Balancing Equity and Fairness: Court Quashes Harsh Penalty, Directs Reconsideration in Landmark Decision: Rajasthan High Court

Title: Shashi Bala Meena vs Punjab National Bank

Citation: S.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 7612/2015


Decided on: 24/05/23


The petitioner has filed an instant petition seeking the court’s acceptance and allowance of the writ petition. The prayer includes a request for the court to quash and set aside certain orders, reinstate the petitioner in service with consequential benefits and interest, and any other order deemed fit by the Hon’ble Court. Additionally, the petitioner seeks the award of costs in their favor.


The petitioner, a Senior Manager at a bank, faced multiple transfers during her service and was granted three promotions with an unblemished record. Following a transfer to Alwar Branch, she sought retention due to family circumstances. Despite requests and applications for medical leave, the petitioner was relieved to join Alwar Branch. Subsequently, an expedited enquiry was initiated, and the petitioner, suffering from Arthritis, was compelled to join. The enquiry concluded swiftly, resulting in an order of compulsory retirement. The petitioner alleges a hasty and unfair process, citing medical conditions and unavailed privilege leave. The respondents argue willful absence and alternative remedies. The court emphasizes an employee’s duty to obey transfer orders but acknowledges the need for proportionality in disciplinary action, highlighting the recognized doctrine of proportionality in judicial review.

Judgement analysis:

The court, invoking the principle of rendering equitable justice, acknowledges the need for compelling circumstances to interfere with a penalty’s quantum. Emphasizing fair play in administrative decisions, the judgment considers the impact on both the employee and management, recognizing the gravity of imposing punishment affecting livelihoods. In light of the petitioner’s 25 years of unblemished service, unavailed privilege leaves, and the circumstances surrounding her transfer and subsequent compulsory retirement, the court deems the punishment harsh. It rejects cited judgments as inapplicable to this case.

Applying the doctrine of proportionality, the court quashes the impugned orders and remits the matter for reconsideration of the punishment within three months. While allowing the petition in part, the court directs the petitioner’s reinstatement without back wages from the date of compulsory retirement.

The judgment places the onus on the appropriate authority to reassess the penalty, emphasizing a balanced approach that considers the specific circumstances of the case. The decision reflects a nuanced understanding of administrative decisions affecting individuals’ livelihoods.

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Written By: Gauri Joshi

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