The Delhi High Court has held that the honesty of integrity of employees/officers working in the banks who are dealing with public money must be paramount.
A Single-judge Justice Chandra Dhari Singh remarked, “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 levelled against the petitioner are certainly serious in nature and this amounts to gross misconduct.”
The petitioner was working as an Assistant Manager in Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and was posted at Currency Verification and Processing System (CVPS) of Issue Department. The Petitioner was entrusted with processing and shredding of currencies worth Rs. 4,50,000. During a surprise check of the cancelled notes brought for shredding in the shredding room, it was noticed that there was a shortage of 50 pieces of Rs.100 denomination in three packets.
Consequently, two alternate charges being that of wilfully not performing his duties towards the bank and that of surreptitiously abstracting/pilfering the currency notes to derive pecuniary benefit and having displayed gross negligence were framed against the petitioner.
After conducting the disciplinary inquiry, the charges against the Petitioner were found to be proved and accordingly the petitioner was dismissed from the bank’s service and Rs.5000/- was ordered to be recovered from the petitioner.
The petitioner submitted that there is no evidence to support the findings on fact arrived at by the Inquiry Officer. It is further submitted that the material evidence has been completely disregarded without assigning any reasons. It is submitted that vide chargesheet dated 11th June 2005, the petitioner was charged with act of gross misconduct of pilferage and, in alternative, he was charged for negligence in his duties. The chargesheet issued to the petitioner was vague and charges framed against the petitioner were ambiguous and unspecific. The chargesheet neither disclosed material relied upon by the Bank to frame the charges nor it disclosed the list of witnesses to be produced by the Bank to prove the charges. It is submitted that the first and foremost charge of pilfering is with respect to the notes which were to be shredded and destroyed, and this was not currency in circulation, therefore, there is no loss caused to RBI and no pecuniary benefit could accrue to the petitioner.
The court held that in the banking business absolute devotion, diligence, integrity and honesty needs to be preserved by every bank employee and in particular the bank officer.
“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,” the court said.
Case title: Vijay Kumar Gupta v/s Reserve Bank of India & Ors
Citation: W.P.(C) 5453/2008 & CM APPL. 10415/2008
Date: 21 November, 2022