The Delhi High Court has refused to interfere with the disciplinary proceedings initiated against an RBI official for "helping" a member of Parliament draft a private bill on a subject on which a bill was being prepared by the bank itself.

Dismissing a petition filed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) official, Justice Rekha Palli observed the petitioner came to the court at a "premature stage, when the inquiry has just commenced," and the court should generally not interdict the departmental proceedings unless it is a case of gross perversity or high-handedness.

Advocates Siddharth and Amit Kumar Agrawal appeared for the petitioner while Advocate Ramesh Babu MR appeared for the RBI.

The judge observed that "the less said, the better at this stage" as it was the petitioner's own case that he had assisted the MP in drafting the private bill.

"In my considered view, it would not be appropriate for this court to examine this aspect at this premature stage lest prejudice is caused to the petitioner in the inquiry proceedings. I, therefore, do not see any reason to interfere with the impugned chargesheet or the departmental proceedings at this stage. The writ petition, being meritless, is dismissed," the Court said in its recent order.

"In the present case, in the light of the petitioner's own case before this court that he had assisted respondent no.5 (MP) in drafting the private Bill, on the aspect on which the petitioner's employer i.e. respondent or bank itself was drafting a Bill, the less said, the better at this stage," it added.

The Court, however, clarified that the dismissal of the petition would not preclude the petitioner, who is working as a director in the RBI, from raising his defence before the inquiry officer or before a competent court after a final order is passed in the departmental proceedings.

The Public Credit Registry Division of the RBI had, in 2019, contemplated to table a bill on the public credit registry and the official concerned of the division had shared certain information regarding the same with the petitioner.

In 2020, the RBI noticed similarities between the MP's private member bill and its own bill on public credit registry and action was initiated against the petitioner.

In August 2021, a memorandum was issued to the petitioner by the RBI for committing "misconduct and indiscipline by violating the provisions of the Reserve Bank of India (Staff) Regulations, 1948" and subsequently, a chargesheet issued.

The petitioner submitted to the court that since he had only shared information that was available in the public domain, no charge against him was made out and merely because he had engaged in discussions and helped the MP draft the private bill to be tabled in Parliament, it would not tantamount to a disclosure of confidential information related to the functioning of the bank.

The RBI opposed the petition and said the petitioner's admission that he had helped the MP draft a private bill to be presented in Parliament on a subject on which a bill was being prepared by the bank itself shows that his actions were detrimental to the interests of the bank.

Cause Title: Saket Kumar Sharma v. Reserve Bank of India & Ors.

Click here to read/download Judgment

With PTI inputs