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The Rajasthan Marudhara Gramin Bank and Ors. vs. Ramesh Chandra Meena and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (04 Jan 2022)

There is no absolute right in favour of the delinquent officer’s to be represented in the departmental proceedings through the agent of his choice

MANU/SC/0007/2022

Service

The Appellant Bank has preferred the present appeal against the impugned judgment passed by the High Court, by which, the Division Bench of the High Court has confirmed the judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge, by which, the learned Single Judge allowed the writ petition preferred by the Respondent herein (“original writ Petitioner”) and directed the Appellant Bank to allow the original writ Petitioner to be represented by a retired employee of the Bank in the departmental inquiry.

The Respondent employee / Respondent delinquent has no absolute right to avail the services by ex-¬employee of the Bank as his DR in the departmental proceedings. It is true that, Regulation 44 Rajasthan Marudhara Gramin Bank (Officers and Employees) Service Regulation, 2010 puts specific restriction on engagement of a legal practitioner and it provides that for the purpose of an enquiry under Regulation, 2010, the Officer or Employee shall not engage a legal practitioner without prior permission of the competent authority. Therefore, even availing the services of legal practitioner is permissible with the leave of the competent authority.

The objects of Regulation 44 of Regulation, 2010 and Clause 8 of the Handbook Procedure seem to be to avoid any outsider including legal representative and / or even ex-¬employee of the Bank. There is no absolute right in favour of the delinquent officer’s to be represented in the departmental proceedings through the agent of his choice and the same can be restricted by the employer.

As per settled proposition of law, the only requirement is that delinquent officer must be given fair opportunity to represent his case and that there is no absolute right in his favour to be represented through the agent of his choice. However, at the same time, if the charge is severe and complex nature, then request to be represented through a counsel can be considered keeping in mind Regulation 44 of Regulation, 2010 and if in a particular case, the same is denied, that can be ground to challenge the ultimate outcome of the departmental enquiry. However, as a matter of right in each and every case, irrespective of whether charges is severe and complex nature or not, the employee as a matter of right cannot pray that he may be permitted to represent through the agent of his choice.

The High Court has committed an error in permitting Respondent delinquent officer to be represented in the departmental enquiry through ex-employee of the Bank. The view taken by the learned Single Judge confirmed by the Division Bench is unsustainable. The impugned judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge confirmed by the Division Bench permitting the Respondent delinquent officer to be represented in the departmental proceedings through ex-employee of the Bank is quashed and set aside. Appeal allowed.

Tags : DIRECTION   REPRESENTATION   CHOICE  

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