While upholding the dismissal of a bank employee, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that in the banking business honesty, devotion and integrity is a sine qua non for every employee of the bank.
Background of the case:-
In 1999, Ajay Kumar Srivastav who worked as a Clerk/Cashier, was dismissed as he was found guilty of misappropriation of funds. The departmental appeal filed by Ajay was also dismissed. However, the Allahabad High Court set aside the order because the Court held that Ajay was not provided with a fair opportunity to present his case. The disciplinary authority did not examine the disciplinary inquiry record and passed a non-speaking order without mind application.
Observations of the Apex Court
Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that Charge No.1, which was overturned by the disciplinary authority was severable from other charges against Mr Srivastava and were proved before the Enquiry Officer. The authority confirmed the findings of the after addressing the objections raised by Mr Srivastav.
In the instant judgment, the Bench made the following observations concerning the power of judicial review in cases of disciplinary proceedings:-
- The Bench observed that the power of judicial review is the evaluation of the decision-making process and not of the decision itself. The object is to ensure fairness of treatment and not the fairness of conclusion. The Tribunal/Court may interfere in proceedings initiated against a delinquent if natural justice principles are not followed correctly and if the Court reached a conclusion without any evidence. The Court stated that the judicial review scope was not to examine correctness or reasonableness of a decision.
- In enquiry conducted against public servants they should determine and examine i,) whether a competent authority conducted the examination, ii) whether the findings were based on evidence and proof, iii) whether the authority/Court followed natural justice rules.
- If the disciplinary authority does not agree with the inquiry officer’s findings, then the disciplinary authority should record the reasons for the same.
- While exercising their jurisdiction under Article 226 and Article 136, Constitutional Courts should not interfere in findings of a departmental enquiry except in cases of perversity and malafide intention.
- The Court noted that even though strict rules of evidence are not followed in departmental proceedings, only requirement as per law is that the conclusion or decision should be based on substantial evidence and after application of mind.
While setting aside the order, the Bench observed that bank employees should have absolute devotion, honesty and integrity and if the employees don’t have a good conduct or lack discipline then the confidence of the depositors/general public might waiver.
Title: DEPUTY GENERAL MANAGER vs AJAI KUMAR SRIVASTAVA
Case No.: SLP(C) No. 32067-32068 of 2018
Date of Order:05.01.2021
Coram: Hon’ble Justice L Nageswara Rao, Hon’ble Justice Hemant Gupta and Hon’ble Justice Ajay Rastogi