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Punjab National Bank Vs. M.L. Bansal - (High Court of Delhi) (20 Sep 2018)

Court can substitute penalty imposed on employees, keeping in view the long period of time which had elapsed from date of imposition of penalty



The present intra Court appeal impugns the order passed by the learned Single Judge whereby while allowing the writ petition filed by the Respondent, the penalty of removal from service imposed upon the Respondent by the Appellant/Bank has been modified to that of compulsory retirement. The main plea pressed by the Appellant is that even if the learned Single Judge was of the view that, the penalty imposed on the Respondent was in any manner disproportionate, the learned Single Judge ought to have remanded the matter back to the Appellant/Bank instead of substituting the penalty imposed by the Appellant.

The entire case against the Respondent relates to an incident, where the Respondent was alleged to have failed to exercise due care while processing a single loan transaction proposal. The case against the Respondent was only of some procedural irregularities and at no stage was the Respondent charged with any misconduct relating to financial irregularities or misappropriation.

The learned Single Judge was fully conscious of the fact that, the Court should in the ordinary course remit the matter back to the Disciplinary Authority for passing a fresh order of penalty but keeping in view the time period which had already elapsed since the Respondent's removal from service and only with an aim to shorten litigation for a senior citizen who had served the Bank for almost 29 year, had taken upon him the task of modifying the penalty of removal from service to compulsory retirement. The only effect of the modified penalty in the evening of his life, would be to at least get some retiral benefits.

In Jai Bhagwan Vs. Commr. of Police & Ors. and S.R. Tewari Vs. Union of India & Anr., the Apex Court had substituted the penalty imposed on the employees, keeping in view the long period of time which had elapsed from the date of imposition of penalty.

In the light of the settled legal position and in the facts of the present case, there is absolutely no reason to defer with the course of action adopted by the learned Single Judge. The charge against the Respondent related to procedural irregularities committed by him in the year 1994 and that too when he was only part of the hierarchy of officers, which was responsible for processing the loan proposal, the learned Single Judge was justified in modifying the penalty imposed on the Respondent by taking into consideration respondent's 29 years of almost blemishless service as also the fact that the penalty order related to the year 2015, in no case can the Court interfere with the quantum of penalty. There is no merit in the present appeal.

Relevant : Jai Bhagwan Vs. Commr. of Police & Ors. MANU/SC/0671/2013 : 2013 (8) SCALE 392 and S.R. Tewari Vs. Union of India & Anr. MANU/SC/0566/2013 : 2013 (7) SCALE 417


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