Canara Bank vs Kameshwar Singh on 8 January, 2020


Supreme Court of India

Canara Bank vs Kameshwar Singh on 8 January, 2020

Author: S. Abdul Nazeer

Bench: S. Abdul Nazeer, Sanjiv Khanna

                                                   1


                                                               REPORTABLE



                               IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                   CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 66­67 OF 2020
          (Arising out of S.L.P. (Civil) Nos. 36477­36478 of 2017)


         CANARA BANK AND ORS.                                  … APPELLANTS

                                               VERSUS

         KAMESHWAR SINGH                                       … RESPONDENT




                                          JUDGMENT

S. ABDUL NAZEER, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. Canara Bank and its functionaries have filed these appeals
Signature Not Verified

challenging the judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court of
Digitally signed by
ASHWANI KUMAR
Date: 2020.01.08
16:33:53 IST
Reason:

Judicature at Patna in LPA Nos. 1430 of 2013 and 849 of 2013,
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dated 14.07.2017, whereby the order of punishment passed against

the respondent by the Appellate Authority, namely, the General

Manager of the Bank, was quashed and the matter was remitted to

the Disciplinary Authority, namely, the Deputy General Manager to

proceed with the inquiry from the stage of receipt of the inquiry

report and to conclude the proceedings in accordance with law.

3. The brief facts necessary for the disposal of these appeals are

that the respondent was appointed on the post of Clerk with the

Appellant­Bank in the year 1978 and was subsequently granted

promotion under the relevant rules of the bank. On 08.08.2008 the

respondent was posted and working as Scale I officer of the bank at

its Swarajpuri, Gaya Branch. He was put under suspension with

effect from 20.09.2008 in view of the order passed by the Deputy

General Manager of the Bank in contemplation of a departmental

proceedings. The respondent was served with a chargesheet dated

14.02.2009 containing articles of charges and statement of

imputations to articles of charges. The respondent submitted his

explanation on 10.03.2009 denying the allegation of misconduct

and praying therein that the proceeding initiated against him may
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be dropped and order of suspension passed against him may be

recalled.

4. However, the Bank not being satisfied with the explanation

furnished by the respondent, decided to proceed with the

departmental proceeding initiated against him. One Shri L.N. Jha,

the Senior Manager of the Bank was appointed as Inquiring

Authority and one Shri S.K. Sinha, the Manager of the Bank was

appointed as the Presenting Officer. A preliminary inquiry was held

on 28.04.2009. Regular inquiry was commenced w.e.f. 18.05.2009.

The respondent nominated one Shri B.K. Sinha as defence

representative to participate in the departmental inquiry. He

participated in the said inquiry and presented the defence of the

respondent.

5. In the departmental inquiry, four persons were examined as

management witnesses. One Deepak Kumar Singh was examined

as defence witness. Apart from the oral testimonies of the

witnesses, some material documents were also produced from both

sides, which were marked as management exhibits and defence

exhibits respectively.

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6. On the basis of the materials on record, the Inquiring Officer

submitted his report dated 02.07.2009 holding the respondent

guilty of the charges. A copy of the inquiry report was forwarded to

the respondent by letter dated 03.07.2009 issued under the

signature of the Deputy General Manager and Disciplinary

Authority. The respondent was called upon to file his

representation or submissions on the findings arrived at by the

Inquiring Authority. Accordingly, the respondent submitted his

representation/submissions. Thereafter, an order dated 18.8.2009

was passed by the General Manager and Disciplinary Authority,

whereby the punishment of compulsory retirement was inflicted

upon the respondent in terms of Regulation 4(h) of the Canara

Bank Officers and Employees (Discipline and Appeal) Regulations,

1976 (for short ‘Discipline and Appeal Regulations, 1976’). The

appeal preferred by the respondent was dismissed by the Appellate

Authority on 22.03.2010.

7. The respondent challenged the said order by filing a writ

petition before the High Court in Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No.

10295 of 2010. During the pendency of this writ petition, review
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application filed by the respondent was also rejected by the

Chairman­cum­Reviewing Authority by order dated 30.07.2010.

The Interlocutory Application filed by the respondent seeking

amendment of the writ petition in order to assail the validity and

correctness of the order passed by the Reviewing Authority was

allowed by the High Court.

8. Learned Single Judge came to the conclusion that the General

Manager of the Bank was justified in passing the order in view of

Regulation 5(3) of the Discipline and Appeal Regulations, 1976.

However, the learned Single Judge found that neither the Appellate

Authority nor the Reviewing Authority have answered the grounds

taken on behalf of the respondent in his appeal and review petition

respectively. Therefore, the learned Single Judge remitted the

matter, at the first instance, to the Appellate Authority for

reconsideration of the matter as under:

“For the reasons recorded above, the matter
requires reconsideration by the specified and
authorized Appellate Authority as also the
Reviewing Authority. They are under legal
obligations to decide all the issues raised and
grounds taken on behalf of the petitioner in
his memo of appeal as also in review petition,
which has not been done in the present case.

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Since the matter is being remitted to the
appellate authority, at the first instance,
therefore, this Court is not inclined to decide
other issues raised on behalf of the parties,
which have been noted in the preceding
paragraphs.”

9. The Bank has challenged this order in LPA No. 1430 of 2013

before the Division Bench. The respondent has also challenged the

order of the learned Single Judge in LPA No. 849 of 2013. The

Division Bench after considering the rival contentions of the parties,

has set aside the order of the learned Single Judge and remitted the

matter to the Deputy General Manager to proceed with the inquiry

from the stage of receipt of the inquiry report and thereafter to

conclude the proceeding in accordance with law.

10. We have heard learned counsel for the parties.

11. The Division Bench has interfered with the order of the

learned Single Judge on the ground that the General Manager being

an authority higher to Disciplinary Authority cannot exercise the

power of the Disciplinary Authority. Therefore, the Division Bench

quashed the order of punishment and remitted the matter to the
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Disciplinary Authority, namely, the Deputy General Manager for

fresh consideration in accordance with law.

12. Regulation 5 of the Discipline and Appeal Regulations, 1976,

provides for the authority to institute disciplinary proceedings and

impose penalties, which is reproduced below:

“5 Authority to institute disciplinary proceedings
and impose penalties:

(1) The Managing Director or any other
authority empowered by him or by general or
special order may institute or direct the
Disciplinary Authority to institute
disciplinary proceedings against an officer
employee of the bank.

(2) The Disciplinary Authority may himself
institute disciplinary proceedings.

(3) The Disciplinary Authority or any other
authority higher than it, may impose any of
the penalties specified in regulation 4 on any
officer employee.”
(Emphasis supplied)

13. It is clear from the aforesaid Regulation 5(3) that the

Disciplinary Authority or any other authority higher than it, may

impose any penalties specified in Regulation 4 on any officer

employee. In the instant case, the departmental proceedings

against the respondent were initiated by the Deputy General
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Manager being the Disciplinary Authority. But the order of

punishment has been passed by the General Manager, who was

higher than the Disciplinary Authority. Having regard to Regulation

5(3), the Division Bench was not justified in holding that General

manager has no authority to pass the order of punishment.

14. In the result, the appeals succeed and are accordingly allowed.

The order of the Division Bench impugned herein is set aside and

the order of the learned Single Judge remitting the matter to the

authorised Appellate Authority for reconsideration of the appeal is

restored.

15. Parties to bear their respective costs.

……….……………………J.

(S. ABDUL NAZEER)

….…………………………J.

(SANJIV KHANNA)
New Delhi;

January 08, 2020.



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