Co-Operative Bank Ltd.,
Vs. Vidhya Varidh Mishra  Insc 449 (11 August 2004)
S. N. Variava & A. K.
Mathur [Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No.16141 of 2001] S. N. Variava, J.
This appeal is against the judgment of the Allahabad High Court dated 20th July 2001.
Briefly stated the facts are as follows.
The Respondent was working as a Clerk-cum-Cashier in the Appellant-Bank. In
October 1978 he was suspended in connection with embezzlement of Rs.15,000/-. A
disciplinary inquiry was held against the Respondent. In the disciplinary
inquiry, the Respondent was found to have had a hand in the embezzlement. The
Inquiry Officer proposed punishment of termination of service and recovery of
It appears that the Administrative Committee of the Bank decided to take a
lenient view and proposed to impose a punishment of withholding two annual
increments and recording adverse entries in the character roll. When this
proposal was sent to the Registrar, Co- operative Societies, the Registrar
opined that the charges were serious and that they had been held proved in the
disciplinary inquiry. It was opined that on these charges termination should
take place. The Registrar did not, therefore, approve the minor punishment
proposed to be imposed on the Respondent. The Bank thus decided to dismiss the
Respondent. By a letter dated 6th April 1989 the services of the Respondent
It must be mentioned that the Respondent was also charge sheeted and faced a
criminal trial. The Trial Court had found the Respondent guilty and had
convicted him. However, subsequent to 6th April 1989, the Appellate Court
exonerated the Respondent on the ground that he was merely negligent in his
duties and that no criminal offence had been made out.
After the Appellate Court exonerated the Respondent, he made an application
to the Appellant-Bank to reconsider the order of termination. This application
was rejected on 20th December, 1991.
The Respondent filed a Writ Petition in the Allahabad High Court challenging
the Order dated 20th December, 1991. In this Writ Petition, there was no
challenge to the order of termination dated 6th April, 1989.
A Single Judge of the Allahabad High Court allowed the Writ Petition and
directed reinstatement. It was held that for this very act the Respondent had
already been awarded punishment of withholding two annual increments and an
adverse entry in the character roll. It was held that for the same offence that
he could not again be subjected to double punishment.
The Appeal filed by the Appellant has been dismissed by the Division Bench
by the impugned judgment. It was pointed out to the Division Bench that there
was no double punishment as the earlier proposal had not been approved by the Registrar.
The Division Bench holds that as the Bank had itself thought it fit to impose
only a minor punishment, they could not now terminate the services of the
We have heard counsel for the parties. In our view, the Single Judge has
gone completely wrong. There was no double punishment.
The earlier proposal to impose minor punishment had not been approved by the
Registrar. Therefore, the minor punishment had not been awarded or imposed. In
our view, the Division Bench has clearly erred. The participation of the
Respondent in the embezzlement having been proved, in a disciplinary inquiry,
the proper punishment was termination of service. More importantly, both the
learned Single Judge as well as the Division Bench completely overlooked the fact
that the termination was by the Order dated 6th April 1989. This Order had not been challenged in the Writ Petition. There being no challenge to that
Order, reinstatement could not have been directed.
Mr. Rao submitted that the Respondent had been exonerated by the Criminal
Court. He submitted that the termination was only on the basis of his
conviction. He submitted that as his conviction is set aside, the Courts below
were right in reinstating the Respondent. We are unable to accede to this
submission. The termination was pursuant to a disciplinary inquiry. It is
settled law that in a disciplinary inquiry a conclusion different from that
arrived at by a Criminal Court, may be arrived at. The strict burden of proof
required to establish guilt in a Criminal Court is not required in disciplinary
The Respondent had not claimed that the disciplinary proceedings were not
conducted fairly. As the termination was based on findings of the Disciplinary
Committee, the fact that the Appellate Court exonerated the Respondent was of
Mr. Rao next submitted that the matter should be remitted back to the High
Court with an opportunity to the Respondent to amend his Writ Petition and to
show to the Court that the order of termination was based on the Respondent
being convicted by the Criminal Court.
We are unable to accede to this request also. We have gone through all the
documents. It is clear that the order of termination was based on the findings
given in the disciplinary proceedings. On these findings, it cannot be said
that the order of termination was not correct.
Under these circumstances, the Appeal is allowed. The impugned Order as well
as the Order of the learned Single Judge are set aside. The Writ Petition filed
by the Respondent stands dismissed.
There will be no order as to costs.