The Supreme Court stated that the High Court is justified in holding that it is not required to reappreciate the evidence accepted by the disciplinary authority.
The appellant 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, a complaint was made against the appellant by one borrower of the Bank namely Karamjeet Singh alleging that the appellant had sanctioned the limit of loan 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.
The appellant contended that he has not conducted any misconduct and the finding recorded by the inquiry officer on the charges proved perverse.
The division bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna noted that the High Court has observed that the appellant demanded a bribe from Karamjeet Singh solely on the basis of his cross examination. However, 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.
The court stated that 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 re appreciate the evidence and/or interfere with the findings recorded by the inquiry officer accepted by the disciplinary authority.
The court modified the impugned Judgment and Order passed by the High Court passed in Writ Petition to the extent substituting the punishment from that of removal of service to that of compulsory retirement.
The court added that 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.
The court set aside the impugned judgment and order as well as the order of 2020 dismissing the Writ Petition and remanded the matter to the High Court to decide the same afresh in accordance with law and on its own merits.
Case title: Umesh Kumar Pahwa v/s The Board of Directors Uttarakhand Gramin Bank & Ors.
Citation: CIVIL APPEAL NOS.796799 OF 2022