Umesh Kumar Pahwa vs The Board Of Directors … on 11 February, 2022


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Supreme Court of India

Umesh Kumar Pahwa vs The Board Of Directors … on 11 February, 2022

Author: M.R. Shah

Bench: M.R. Shah, B.V. Nagarathna

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                                                                       [REPORTABLE]

                                     IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                      CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                    CIVIL APPEAL NOS.796­799 OF 2022



                         Umesh Kumar Pahwa                             .. Appellant


                                                    Versus


                         The Board of Directors Uttarakhand
                         Gramin Bank & Ors.                         .. Respondents


                                               JUDGMENT

M. R. Shah, J.

1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned

common judgment and order dated 17.07.2018 passed by the

High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital in Writ Petition (S/B)

No.4 of 2013 and Writ Petition (S/B) No.267 of 2013 as well as

Signature Not Verified
the order passed in the review applications dismissing the
Digitally signed by R
Natarajan
Date: 2022.02.11
16:55:53 IST
Reason:

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same vide common order dated 08.01.2020, the employee ­ the

original writ petitioner has preferred the present appeals.

2. That the appellant herein was serving as a Branch Officer

at Pratap Pur Branch of the Respondent – Bank. He has put

in 28 years’ of service. While he was serving at Pratap Pur

Branch during the period 27.06.2008 to 21.11.2008, a

complaint was made against the appellant by one borrower of

the Bank namely Karamjeet Singh on 17.09.2008 alleging that

the appellant had sanctioned the limit of loan of Rs.1,50,000/­

which was later on reduced to Rs.75,000/­. Four other

persons also made the complaint against the appellant. On

receiving the complaint against the appellant ­ the Chairman

of the Bank transferred him to another branch of the Bank,

during pendency of the inquiry pertaining to aforesaid

complaints. A show cause notice was issued to the appellant

seeking his explanation. The appellant replied to the said

show cause notice stating therein that the allegations in the

complaint are baseless, frivolous and fabricated. He also

made allegations of malice and bias against the Chairman of
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the Bank. The disciplinary proceedings were initiated against

the appellant. A charge­sheet was issued to him and following

charges were framed:

“1. He did not discharge his duties with integrity
and honesty and took such actions and committed
such omissions which showed lack of probity and
integrity on his part.

2. He committed serious violations of duty and
breach of trust reposed in him by the Bank and
misused his official position.

3. In the performance of his official duties and in
exercise of powers conferred on him, he
unauthorizedly exceeded his authority / powers
and did not report the same for / or obtained
approval / confirmation from higher authorities for
such excessive actions.

4. He flouted instructions of the higher authorities.

5. He adopted such steps and took such actions as
were derogatory, prejudicial and detrimental to the
interest of the bank.

6. He misrepresented and suppressed material
facts from higher authorities.

7. He knowingly and willfully violated Bank’s rules
and established procedures for his personal gains.

8. Due to his acts, bank is likely to suffer financial
losses.

9. He committed such acts which tarnished the
image of the Bank.

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10. He did acts unbecoming of an officer of the
Bank”

2.1 That the Bank decided to initiate an inquiry for a major

punishment. The appellant participated in the departmental

inquiry. The complainant, Karamjeet Singh was also

examined during the inquiry. The inquiry officer held the

charges No.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 as proved. On receipt

of the inquiry report the appellant submitted his reply and

contended that the findings of the Inquiry Officer are perverse

to the material placed on record and against the principle of

natural justice. He also made allegations of bias against the

Chairman of the Bank. Thereafter after considering the

inquiry report and giving opportunity to the appellant, the

disciplinary authority/Chairman of the Bank passed an order

of removal of the appellant from service. The appellant

preferred an appeal before the Appellate Authority and the

Appellant Authority dismissed the appeal vide order dated

20.12.2011. Feeling aggrieved against the order of removal
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from service, the appellant preferred the present writ petition

before the High Court being Writ Petition (S/B) No.4 of 2013.

2.2 During the pendency of Writ Petition (S/B) No.4 of 2013

the appellant also preferred another Writ Petition No.267 of

2013 seeking a writ of mandamus commanding the Bank to

grant promotion from Scale II to Scale III from the date when

those junior to him were promoted w.e.f. 30.03.2005. Both

the writ petitions were heard together. By the impugned

judgment and order the High Court has dismissed Writ

Petition (S/B) No.4 of 2013 confirming the order of removal

from service of the appellant. As the order of removal had

been confirmed, the High Court without further entering into

the merits of the case also dismissed Writ Petition (S/B)

No.267 of 2013 which was for seeking promotion from Scale II

to Scale III officer from the date when those juniors to the

appellant were promoted i.e. w.e.f. 30.03.2005.

Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned

common judgment and order passed in Writ Petition (S/B)
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No.267 of 2013 as well as W.P. (S/B.) No.4 of 2013, the

employee delinquent has preferred the present appeals.

3. We have heard the learned counsel for the respective

parties at length.

3.1 Having considered the impugned judgment and order

passed by the High Court and even the findings recorded by

the Inquiry officer it appears that the High Court has observed

that the appellant demanded a bribe from Karamjeet Singh

solely on the basis of his cross­examination. However, it is

required to be noted that he had a reason to speak against the

appellant as his loan amount was reduced from Rs.1,50,000/­

to Rs.75,000/­ by the appellant. It is the case on behalf of the

appellant that considering the material and his capacity a

decision was taken to reduce the loan amount from

Rs.1,50,000/­ to Rs.75,000/­ which was taken in the interest

of the bank. There are allegations of bias against the

Chairman right from the very beginning. Even at one point of

time the Chairman was charge­sheeted for the offences under
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Sections 323, 354, 504, 506 IPC on the complaint filed by the

wife of the appellant and on the basis of complaint filed by a

woman delegate. It is true that subsequent thereto the

criminal proceedings were quashed by the High Court. Be

that it may, there were specific allegations of bias against the

Chairman and the Bank right from the initiation of the

departmental proceedings made by the appellant.

3.2 Even looking to the charges proved in the departmental

proceedings we find that as such, there is no financial loss

caused to the Bank and on the contrary a decision was taken

by the appellant to reduce the loan amount from

Rs.1,50,000/­ to Rs.75,000/­ in the case of Karamjeet Singh

­the complainant, which can be said to be the decision in the

bank’s interest. Moreover, the fact that the appellant had

worked for 28 years and during those 28 years there are no

allegations against him, in the facts and circumstances of the

case, we are of the opinion that the punishment of removal for

the charges proved and the misconduct established, is too

harsh and disproportionate. However, considering the fact
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that it can be said to be a case of loss of confidence in the

employee by the Bank, we deem it just and proper to

substitute the punishment from that of removal of service to

that of compulsory retirement.

4. So far as the submission on behalf of the appellant that

the appellant has not conducted any misconduct and the

finding recorded by the inquiry officer on the charges proved

are perverse is concerned, the High Court is justified in

holding that in the limited jurisdiction available to the High

Court in exercise of powers under Article 226 of the

Constitution of India, the High Court is not required to

reappreciate the evidence and/or interfere with the findings

recorded by the inquiry officer accepted by the disciplinary

authority. However, as observed hereinabove the order of

removal of service can be said to be disproportionate to the

charges and misconduct held to be proved.

5. Now in so far as the dismissal of Writ Petition (S/B)

No.267 of 2013 is concerned, at the outset it is required to be
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noted that the High Court has not dealt with and considered

the same on merits independently. The High Court has

dismissed the said writ petition for promotion primarily on the

ground that once he is removed from service there is no

question of considering his case for promotion. However, it is

required to be noted that the appellant claimed the promotion

from Scale II to Scale III from the date when his juniors came

to be promoted w.e.f. 30.03.2005. From the material available

on record, it appears that in the earlier round of litigation

being Writ Petition (S/B) No.65 of 2012, the High Court had

directed the Bank to consider his case for promotion

considering his ACR for the Financial Years 1999­2000 to

2003­2004. The said exercise was required to be done by the

Bank. Therefore, so far as the Writ Petition (S/B) No.267 of

2013 is concerned, the same is required to be remanded to the

High Court to decide the same afresh in accordance with law

and on its own merits.

6. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above the

impugned Judgment and Order passed by the High Court
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passed in Writ Petition (S/B) No.4 of 2013 is hereby modified

to the extent substituting the punishment from that of

removal of service to that of compulsory retirement.

The appellant shall be entitled to all the benefits which

may be available to him by converting the punishment from

that of removal of service to that of compulsory retirement. So

far as the impugned judgment and order of the High Court in

Writ Petition (S/B) No.267 of 2013 is concerned, in view of the

above and for the reason stated above and as the High Court

has not decided the said writ petition on merits, we set aside

the impugned judgment and order as well as the order dated

08.01.2020 dismissing the said Writ Petition (S/B) No.267 of

2013 and remand the matter to the High Court to decide the

same afresh in accordance with law and on its own merits.
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Present appeals are accordingly allowed to the aforesaid

extent. However, in the facts and circumstances of the case,

there shall be no order as to costs.

………………………………….J.

                                           [M.R. SHAH]



NEW DELHI;                          ..……………………………….J.
FEBRUARY 11, 2022                        [B.V. NAGARATHNA]



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