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The High Court is not and cannot act as a second court of the first appeal: Orissa High Court

It is very disconcerting that the High Court functioned as a disciplinary appeal authority and even re-evaluated the evidence before the investigating officer. The disciplinary authority approved the finding on Charge and the Central Advisory Tribunal likewise backed it. The High Court cannot and is not able to operate as a second court of the first appeal in disciplinary proceedings. The judgment was passed by The High Court of Orissa in the case of Sk. Mohammed Idris V. Life Insurance Corporation of India [W.P.(C) No.18071 of 2009] by a Single Bench consisting of Hon’ble Shri Justice Biswanath Rath.

The petitioner preferred an appeal under Regulation 40 of the Regulation, 1960, inter alia, which contained that he is in no way connected with the charges framed. Considering the claim of the petitioner contesting the order passed by the Disciplinary Authority, the Appellate Authority, rejected the Appeal finding no scope for interfering with the order passed by the Disciplinary Authority.

Learned Counsel for the petitioner submitted that plea of the petitioner before the Enquiry Officer and the contents of the enquiry report contended that there has been no proper enquiry before coming to hold the petitioner guilty. Sri Patnaik also contended that even though the petitioner raised all these grounds before the Appellate Authority as well as the highest Authority of the Institution, i.e. the Chairman, everybody failed to appreciate the grounds raised by the petitioner, and therefore, claimed all the impugned orders involved herein should be interfered with and set aside.

Learned Counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, taking this Court to the findings of the Enquiry Officer, the findings of the Disciplinary Authority, the First Appellate Authority and the Second Appellate Authority in his opposition to the claim of the petitioner submitted that for the concurrent findings of fact by all the three Authorities involved in a disciplinary proceeding issue, there is no scope for interfering with any of the impugned orders. He referred to the enquiry report, the findings of the disciplinary authority also contended that there is even otherwise also no merit in the claim of the petitioner.

While clearing the contention the learned court observed that “looking to the gravity of offence involved here and examining the punishment imposed on the petitioner also finds for petitioner being punished with word of “Censure” and 50% recovery of the amount stolen, the Authorities themselves have taken a very lenient view requiring no further indulgence.”

While dismissing the petition the learned court held that “for the involvement of concurrent finding of facts by so many Authorities, this Court has no scope for interfering with such findings. Further looking to the nature of the allegation and holding the petitioner guilty on such serious allegation involving missing of huge cash, it is also a clear case of the employee failed to maintain his integrity and responsibility during discharge of employment and there is the establishment of a serious charge warranting no sympathy on such person, particularly keeping in view the involvement of a financial institution.”

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