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Non-Consideration of vital aspects in documents a valid ground to review Disciplinary Authority’s Order: Madras High Court

There are two aspects, which are to be considered in such circumstances. The disciplinary authority considered certain materials and the Reviewing Authority if found that certain intricacies are vital aspect involved in that documents are not considered by the Disciplinary Authority, then, it is to be construed that such matters were not brought to the notice or not available or not considered by the Disciplinary Authority these were upheld by the High Court of Madras  through the learned bench of Justice SM Subramaniam in the case Manimaran v. The Chief General Manager/ Reviewing Authority, Canara Bank & Ors. (WP(MD).3047/2022)

The crux of the case is the petitioner was appointed as a Clerk in the respondent Bank in the year 1996 and he was promoted as Scale-I Officer and further promoted to the post of Scale-II Officer namely, Manager of the Branch. Disciplinary proceedings were initiated against the writ petitioner for certain irregularities in financial matters. Charge Memorandum was issued and an enquiry was conducted. Based on the enquiry report, the punishment of reduction of a lower grade i.e., from MMG Scale-II to JMG Scale-I, by fixing his basic pay at Rs. 48,170/- was imposed. The appellate authority also confirmed the punishment imposed by the original authority. Under these circumstances, the 1st Respondent / Reviewing Authority, issued the show-cause notice in the impugned proceedings, on the ground that the lapses / charges held as proved against the petitioner clearly evidences mala fide intention on the part of the petitioner and touches upon his honesty and integrity.

The learned counsel for the petitioner mainly contended that the Reviewing Authority has no power to issue the show-cause notice in violation of the power of review conferred under Clause 18 of the Canara Bank Officer Employees (Discipline & Appeal) Regulation 1976. The power of review shall be exercised only when a new material or evidence, which could not be produced or was not available at the time of passing the orders under review and which has the effect of changing the nature of the case, has come or has been brought to the notice and pass such orders thereon, as it may deem fit. Relying on the said Regulation, the learned counsel for the petitioner reiterated that there is absolutely no materials found in the impugned show-cause notice.

The learned bench of Justice SM Subramaniam observed that the power of reviewing authority is not intended for mechanical exercise and aims at a clear application of mind. This would include whether the nature of charges have been already proved or not and whether the punishment imposed is in commensuration with the gravity of charges so proved or not proved. The Reviewing Authority shall also examine if all the material aspects ought to be considered by the Disciplinary Authority have been taken into account or not.

“The disciplinary authority considered certain materials and the Reviewing Authority if found that certain intricacies which are vital aspects involved in that documents are not considered by the Disciplinary Authority, then, it is to be construed that such matters were not brought to the notice or not available or not considered by the Disciplinary Authority. Such materials are to be treated as new materials for the purpose of reviewing the order”, observed the court.

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Judgement reviewed by Himanshu Ranjan

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