Ori HC | Writ Court is not competent to appreciate the evidence and findings by the Disciplinary/ Enquiry Authority

Orissa High Court: Biswanath Rath, J. dismissed the writ petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India seeking the quashing of the order whereby the petitioner herein was punished for discharging his duty dishonestly and also sought reinstatement of the petitioner in his service with all the consequential benefits.

In the instant case, the petitioner who was the Branch Manager in State Bank of Hyderabad GCP, Bhubaneswar Branch was handed a charge memo with allegations of his failure of discharging his duty with good faith. Further, an enquiry officer was appointed by the Disciplinary Authority (General Manager) to look into the matter. Subsequently, the petitioner denied the aforesaid allegations and finding it to be against natural justice filed the present writ petition.

B. Tripathy, the counsel for the petitioner, pleaded that the enquiry report thereafter provided without informing the petitioner suffered on account of non-supply of document applied for. It did not provide the opportunity of examination of the witnesses of the petitioner and of himself. There was no opportunity to show cause before the imposition of punishment of penalty of compulsory retirement. Appeal was not considered on the grounds raised. Further, the procedure followed by the enquiry officer was also unknown to law. Moreover, the General Manager had no authority to impose punishment merely on the basis of the above-said report and thus the counsel requested for the impugned order of punishment to be nullified to restore the petitioner’s original position.

However, the counsel for the respondent, S. P. Das contended that the petitioner was given the first chargesheet after finding a series of irregularities in his work examined by the Assistant general manager himself. He was also asked to file a show cause thereof. He was given a reasonable time of fifteen days and also an extension of another fifteen days on request. But finding his response unsatisfactory, order for the departmental enquiry was made. Also, the petitioner was given sufficient time to verify his records in the branch office so his claim of non-supply of documents was also false. Further, the benefit of the doubt given by the CBI(Central Bureau of Investigation) Court to the petitioner did not have any bearing on the enquiry. In the context of presenting witnesses, the petitioner himself denied to present any. Further as far as imposition of punishment was concerned, at no occasion, the management made such declaration. So all the allegations made on part of the petitioner thereby fail.

In view thereof, the Court found that the impugned order was not passed by an incompetent officer as has been alleged by the petitioner. It also found that the petitioner was given a reasonable time to get his documents verified. It opined that only after the unsatisfactory reply of the petitioner, the enquiry was initiated. It took into cognizance that there was no complain made by the petitioner during the enquiry to present his witnesses. It made it clear that the petitioner had to get a clean-chit not just in CBI enquiry but also in the departmental proceedings. Therefore holding that there is no merit in this present writ petition brought up by the petitioner, the Court dismissed it. [Bansidhar Senapati v. SBI, 2020 SCC OnLine Ori 10, decided on 17-01-2020]

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