language of clauses (iii)
and (iv) of sub- regulation (3). The last sentence in the proviso to clause
(iii) clearly says that "the appointing authority shall make an order
imposing such penalty as it considers in its opinion appropriate". This
shows that appointing authority is not bound by the recommendation made by the
disciplinary authority regarding penalty and that he can come to his own
conclusion on the question of penalty. Now how can he come to a different
conclusion on the question of penalty, if he cannot differ from the
recommendation of the disciplinary authority regarding penalty and, if
necessary, with his findings. In any event, this matter is placed beyond doubt
by the language of clause (iv) which says that the disciplinary authority or
the appointing authority, as the case may be, is of the opinion, "having
regard to its findings" on all or any of the articles of charge, that no
penalty is called for, he may pass an order exonerating the officer. In other
words, it is open to the appointing authority to disagree with the findings of
the Enquiry Officer, which may have been affirmed by the disciplinary authority
and yet find that the articles of charge are not proved. If he can do this, he
can also do the converse i.e., where the findings are in favour of the
delinquent officer, he can disagree with them and hold the officer guilty.
This, in our opinion, is the true construction of sub-regulation (3) read as a
whole. The appointing authority cannot be constricted by the opinions of either
the Enquiry Officer or the 483 disciplinary authority, nor can he be reduced to
a mere instrument for imposing higher punishment. We see no reason to shackle
his discretion and authority inhering in him as the appointing authority.
are, therefore, of the opinion that there is no substance in the submission of Mr
Parthasarthy, learned counsel for the respondent which appears to be based
exclusively upon the opening words in clause (ii) of sub- regulation (3). In
fact, one must read the entire sub- regulation to properly appreciate its
the above reasons, the appeal is allowed. The judgment of the Division Bench of
the High Court is set aside and the order of punishment is restored. No costs.
granting notice in the special leave petition this Court made the following
order on 7-5-1991:
notice returnable within ten weeks.
will be interim stay of the operation of the judgment of the High Court on
condition that the appellant-Bank will treat the respondent as if under
suspension and grant him subsistence allowance from the date of the High Court
judgment as admissible under the rules to one who is under suspension, subject
to the final result of the petition." 12.Now that we have allowed the
appeal, the stay order shall cease to operate. However, the respondent is
entitled to terminal benefits or other benefits, if any, according to his
conditions of service. The same shall be paid to him in accordance with law.