No penalty can be imposed upon employee without inquiry: High Court

No penalty can be imposed upon employee without inquiry: High Court
File photo of J&K High CourtMubashir Khan/ GK

Srinagar: High Court of J&K and Ladakh on Tuesday held that no penalties can be imposed upon an employee unless the charge has been communicated to him in writing and an enquiry to ascertain correctness of the charges has been conducted.

Holding Kashmir Mercantile Cooperative Bank Ltd(KMCB) as “state within meaning of Article 12, a bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar allowed a plea by an official of the Bank who had challenged an order directing his demotion.

“ An employee is entitled to have a reasonable opportunity of meeting the charges framed against him” court said.

The petitioner had challenged the order dated 01.11.2006 of KMCB whereby the Bank had directed that he shall be reverted to the post of cashier from which he was elevated to the post of Assistant Manager.

The petitioner had contended that as per the Service Rules applicable to him the Secretary of the Bank had no competence to pass the order and that no charge sheet was served upon him nor any enquiry was conducted by the against him before passing the order.

From a perusal of the charge sheet, the court said, it is clear that the charge is vague, inasmuch as it does not specify when and where the petitioner had misbehaved with the General Manager.

“From a perusal the of record, it comes to the fore that neither any enquiry officer was appointed by the respondent Bank nor any enquiry was conducted by it before issuing the show cause notice for imposing penalty against the petitioner and before imposing the penalty upon him vide the impugned order,” court said.

Referring to Service Rules applicable to the employees of the Bank, the court said: “It becomes manifest that so far as penalties of reduction to a lower category or grade, reduction in seniority and dismissal from service are concerned, such penalties cannot be imposed upon an employee unless the charge has been communicated to him in writing and an enquiry to ascertain correctness of the charges has been held,” the court said, “The employee against whom action is proposed, has been given an opportunity to produce evidence and cross-examine and seek help from any employee of the Bank to defend himself.”

In the instant case, the court said, though the charge sheet has been served upon the petitioner, yet there is nothing on record to even remotely suggest that any enquiry has been conducted by the respondents before imposing the penalty of reversion of the petitioner from the rank of Assistant Manager to the rank of Cashier-cum-Clerk.

“In the absence of holding any enquiry against the petitioner the question of granting him an opportunity to produce evidence or to cross-examine the witnesses also does not arise,” it said.

The Court said the Bank , while imposing a penalty upon the petitioner, has observed the provisions contained in Section 17.3 of the Service rules applicable to the employees of the Bank in breach.

Setting aside the order of the bank passed against the petitioner, the court held the petitioner entitled to all the benefits which will ensue to him.

The Court however said it is open to the Bank to hold an enquiry against the petitioner in accordance with the Service Rules and thereafter take an appropriate decision in accordance with law.

Greater Kashmir
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