United Bank Of India vs Bachan Prasad Lal on 11 February, 2022


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Supreme Court of India

United Bank Of India vs Bachan Prasad Lal on 11 February, 2022

Author: Ajay Rastogi

Bench: Ajay Rastogi, Abhay S. Oka

                                                                  NON­REPORTABLE

                                   IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                   CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                   CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 2949 OF 2011


          UNITED BANK OF INDIA                                   …..APPELLANT(S)


                                   VERSUS


          BACHAN PRASAD LALL                                     ….RESPONDENT(S)


                                             JUDGMENT

Rastogi, J.

1. The appellant, being dissatisfied with the judgment of the

Division Bench of the High Court dated 11th May, 2010, has

preferred the present appeal.

2. The facts relevant for the purpose culled out from the record

are that the respondent employee joined service as a Clerk­cum­
Signature Not Verified

Typist in the year 1973 and while in service committed serious
Digitally signed by
Rajni Mukhi
Date: 2022.02.11
17:12:26 IST
Reason:

irregularities in discharge of his duties, was placed under

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suspension by an Order dated 7 th August, 1995. He was later served

with the charge­sheet along with the statement of allegation on 2 nd

March 1996. After the disciplinary inquiry was conducted in

accordance with the disciplinary rules of the Bank, the inquiry

officer found the charges proved. In consequence thereof, the

respondent was dismissed from service by an Order dated 6 th

December, 2000 and the appellate authority also rejected the

appeal preferred by the respondent employee by an Order dated 24 th

April, 2004.

3. The reference was made for adjudication by the appropriate

Government in exercise of its powers under clause(d) of sub­

Section(1) and sub­Section (2A) of Section 10 of the Industrial

Disputes Act, 1947(hereinafter being referred to as the “Act 1947”)

vide Order dated 27th July, 2005. The same is as under:­

“Whether the action of the management of United Bank of India,
Patna in awarding the punishment of dismissal to Shri Bachan
Prasad Lal, clerk­cum­typist of Katihar Branch of UBI for alleged
involvement of fraud is legal and justified? If not, to what relief
Shri Bachan Prasad Lal is entitled?”

4. The learned Tribunal, after taking into consideration the

record of the domestic inquiry, finally arrived to the conclusion that

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inquiry was fair and proper and the charges stood proved but while

exercising power under Section 11A of the Act 1947, the Tribunal

under its Award dated 30th December, 2005 observed that the

punishment awarded to the respondent employee of dismissal is not

commensurate with the charge levelled against him and accordingly

while upholding the allegations levelled against the respondent in

reference to which the inquiry was conducted, substituted the

punishment of dismissal with an order of reinstatement after

lowering down of two stages in his basic salary that he was getting

at the time of his dismissal. It was also held that there will be no

payment of salary and allowances for the period of his suspension­

save and except payment of subsistence allowance.

5. On a writ petition being preferred by the appellant in assailing

the interference made by the Tribunal in exercise of its power under

Section 11A of the Act 1947, the learned Single Judge by an Order

dated 25th July, 2006, dismissed the petition holding that the

Tribunal has a discretion under Section 11A of the Act 1947 and

held that it has rightly been exercised which further came to be

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challenged at the instance of the appellant in Letters Patent Appeal

before the Division Bench of the High Court.

6. The Division Bench has upheld the finding returned by the

Tribunal and confirmed by the learned Single Judge under the

order impugned which has been categorically referred to in para 3

of the Order. However, the Division Bench was not inclined to

interfere despite the fact that the respondent was found guilty after

regular inquiry been held for misappropriation of funds and further

observed that there should not be any compassion in the judicial

proceedings which should be shown to the delinquent who commits

such nature of fraud in discharge of his duties but still refused to

interfere with the Order of the Tribunal for the reason that the

respondent employee by that time had retired on attaining the age

of superannuation in 2007. The relevant para is as under:­

“3. It appears to us that the Tribunal agreed with the finding of
fact recorded by the learned Inquiry Officer that had found him
guilty of misappropriation of funds. However, the learned Tribunal
also observed that it was perhaps a case of bona fide error leading
to alteration in the punishment. We feel that the learned Tribunal
was not justified in disagreeing with the finding of fact recorded by
the learned Inquiry Officer. It does not appear to us to be a case of
bona fide error, but was really a case of well though­out plan to
divert funds from other accounts to a fictitious account opened by

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him. In such a situation, reduction in punishment also becomes a
case of uncalled for interference. The learned Tribunal also seems
to have given weightage to the domestic situation in the employee’s
family, which we once again feel to be a wholly unjustified ground
to dilute the guilt of the employee. Law is well settled that needless
compassion should not be injected into judicial proceedings. We do
not agree with the order of the learned Tribunal nor that of the
learned Writ Court. However, we would have interfered with the
order of the learned Tribunal but we refrain from doing so because
the employee has already reached the age of superannuation way
back in the year 2007.”
(emphasis supplied)

7. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and also

perused the material available on record.

8. The respondent employee was served with the charge­sheet

dated 2nd March, 1996 with the following allegations:­

“1. The charge sheet dated 2.3.96 against Sri B.P. Lal reads as
follows:

(a) Sri Bachan Prasad Lal was posted as Typist­cum­Clerk in
Katihar Branch from 4.12.90 to 1.7.95. During this tenure he
also worked as Temporary Special Assistant & Teller Clerk.

(b) During this tenure, on different dates, he prepared nine
fraudulent credit transfer vouchers aggregating Rs.53,465/­
without giving full details/description of F/D A/cs numbers in
five vouchers and in the rest mentioning A/c no. of different
F/D account holders on the pretext of payment of interest
towards fixed deposit account and got the full amount credited
in S/B A/c No.8762 in the name of Smt. Asha Devi.

(c) It is revealed that no F/D A/c in the name of Asha Devi could
be traced on the basis of available branch records/documents.
In case of Transfer Credit Vouchers bearing F/D A/c No.
persons other than Smt. Asha Devi no such mandate for credit

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of monthly interest was given by the respective account holders
hence preparation of vouchers were unwarranted.

(d) It is further revealed that he had irregularly opened the S.B. a/c
No.8762 in the name of Smt. Asha Devi who is not … illegible …

(e) He is a Special Assistant released/ called the credit vouchers
posted by the Ledger keener to the credit of S.B. a/c no. 8762
with but ensuring that many of such transfer credit vouchers
were not signed by the other Officials as second signatory.

(f) The amount so credited in the S.B/ a/c no. 8762 were
subsequently withdrawn by withdrawal slips on various dates.
The draws signatures as appearing on the above with drawal
slips as well as on the back of there slips were forged by him
and the said signatures on the withdrawal slips were verified by
him and also passed for payment by him.

(g) Moreover, he received payment of the withdrawal slips forging
the signatures of the drawer on the back of the withdrawal slips
of dated 9.1.93 for Rs. 5, 100/­, 25.8.94 for Rs. 10,000/­,
3.9.94 for Rs. 9,000/­ 16.9.96. for Rs.10,000/­ & 27.1.95 for
Rs. 5,000/­

(h) In order to accommodate amount of the above fraudulent credit
entries he altered/adjusted & debit and credit entries in the
transfer journal as well as amount of corresponding debit
vouchers on 19.12.90, 20.12.90, 14.1.91 & 11.7.91 without any
authentication. He also did not mention the journal number on
the vouchers.

Thus, by his aforesaid acts he perpetrated fraudulent mis­
appropriation of Rs. 53,465/­ and thereby causing financial loss to
the Bank.”

9. The nature of allegation against the respondent employee was

of fraudulently preparing nine credit transfer vouchers on various

dates on the pretext of payment of interest towards fixed deposits

and crediting the whole amount to one saving account opened in

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the name of one Smt. Asha Devi (admittedly the fake account

prepared by respondent employee). In order to adjust the said

amount, he manipulated the other book records of the Bank using

forged signatures. After such nature of allegations stood proved,

the disciplinary authority, after taking into consideration the record

of inquiry and the post held by the respondent employee, punished

him with the penalty of dismissal from service.

10. The finding of guilt recorded by the inquiry officer in his report

was confirmed at all later stages by the disciplinary/appellate

authority and even after judicial scrutiny by the Division Bench in

the impugned judgment but still refrained from interference on the

premise that the employee had superannuated in the year 2007.

11. In our considered view, looking into seriousness of the nature

of allegations levelled against the respondent employee, the

punishment of dismissal inflicted upon him in no manner could be

said to be shockingly disproportionate which would have required

to be interfered with by the Tribunal in exercise of its power under

Section 11A of the Act 1947. At the same time, merely because the

employee stood superannuated in the meanwhile, will not absolve

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him from the misconduct which he had committed in discharge of

his duties and looking into the nature of misconduct which he had

committed, he was not entitled for any indulgence. The Bank

employee always holds the position of trust where honesty and

integrity are the sine qua non but it would never be advisable to

deal with such matters leniently.

12. Consequently, the appeal succeeds and is allowed. The

interference made by the Tribunal and the High Court in the

impugned judgment is hereby set aside. No costs.

13. Pending application(s), if any, stand disposed of.

……………………….J.

(AJAY RASTOGI)

……………………….J.

(ABHAY S. OKA)

NEW DELHI
FEBRUARY 11, 2022

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