Integrity Of Bank Employees Is Paramount: Delhi HC In A Petition Challenging Dismissal Of Man From Service By RBI
The Delhi High Court at New Delhi dismissed the petition filed against the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) by a bank employee who was alleged to have been involved in the shortage of notes amounting to Rs. 5000/- when he was doing the work of shredding currency notes.
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh while accepting the RBI's decision of dismissing the employee from service stated –
"As goes the popular saying – "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion". It is settled law that honesty of integrity of employees/officers working in the banks who are dealing with public money must be paramount. The allegations which have been leveled against the petitioner are certainly serious in nature and this amount to gross misconduct. Therefore, I do not find any force in the argument of the petitioner that the punishment which has been awarded to the petitioner for removing from service is not proportionate."
It was argued by the petitioner that there is a violation of Regulation 34 read with Regulation 47(1) of the Reserve Bank of India (Staff) Regulations, 1948.
The Court further held that "this Court does not find that there has been any procedural infraction or violation of Principles of Natural Justice in conducting the inquiry against the petitioner. … there is sufficient material on record to establish the guilt of the petitioner. … The petitioner has failed to establish a case warranting interference in the impugned order."
The question before the Court was whether the entire disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner is based on no evidence.
Advocate Pooja M. Saigal represented the petitioner i.e., the bank employee.
Senior Advocate Suhail Dutt appeared on behalf of the respondent i.e., the Reserve Bank of India.
In the present case, the petitioner was working as an Assistant Manager at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and was posted at the Currency Verification and Processing System (CVPS) of the Issue Department. He was entrusted with the processing and shredding of currencies worth Rs. 4,50,000/- and during a surprise check, it was found that there was a shortage of 50 pieces of Rs. 100/- notes i.e., Rs. 5,000/-. Hence, the petitioner was charged of non-performance of duties towards the bank, gross negligence, and deriving pecuniary benefit. After the disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner, he was found guilty and got dismissed from the bank's service. Also, Rs. 5,000/- was ordered to be recovered from the petitioner.
Thereafter, the appeal got dismissed by the Appellate Authority, and therefore, the petitioner being aggrieved with the same filed a writ petition before the High Court.
The counsel of the petitioner submitted before the High Court that there is no evidence to support the facts arrived at by the Inquiry Officer and that the material evidence has been completely disregarded without assigning any reasons.
On the other hand, the senior counsel appearing for the respondent contended that by the way if filing the instant writ petition, the petitioner is seeking interference of the Court for re-appreciation of evidence which as per law is impermissible under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India.
The Court while disagreeing with the contentions of the petitioner observed –
"After examining the impugned order as well as the material on record, I do not agree with the arguments/submissions made by learned counsel for the petitioner that the departmental proceeding has been proceeded and concluded contrary to the principles of Departmental Inquiry. It is clearly established that these charges were duly proven and the petitioner was rightly held guilty by the competent authority. The Appellate Authority while rejecting the appeal of the petitioner herein has passed a detailed and reasoned order after considering all the material and evidence on record before it. Hence, there is no illegality or error on the appellate order."
It was also argued by the respondent that among other cogent evidence, there is clear CCTV footage showing the petitioner taking out some notes from packets, wrapping them in a piece of paper, putting the notes in a register, and taking that register out with him and upon return, the said register was not with the petitioner.
The main argument of the petitioner was that the present case is a case of no evidence and that the petitioner was held guilty by the Inquiry Officer without following due process of law.
The Court however noted that "A bank employee/officer must perform one's duty with absolute devotion, diligence, integrity and honesty, so that the confidence of the public/depositors is not lost in the bank. The banking system is the backbone of the Indian economy. An officer who is found to have been involved in financial irregularities while performing his duty as bank officer, cannot be let off even if there is a minor infraction in the inquiry report."
Accordingly, the Court dismissed the petition.
Cause Title – Vijay Kumar Gupta v. Reserve Bank of India & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2022/DHC/005031)