Service Law; Manishkumar Arjanbhai Patel Vs. Saurashtra Gramin Bank [Gujarat High Court, 18-10-2016]

Constitution of India Articles 226 and 227 – Powers under – High Court may interfere if the finding is wholly arbitrary and capricious based on no evidence which no reasonable person could have ever arrived at.

Service Law – Departmental Inquiry – Delay in initiating the departmental inquiry – The delay by itself would not vitiate the departmental inquiry. This issue of delay would depend upon the facts of each case. At times, the charges may be so serious that the issue of delay would pale into insignificance.

Service Law – Departmental Inquiry – Issue of Malafide – Once the charges are held to be proved on the basis of the evidence on record, the issue of malafide, thereafter, pales into insignificance.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT AT AHMEDABAD

CORAM: HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE J.B.PARDIWALA

28/07/2016

SPECIAL CIVIL APPLICATION NO. 10226 of 1999

MANISHKUMAR ARJANBHAI PATEL….Petitioner(s)

Versus

SAURASHTRA GRAMIN BANK & 2….Respondent(s)

Appearance: MR ASHISH H SHAH, ADVOCATE for the Petitioner(s) No. 1 MR AS VAKIL, ADVOCATE for the Respondent(s) No. 1 RULE SERVED for the Respondent(s) No. 2 – 3

JUDGMENT

1. By this writ application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the writ applicant, a former Branch Manager of a Gramin Banik, has prayed for the following reliefs;

“(A) This Hon’ble Court be pleased to admit this petition.

(B) This Hon’ble Court be pleased to quash and set aside the impugned order dated 6.7.1999, Annexure-NN to this petition, rendered by the disciplinary authority i.e. Chairman.

(C) This Hon’ble Court be pleased to quash and set aside the order dated 15.10.1999 of the appellate authority as well as decision contained in their Board meeting held on 15.10.1999, which was communicated to the petitioner under forwarding letter dated 18.10.1999;

(D) This Hon’ble Court be pleased to quash and set aside the entire enquiry proceedings against the petitioner conducted pursuant to the charge-sheet issued to the petitioner;

(E) This Hon’ble Court be pleased to issue an appropriate writ, direction or order in the nature of mandamus, directing the respondent No.1 to reinstate the petitioner herein in service with full back wages and consequential benefits, as if the suspension order is not issued to the petitioner.

(F) Pending admission, hearing and final disposal of this petition, this Hon’ble Court be pleased to suspend operation, implementation and execution of the orders dated 6.7.1999 and decision dated 15.10.1999 of the appellate authority i.e. Board of directors of respondent Bank taken in their meeting held on 15.10.1999, Annexure-______ and Annexure-NN respectively annexed to this petition passed by the Chairman and appellate authority of the respondent Bank respectively;

(G) Be pleased to pass such other and further reliefs, as the nature and circumstances of the present case may require.”

2. The case of the writ applicant may be summarized as under;

2.1 The writ applicant joined the services of the respondent Bank on 1.1.1980 as a Branch Manager in the Officer Grade-I. A departmental charge sheet was issued to the writ applicant, substantially containing the following charges;

“Violating bank’s stipulated norms circular instructions, without carrying pre inspection and beyond his discretionary powers Shri M.A. Patel manager Vadatra Br. Sanctioned MTL for Rs.39800/- to Shri Karsan Manji Parmar of Bhatel on 11.6.92.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms, circular instructions, without carrying pre inspection and beyond Managers discretionary powers Shri M.A. Patel released ATL for Rs.38800/- for purchasing thresher and Rs.10000/- for ACC to Shri Suresh Mavji Parmar on 11.6.92 (ACC within his power) and 4.5.92 respectively.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms circular instructions without carrying pre-inspection, Shri M.A. Patel working as Br. Manager of Vadatara released limit for Rs.5000/- to Shri Jadeja Dilipsinh Vajesang of Vadatara on 11.6.92 for cycle store under his discretionary powers loan a/c. Is opened in MTL Ledger instead of CTL Ledger. Loan application for DL-1 on page no.1 only borrower’s name etc. is filled up no information against no.4 given page no.2 blank page no.3, 4 blank duly signed by applicant and manager Shri Patel did not submit control return to H.G. Also not submitted DL-1 to H.C.

Violating bank’s stipulated instructions, without carrying pre-inspections and without obtaining loan application and proof of residence i.e. Ration card, Shri. M.A. Patel released SBP CTL Limit for Rs.3300/- to Shri Jayesh Champaklal Pandit of Khambhalia for purchase of a cycle & cloth for doing business of cloth pert on 16.4.93.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms, circular, instructions, without carrying pre-post inspection, without receiving Loan application from sponsor Agency Shri M.A. Patel released limit for Rs.10,000/- to Shri Jagdish Govind Vadolia of Vadatra on 12.2.93.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms, circular instructions, without carrying pre-inspection, Shri M.A. Patel released ACC loan for Rs.7000/- to Shri Kurji Rama of Bhatel on 30.7.93.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms, circular instructions, without carrying pre-inspection, Shri M.A. Patel released ACC loan for Rs.7000/- to Shri Vala Kara village Bhatel on 30.7.93..

Violating bank’s stipulated norms, circular instructions, without carrying pre-inspection, Shri M.A. Patel released ACC loan for Rs.7000/- to Shri Kana Devji of Bhatel on 30.7.93.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms without carrying preinspection, without obtaining borrower’s photographs, Shri M.A. Patel released ACC for Rs.7000/- to Shri Jenti Kurji on 30.7.93. Bills for fertilizer seeds and labour work not obtained. Proper documents not obtained i.e. borrower has affixed Thumb impression on Adv.1 but C.C. 13 not obtained and thumb impression not identified.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms without carrying preinspection, without obtaining borrower’s photographs, without verifying revenue record submitted by applicant, Shri M.A. Patel released ACC for Rs.7000/- to Smt. Motiben Kurji Dalwadi of village Bhatel on 30.7.93.

Violating banks stipulated norms circular instructions, without carrying pre inspection Shri M.A. Patel released above limits of Rs.6500/- on 23.3.92 and 22.1.93 to one person Shri Dava Hira.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms, circulars instructions, without carrying pre inspection, Shri M.A. Patel Manager of Vadatara Br. released ACC for Rs. 10,000/- to Smt. Santokben Manji Parmar of Bhatel on 6.6.92.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms, circular instructions, pre-inspection, Shri M.A. Patel released ACC for Rs.10,000/- on 1.5.92 to Smt. Vijayaben Karsan Parmar of Bhatel.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms instructions without carrying pre post inspection, Shri M.A. Patel released working capital limit for Rs.9950/- to Shri Naran Lakhu beyond his discretionary powers on 5.3.93 (I) Rs.4950/- in cash (ii) 5000/- by cheque. To hide this fact he got a/c. opened in MTL ledger though no term loan was sanctioned for purchase of any machinery.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms, instructions, without carrying pre post inspecdtion, Shri. M.A. Patel released working capital limit for Rs.9500/- to Shri Rana Lakhu beyond his discretionary power on 5.5.93. (I) Rs.4950/- in cash (ii) Rs.5000/- by cheque. To hide this fact he got a/c opened in MTL ledger though no term loan was sanctioned for purchase of any machinery.

Violating bank’s norms circular instructinos, without carrying pre inspection Shri M.A. Patel has released CTL for Rs.6500/- to Shri Malde Hira Harijan of Hanjdapar on 23.3.92.

Violating bank’s stipulated norms, circular instructions, without carrying pre inspection, post inspection, without receiving loan application from sponsor Agency or without obtaining loan application from borrower in case of direct Finance, Shri M.A. Patel released loan for Rs.4000/- Smt. Jaliben Soma on 19.3.93 without obtaining documents also, Account has been opened in SBF MTL Ledger duly signed by Shri M.A. Patel.

Due to Shri M.A. Patel’s gross misconduct by virtue of misbehaviour with the officer in charge audit cell and two autitors, i.e., Staff members of H.O they felt a scene of horror and were stunned on account of horror created by Shri Patel. Shri Patel also failed to maintain proper due diligence and dignity of supervising staff of H.O. Shri Patel displayed gross negligence by using abusive and unparliamentary words expressed by him angriness in bank premises during public hours are as under;

While handling, maintaining, supervising control over bank’s advances and deposit portfolio, during his tenure as manager at Vadatara Branch, Shri M.A. Patel committed serious misconduct and allowed serious defficiencies in granting overdraft to SB a/c. No.240 of Jilla Vikas Gram Agency. Jamkhambhalia, during the period from 6.6.92 to 11.6.93, maximum to the tune of Rs.72331 ps. Though no powers are vested to branch manager to grant overdraft Shri Patel did not report this overdraft to H.O. Shri Patel also did not sign against posting entries in the ledger. Debit voucher are passed by Shri Patel in respect of subsidy granted to IRDP beneficiaries. Though there was no sufficient balance in the a/c. To pass debit vouchers. Main cash book is signed by Shri Patel.

While handling , maintaining, supervising control over bank’s advances nd deposit portfolio, several important registers introduced by Bank for smooth running and keep control over branch work. But Shri M.A. Patel committed serious misconduct and allowed serious deficiency by discontinuing Manager’s and Cashier’s key register and other important register during his tenure, as branch manager of Vadatra Br.”

2.2 To the aforesaid charge-sheet, a detailed reply was filed by the writ applicant denying all the charges.

2.3 An Inquiry Officer was appointed for the conduct of the departmental inquiry.

2.4 At the end of the departmental inquiry, the Inquiry Officer reached to the conclusion that all the charges were established.

2.5 A show-cause notice was issued thereafter by the Disciplinary Authority calling upon the writ applicant to show- cause as regards the findings recorded by the Inquiry Officer and the proposed penalty.

2.6 The Disciplinary Authority, i.e., the Chairman, Jamnagar Rajkot Gramin Bank, Head Office, Jamnagar, vide order dated 6th July, 1999, passed an order removing the writ applicant from the service. The order reads thus;