Devotion, Integrity and Honesty is a Sine Qua Non for every Bank employee: Supreme Court of India

Upholding the dismissal of a Bank clerk, Supreme Court observed that it is every Bank employees’ duty to work with devotion and integrity and honesty in the Banking Business. This was held in the case of Deputy General Manager (Appellate authority) vs. Ajai Kumar Srivastava [SLP(C) No(s). 32067­32068 of 2018] presided over by the bench of Hon’ble Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Ajay Rastogi.

In the above cited case, in 1999, Ajay Kumar Srivastava, was found guilty of charges of misappropriation of funds and was dismissed after holding the disciplinary enquiry. He had filed a departmental appeal, which was also dismissed by the authorities. When the writ petition was filed by the respondent in the HC, Allahabad High Court rejected the dismissal of the respondent by giving two reasons.

    1. High Court felt that fair opportunity of hearing was not being afforded to the respondent delinquent and that had caused prejudice to him.
    2. The disciplinary authority/appellate authority had not examined the record of disciplinary enquiry independently and had passed a non­speaking order without due application of mind.

When the appeal was filed in Supreme Court, it was being observed that the Charge no. 1 in reference to which the finding recorded by the enquiry officer had been overturned, the charges were proved by the enquiry officer against the employee and the finding of fact was confirmed by the disciplinary/appellate authority after meeting out objections raised by the respondent delinquent at different stages.

In the judgment itself, SC contended about the power of judicial review in matters of disciplinary proceedings and was decided that the scope of judicial review cannot be extended to the examination of correctness or reasonableness of a decision of authority as a matter of fact. SC explained that what should be done in the cases when departmental enquiry is held against any public servant.

SC observed the Constitutional Court while exercising its jurisdiction of judicial review under Article 226 or Article 136 of the Constitution should not interfere with the findings of fact arrived at in the departmental enquiry proceedings except in a case of malafides or perversity and if there is some evidence to support the conclusion arrived at by the departmental authority, the same needs to be sustained.

It was stated that in these type of cases, the only requirement of law is that the allegation against the public servant must be established by such evidence acting upon which a reasonable person may arrive at the upholding of the charge.

Hence, setting aside the decision of High Court, Supreme Court stated that “We need to emphasize that in banking business absolute devotion, integrity and honesty is a sine qua non for every bank employee. It requires the employee to maintain good conduct and discipline and he deals with money of the depositors and the customers and if it is not observed, the confidence of the public/depositors would be impaired. It is for this additional reason, we are of the opinion that the High Court has committed an apparent error in setting aside the order of dismissal of the respondent dated 24th July, 1999 confirmed in departmental appeal by order dated 15th November, 1999.” Therefore SC upheld the dismissal of Ajai Kumar Srivastava.

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