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Mr.Avinash Sharad Dagaonkar v. Bank of India - (High Court of Bombay) (21 Oct 2016)

Inquiry proceedings can be closed, once an employee unconditionally admitted the charges and that admission not recorded under any duress, force or pressure



By present petition, Petitioner challenged suspension order dated 7 June 2011, order dated 14 February 2013 imposing penalty of dismissal as confirmed by Appellate Authority's order dated 16 May 2013 as also confirmed by Reviewing Authority by its order dated 22 October 2013, praying that these orders be quashed and set aside with a further prayer seeking reinstatement in service with full backwages. Appellant submitted   that,   inquiry   proceedings   are   vitiated   and consequently impugned orders are required to be quashed and set aside.

Petitioner   was   given   a   complete opportunity   to   defend   his   case   in   the   disciplinary   inquiry.   He   also appointed a defence representative.  An opportunity to cross examine all the witnesses examined on behalf of the management, was also accorded to the Petitioner.  I nquiry report clearly reveals that all charges are proved on basis of substantive evidence both documentary and oral, available on record of enquiry officer.    Investigating   Officer   was   available   to   be   cross examined by the Petitioner.  Further, copies of the documents/ statements of various borrowers recorded by the Investigating Officer were furnished to the Petitioner. The Petitioner thus was also at liberty to examine any other witness to defend his case.   Merely   because   Investigation   Report   was   not   furnished   to   Petitioner, would not cause any prejudice.  

Not only Petitioner admitted charges, albeit the charges stood substantially proved in departmental enquiry. Admittedly the Inquiry Officer did not, merely proceeded on admission of charges by Petitioner, which he could have given the clear position in law, but also recorded his findings on a full­fledged departmental enquiry and in the terms of substantial documentary and oral evidence which unequivocally demonstrated that the Petitioner had indulged into misconduct as alleged in the chargesheet and recorded that the charges against the Petitioner stood proved.  This is sufficient for the disciplinary authority in departmental proceedings to take a decision applying 'principles of preponderance and probability' and impose a punishment as permissible under Rules. 

Once an employee has admitted to charges and that there is no cogent material to show that, admission of the charges was recorded under   duress   or   force   or   pressure   and   that   admission   was unconditional and in unequivocal terms, no fault can be found in Inquiry Officer closing the inquiry proceedings. In present case, disciplinary authority on basis of inquiry report which recorded admission of 1st respondent held that, charges have been proved. There was nothing unlawful on part of the disciplinary authority proceeding on such admission made by 1st Respondent to pass order of dismissal considering seriousness of charges.    

     In a recent decision of Supreme Court in case of Surjeet Singh Bhamra Vs. Bank of India & Ors. it was held that as a matter of fact when the charges in chargesheet are admitted, there was no need for the bank to hold any inquiry into the charges and the charges having so proved on admission,  bank was justified in imposing punishment as prescribed in the Rules.   Resultantly, challenge of Petitioner failed.

Relevant : Surjeet Singh Bhamra Vs. Bank of India & Ors.


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