The court can’t interfere with the conclusion of the Inquiry report if it has been conducted in accordance with law: Odisha HC

Does the court have power and discretion to interfere in the inquiry procedures, where they can decide the eligibility of an inquiry officer or his appointment?, is the underlying question of this case. The Odisha HC in the writ appeal case of Chairman, Odisha Gramya Bank v. Rama Chandra Behera, [W.A. No.62 of 2020, chaired by Justice Sanju Panda & Justice S. K. Panigrahi forwarded a remarkable stand to the above question, answering in negative the court opined that, “Despite the well-settled position, it is painfully disturbing to note that the learned Single Judge has acted like an appellate authority of the disciplinary proceedings and quashed the proceedings wrongly.”

The respondent was originally appointed for the post of a clerk-cum-cashier in the Mitrapur Branch of Balasore Gramya Bank in the District of Balasore on 12.06.1985. By the year 1989 the respondent was a promoted several times, yet later that year he was suspected of being involved in various fraudulent and criminal activities which was assumed to have been committed during his time in office as an additional officer. The appointment of Mr. P.K. Bose as the inquiry officer was made and the inquiry against the respondent was initiated. Further upon the completion of the inquiry, the inquiry report was submitted on 02.12.2002 and reply was sought in the second show-cause notice issued to the present respondent within fifteen days from the date of receipt of letter. Respondent sought to challenge the second show-cause notice by way of W.P.(C) No.6558 of 2002 with a prayer to quash the second show-cause notice. The learned Single Judge passed the judgment in favor of respondent, setting aside the second show-cause notice and appointment of P.K. Bose, as inquiry officer. The present writ appeal was brought before the Odisha HC to challenge the judgment dated on 24th December 2019.

After examining all the submissions, arguments and evidences forwarded by the councils, the hon’ble HC observed that, “The Respondent’s objection regarding the deuptationist status of the Inquiry officer is also unsustainable because such status of Sri P. K. Bose does not bar his appointment as an Inquiring Officer by the competent authority. Hence, the proposed inquiry report by the Inquiring Officer and the second show-cause notice cannot be held to be non est or void abinitio.” The bench further added that, the decision made by the learned single judge remained unsuccessful in drawing a “reasonable nexus between the submissions of the Respondent herein and the correct position of law”.

In lieu of the above made considerations and observations, the bench in this present case allowed the writ appeal and thereby overruled the decision of the learned single judge in W.P.(C) No.6558 of 2002.

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