State Bank of India & Anr. vs K.S. Vishwanath Case

State Bank of India & Anr. vs K.S. Vishwanath  Case

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3490 OF 2022
State Bank of India & Anr.               ...Appellants
Versus
K.S. Vishwanath        ...Respondent
J U D G M E N T 
M. R. Shah, J.
1. Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
judgment and order dated 16.03.2021 passed by the High
Court of Karnataka at Bengaluru in Writ Appeal No.4220 of
2011 by which the High Court has dismissed the said Writ
Appeal No.4220 of 2011 preferred by the appellant – employer
– SBI and has confirmed the judgment and order passed by
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the learned Single Judge setting aside the order of dismissal
passed by the Disciplinary Authority and directing the Bank
to pay to the delinquent officer consequential benefits without
back wages, the appellant ­ SBI – employer has preferred the
present appeal.
2. The facts leading to the present appeal in nutshell are as
under:
That the respondent herein ­ the delinquent officer was
working as a Deputy Manager (Cash) at SSI Peenya II Stage
Branch   of   the   SBI   Bank   at   Bangalore   from   14.03.1996
onwards.  That there was a requirement of Rs.10 lakhs which
was required to be collected from Peenya Industrial Estate
Branch of the Bank.   That on the basis of one forged letter
dated 06.08.1996, the delinquent officer withdrew Rs.10 lakhs
fraudulently.   The delinquent officer produced a false letter
dated   06.08.1996   at   Peenya   Industrial   Estate   Branch   and
withdrew   the   aforesaid   amount   of   Rs.10   lakhs   which
remained unaccounted at the SSI Branch.   The letter dated
06.08.1996 was purported to have been signed by one A.R.
Balasubramanian, the AGM of the SSI Branch.  He denied his
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signature found on the letter dated 06.08.1996.  Subsequently
on tallying the account it was found that Rs.10 lakhs was
withdrawn from Peenya Industrial Estate Branch which was
to be deposited at SSI Branch had not been accounted for and
the said amount had not been deposited with the SSI Branch.
Thereafter the local Head Officer submitted a complaint to the
CBI on 10.11.1998, based on which the FIR was registered.
The   aforesaid   FIR   was   registered   after   the   preliminary
investigation was held on 18.09.1998.  It was found that the
fraud has been committed by the insider, who was well aware
of   the   procedure   for   cash   remittance   as   well   as   with   the
signature   of   the   Branch   Manager   of   SSI   Branch.     The
respondent – delinquent officer was placed under suspension.
Thereafter a departmental enquiry was initiated against the
delinquent officer and he was charged with the charge­sheet
as under:
“(i)  On 6th August, 1996, you got prepared a
set   of   fraudulent   cash   remittance
documented and by producing the same at
Peenya Industrial Estate Branch, Bangalore
made the officials threat believe them to be
genuine and part with Rs.10 Lacs as cash
remittance to SSI Peenya II stage Branch and
you failed to account for the same in the
books of SSI Peenya II Stage Branch.
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(ii)  You have made substantial investments
in   Kisan   Vikas   Patra   and   Special   Term
Deposits with SBI Staff Co­operative Credit
Society,   Bangalore   during   the   period
23.09.1998 to 08.06.1988 and you failed to
make proper disclosures of the same in the
Assets & Liabilities Statements submitted by
you.
Your act stated at (i) above has resulted in
the Bank incurring an undue loss of Rs.10
Lacs.”
2.1 Before   the   Enquiry   Officer,   41   documents   and   9
witnesses were produced by the management to prove the
charges.     After   considering   the   statements/depositions   of
management   witnesses   PW1   to   PW7   the   Enquiry   Officer
submitted   his   report   holding   charge   no.1   as   proved   and
charge   no.2   as   partly   proved.     The   Appointing   Authority
agreed with the findings of the Enquiry Officer and imposed
the   penalty   of   dismissal   from   services   which   came   to   be
confirmed by the Appellate Authority.
2.2 Thereafter the respondent – delinquent officer filed a writ
petition before the learned Single Judge of the High Court.  By
the   time   the   writ   petition   came   to   be   disposed   of,   the
respondent   –   delinquent   officer   attained   the   age   of
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superannuation.   By judgment and order dated 22.03.2011
the learned Single Judge set aside the order of punishment
and directed the Bank to give all the consequential benefits to
the   original   writ   petitioners   except   back   wages   as   in   the
meantime he attained the age of superannuation. 
2.3 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and
order passed by the learned Single Judge setting aside the
order of punishment imposed by the appointing authority, the
Bank filed the present Writ Appeal No.4220 of 2011 before the
Division Bench of the High Court.   The delinquent officer also
filed Writ Appeal No.4599 of 2011 against the denial of back
wages.  Both the writ appeals came to be heard, decided and
disposed of by a common impugned judgment and order.  By
the   common   impugned   judgment   and   order   the   Division
Bench of the High Court has dismissed both the appeals, one
preferred   by   the   appellant   –   management   and   another
preferred by the delinquent officer.
2.4 Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
judgment and order passed by the Division Bench of the High
Court in dismissing the Writ Appeal No.4220 of 2011 and
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confirming the judgment and order passed by the learned
Single Judge setting aside the punishment imposed by the
appointing authority, the Bank – employer has preferred the
present appeal.
3. Shri Sanjay Kapoor, learned counsel appearing on behalf
of the Bank has vehemently submitted that in the facts and
circumstances of the case, both, the learned Single Judge as
well as the Division Bench have materially erred in interfering
with the findings recorded by the Enquiry Officer which were
on appreciation of evidence on record, both documentary as
well as oral.
3.1 It is submitted that during the enquiry the Management
examined   in   all   9   witnesses   and   produced   on   record   41
documents   to   prove   the   charges.     That   the   management
witnesses were primarily employees of the Bank who were also
cross­examined during the course of enquiry.  It is submitted
that in the present case PW2 and PW3, the Cash Officer and
the Accountant confirmed the practice adopted by the Branch
seeking remittance, as also the fact that the respondent on
the relevant date had come with one more person whom he
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introduced as the Cashier of the Branch.  By examining the
aforesaid   witnesses,   the   management   has   established   and
proved that voucher and remittance/cash was given to the
respondent inside the vault.
3.1.1  It is submitted that by examining the witness namely,
the Branch Manager ­ PW4, the management has proved that
the Branch Manager whose alleged signature was found on
the alleged letter was in fact not of his and that he confirmed
that   the   letter   allegedly   bearing   his   signature   seeking
remittance of Rs.10 lakhs was not signed by him at all.  He
explained   the   normal   practice   during   the   course   of   his
evidence.
3.1.2  It is submitted that PW5 and PW6 confirmed that it was
the   respondent   –   delinquent   officer   who   had   come   to   the
Branch with another person with cash remittance and he was
a witness to the said incident.
3.1.3  It is further submitted by Shri Kapoor, learned counsel
appearing for the Branch Manager that even the management
has been successful in establishing and proving that it was
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respondent   –   delinquent   officer   who   got   prepared   the
fraudulent   letter.     Further,   PW7   ­   proprietor   of   the   photo
stating shop confirmed that it was the respondent who had
come for typing the fraudulent letter and she got typed the
same in her shop.  It is submitted that she also identified the
respondent in the enquiry.
3.2 It is contended by learned counsel appearing on behalf of
the   appellant   –   Bank   that   despite   the   aforesaid   clinching
evidence placed on record the High Court has erred in holding
that the bank has not been able to prove the complicity of the
respondent   in   the   alleged   offence.     It   is   urged   that   while
setting   aside   the   order   of   punishment   the   learned   Single
Judge   acted   beyond   the   scope   and   ambit   of   the   writ
jurisdiction and the power of the judicial review conferred on a
constitutional court.
3.3 Relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of
State of  Karnataka vs. N.  Ganga Raj  reported in  (2020)  3
SCC  423, it is submitted by Shri Kapoor, learned counsel
appearing on behalf of the appellant – Bank that in the said
decision   this   Court   observed   and   held   that   the   power   of
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Judicial Review conferred on a constitutional court is not that
of an appellate authority but is confined only to the decisionmaking process.  It is submitted that as held, under Articles
226/227 of the Constitution of India, the High Court shall not
reappreciate the evidence, interfering with the conclusions in
the enquiry, go into the adequacy or reliability of the evidence
or correct the error of fact however grave it may be.
3.4 It is contended that the High Court has committed a
grave error in interfering with the findings recorded by the
Enquiry Officer and setting aside the order of punishment
imposed by the appointing authority.
4. While   opposing   the   present   appeal   learned   counsel
appearing on behalf of the respondent – delinquent officer has
made the following submissions:
(i) That the respondent herein had an unblemished
record from his joining as a clerk till the date of
alleged incident in his career of long 28 years
and had even got two promotions;
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(ii) That   the   entire   amount   of   Rs.10   lakhs   was
allegedly paid to one Shri M.N. Kiran and not to
the respondent – delinquent officer;
(iii) Initially   the   Local   Head   Officer   of   the   Branch
directed   one   Shri   M.R.   Srinath,   AGM   to
investigate the matter.  Shri Srinath investigated
the   matter   and   found   that   there   was   no
involvement of any officer from the SSI Peenya II
Branch and completely absolved the delinquent
officer.  It is submitted that it was observed that
the style of the letter requesting the remittance
resembles   the   usual   style   adopted   by   the
delinquent officer.  That it is observed that that
none of the documents at the SSI Peenya Branch
was tampered with which is indicative of noninvolvement of staff of the SSI Peenya Branch;
(iv) That in the criminal proceedings investigated by
the   CBI,   the   delinquent   officer   has   been
acquitted by the competent criminal court.  That
the   learned   Single   Judge   specifically   observed
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and held that the enquiry was vitiated due to the
violation of principles of natural justice;
(v) The enquiry officer held the respondent guilty on
mere surmises and conjectures.  
(vi) The   enquiry   officer   erred   in   relying   on   the
deposition   of   PW7,   who   claimed   to   be   the
manager of the photocopying shop;
(vii) That   the   manager   failed   to   prove   that
document/letter dated 06.08.1996 was prepared
by the respondent ­ delinquent officer. 
(viii) Therefore, once the preparation of document was
itself doubtful from the evidence of PW7 there is
no question of forging the signatures on the said
documents by the respondent;
(ix) That therefore, the entire allegation is made on
falsehood   which   has   not   been   proved   by   any
evidence.
4.1 Relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of
Nand Kishore Prasad vs. State of Bihar & Others, AIR 1978
SC   1277,   it   is   submitted   that   as   held   by   this   Court   the
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domestic tribunals are quasi­judicial in character.  Therefore,
the minimum requirement of the rules of natural justice is
that the Tribunal should arrive at its conclusion on the basis
of some evidence i.e. cogent material which with some degree
of definiteness points to the guilt of the delinquent in respect
of charges against him.
4.2 Relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of
Rajinder Kumar Kindra vs. Delhi Administration, (1984) 4
SCC 635, it is submitted that a quasi­judicial tribunal which
records findings based on no legal evidence, then the findings
are either ipse­dixit or based on conjectures and surmises.
The   enquiry   suffers   from   the   additional   infirmity   of   nonapplication of mind and stands vitiated.
4.3 On   judicial   review,   it   is   submitted   that   if   there   is
procedural   violation   and   violation   of   principles   of   natural
justice,   the   courts   are   justified   to   set   aside   such
administrative action and in many a case may possibly direct
a denovo enquiry.  It is submitted that however, in the present
case   the   delinquent   officer   has   attained   the   age   of
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superannuation,   he   cannot   be   burdened   with   the   fresh
enquiry   and   the   courts   have   to   set   aside   the   said
administrative action itself.  It is submitted that therefore as
such the respondent was required to be reinstated with full
back wages.  That instead the High Court has denied the back
wages to the respondent – delinquent officer.  Therefore, the
impugned judgment and orders passed by the High Court are
not required to be interfered with by this Court in exercise of
powers   conferred   under   Article   136   of   the   Constitution   of
India.
Making the above submissions, it is prayed to dismiss
the present appeal.
5. In rejoinder learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
appellant – Bank has pointed out that in view of the judgment
and order passed by the learned Single Judge confirmed by
the Division Bench, the respondent – delinquent officer would
get Rs.25.61 lakhs towards terminal benefits and arrears of
pension etc. and thereafter Rs.20,502/­ per month towards
pension,   which   would   amount   to   granting   premium   to
dishonesty. 
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6. We have heard learned counsel for the parties at length.
7. At   the   outset,  it   is  required  to  be  noted  that   in  the
departmental enquiry against the delinquent officer by the
disciplinary authority it was alleged that he got prepared a set
of fraudulent cash remittance document and by producing the
same at Peenya Industrial Estate Branch, Bangalore made the
officials believe them to be genuine and part with Rs.10 Lacs
as cash remittance to SSI Peenya II Stage Branch and after
receiving the same cash he failed to account for the same in
the   books   of   SSI   Peenya   II   Stage   Branch.     To   prove   the
aforesaid   charge   the   management   as   such   examined   9
witnesses and produced 41 documents.  The aforesaid charge
has   been   held   to   be   proved   by   the   Enquiry   Officer   on
appreciation of the entire evidence on record including the
deposition of the management witnesses examined as PW1 to
PW7.   On considering the enquiry report and the findings
recorded   by   the   Enquiry   Officer   it   appears   that   the
management   has   been   able   to   establish   and   prove   the
complicity of the delinquent officer and has been successful in
proving that;
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(i) The delinquent officer prepared the fraudulent
letter dated 06.08.1996 (by examining PW7) who
at the letter requesting for remittance resembles
the style/writing of the delinquent officer (PW1);
(ii) It was the respondent – delinquent officer who
had   come   with   one   more   person   whom   he
introduced as a new cashier and the delinquent
officer   submitted   the   voucher   and   that   the
remittance/cash   was   given   to   him   inside   the
vault (by examining PW2 and PW3);
(iii) The Branch Manager confirmed that the letter
allegedly   bearing   his   signature   seeking
remittance of Rs.10 lakhs was not signed by him
(PW4);
(iv) And   that   it   was   the   respondent   –   delinquent
officer   who   went   to   the   Branch   with   another
person for cash remittance and that the cash
remittance   was   paid   to   the   respondent   –
delinquent officer.  
The aforesaid findings recorded by the Enquiry Officer
were   on   the   appreciation   of   evidence   on   record,   both
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documentary as well as oral.   Despite the above, the High
Court has observed and held that the management had failed
to prove the complicity of the delinquent officer in the alleged
offence. 
7.1 From the aforesaid, it can be seen that the management
has been able to prove the complete chain of events which led
to   the   conclusion   that   it   was   the   delinquent   officer   who
prepared the false letter dated 06.08.1996; he went to the
Branch for withdrawing the cash along with the fraudulent
letter; that it was he who took the cash/remittance of Rs.10
lakhs and thereafter the said amount was not deposited with
the SSI Peenya II Stage Branch.
Then,   what   else   was   required   to   be   established   and
proved by the Management  to prove the complicity of the
delinquent officer?
7.2 From the impugned judgment and order passed by the
High Court it appears that the High Court has dealt with and
considered the writ petition under Articles 226/227 of the
Constitution   of   India   challenging   the   decision   of   the
Bank/Management dismissing the delinquent officer as if the
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High   Court   was   exercising   the   powers   of   the   Appellate
Authority.     The   High   Court   in   exercise   of   powers   under
Articles   226/227   of   the   Constitution   of   India   has
reappreciated the evidence on record which otherwise is not
permissible as held by this Court in a catena of decisions.
7.3 Recently in the case of  Nand  Kishore  Prasad   (Supra)
after   considering   other   decisions   of   this   Court   on   judicial
review and the power of the High Court in a departmental
enquiry and interference with the findings recorded in the
departmental enquiry, it is observed and held that the High
Court   is  not   a   court   of   appeal   over   the   decision   of   the
authorities holding a departmental enquiry against a public
servant. It is further observed and held that the High Court is
concerned to determine whether the enquiry is held by an
authority   competent   in   that   behalf,   and   according   to   the
procedure prescribed in that behalf, and whether the rules of
natural justice are not violated. It is further observed that if
there is some evidence, that the authority entrusted with the
duty to hold the enquiry has accepted and which evidence
may reasonably support the conclusion that the delinquent
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officer is guilty of the charge, it is not the function of the High
Court in a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of
India to review/reappreciate the evidence and to arrive at an
independent finding on the evidence.  In paragraphs 9 to 14,
this Court had considered other decisions on the power of the
High Court on judicial review on the decisions taken by the
Disciplinary Authority as under:
“9. In State of A.P. v. S. Sree Rama Rao [State of
A.P. v. S. Sree Rama Rao, AIR 1963 SC 1723] , a
three­Judge Bench of this Court has held that the
High   Court   is   not   a   court   of   appeal   over   the
decision of the authorities holding a departmental
enquiry against a public servant. It is concerned to
determine   whether   the   enquiry   is   held   by   an
authority competent in that behalf, and according
to the procedure prescribed in that behalf, and
whether   the   rules   of   natural   justice   are   not
violated. The Court held as under : (AIR pp. 1726­
27, para 7)
“7. … The High Court is not constituted in a
proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution a
court of appeal over the decision of the authorities
holding a departmental enquiry against a public
servant : it is concerned to determine whether the
enquiry is held by an authority competent in that
behalf, and according to the procedure prescribed
in that behalf, and whether the rules of natural
justice   are   not   violated.   Where   there   is   some
evidence, which the authority entrusted with the
duty to hold the enquiry has accepted and which
evidence may reasonably support the conclusion
that the delinquent officer is guilty of the charge, it
is not the function of the High Court in a petition
for a writ under Article 226 to review the evidence
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and to arrive at an independent finding on the
evidence.”
10. In B.C.   Chaturvedi v. Union   of   India [B.C.
Chaturvedi v. Union of India, (1995) 6 SCC 749 :
1996 SCC (L&S) 80] , again a three­Judge Bench
of this Court has held that power of judicial review
is not an appeal from a decision but a review of
the manner in which the decision is made. Power
of   judicial   review   is   meant   to   ensure   that   the
individual   receives   fair   treatment   and   not   to
ensure  that the conclusion which the  authority
reaches is necessarily correct in the eyes of the
court. The court/tribunal in its power of judicial
review does not act as an appellate authority to
reappreciate the evidence and to arrive at its own
independent findings on the evidence. It was held
as under : (SCC pp. 759­60, paras 12­13)
“12. Judicial review is not an appeal from a
decision but a review of the manner in which the
decision is made. Power of judicial review is meant
to   ensure   that   the   individual   receives   fair
treatment and not to ensure that the conclusion
which the authority reaches is necessarily correct
in   the   eye   of   the   court.   When   an   inquiry   is
conducted on charges of misconduct by a public
servant,   the   Court/Tribunal   is   concerned   to
determine   whether   the   inquiry   was   held   by   a
competent   officer   or   whether   rules   of   natural
justice are complied with. Whether the findings or
conclusions   are   based   on   some   evidence,   the
authority entrusted with the power to hold inquiry
has jurisdiction, power and authority to reach a
finding of fact or conclusion. But that finding must
be based on some evidence. Neither the technical
rules of the Evidence Act nor of proof of fact or
evidence as defined therein, apply to disciplinary
proceeding.   When   the   authority   accepts   that
evidence   and   conclusion   receives   support
therefrom, the disciplinary authority is entitled to
hold that the delinquent officer is  guilty of the
charge. The Court/Tribunal in its power of judicial
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review   does   not   act   as   appellate   authority   to
reappreciate the evidence and to arrive at its own
independent   findings   on   the   evidence.   The
Court/Tribunal may interfere where the authority
held the proceedings against the delinquent officer
in a manner inconsistent with the rules of natural
justice or in violation of statutory rules prescribing
the mode of inquiry or where the conclusion or
finding   reached   by   the   disciplinary   authority   is
based on no evidence. If the conclusion or finding
be such as no reasonable person would have ever
reached,   the   Court/Tribunal   may   interfere   with
the conclusion or the finding, and mould the relief
so as to make it appropriate to the facts of each
case.
13. The disciplinary authority is the sole judge
of facts. Where appeal is presented, the appellate
authority has co­extensive power to reappreciate
the evidence or the nature of punishment. In a
disciplinary   inquiry,   the   strict   proof   of   legal
evidence  and  findings  on  that evidence  are  not
relevant.   Adequacy   of   evidence   or   reliability   of
evidence   cannot   be   permitted   to   be   canvassed
before   the   Court/Tribunal.   In Union   of
India v. H.C.   Goel [Union   of   India v. H.C.   Goel,
(1964) 4 SCR 718 : AIR 1964 SC 364] , this Court
held   at   p.   728   that   if   the   conclusion,   upon
consideration   of   the   evidence   reached   by   the
disciplinary authority, is perverse or suffers from
patent error on the face of the record or based on
no evidence at all, a writ of certiorari could be
issued.”
11. In High   Court   of   Bombay v. Shashikant   S.
Patil [High Court of Bombay v. Shashikant S. Patil,
(2000) 1 SCC 416 : 2000 SCC (L&S) 144] , this
Court held that interference with the decision of
departmental   authorities   is   permitted   if   such
authority had held proceedings in violation of the
principles   of   natural   justice   or   in   violation   of
statutory regulations prescribing the mode of such
enquiry while exercising jurisdiction under Article
20
226 of the Constitution. It was held as under :
(SCC p. 423, para 16)
“16.   The   Division   Bench   [Shashikant   S.
Patil v. High Court of Bombay, 1998 SCC OnLine
Bom 97 : (2000) 1 LLN 160] of the High Court
seems to have approached the case as though it
was   an   appeal   against   the   order   of   the
administrative/disciplinary authority of the High
Court.   Interference   with   the   decision   of
departmental authorities can be permitted, while
exercising   jurisdiction   under   Article   226   of   the
Constitution   if   such   authority   had   held
proceedings in violation of the principles of natural
justice   or   in   violation   of   statutory   regulations
prescribing  the   mode  of  such  enquiry  or  if  the
decision   of   the   authority   is   vitiated   by
considerations   extraneous   to   the   evidence   and
merits of the case, or if the conclusion made by
the   authority,   on   the   very   face   of   it,   is   wholly
arbitrary or capricious that no reasonable person
could   have   arrived   at   such   a   conclusion,   or
grounds very similar to the above. But we cannot
overlook that the departmental authority (in this
case the Disciplinary Committee of the High Court)
is the sole judge of the facts, if the enquiry has
been properly conducted. The settled legal position
is that if there is some legal evidence on which the
findings   can   be   based,   then   adequacy   or   even
reliability   of   that   evidence   is   not   a   matter   for
canvassing before the High Court in a writ petition
filed under Article 226 of the Constitution.”
12. In State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur v. Nemi
Chand   Nalwaya [State   Bank   of   Bikaner   &
Jaipur v. Nemi   Chand   Nalwaya,   (2011)   4   SCC
584 : (2011) 1 SCC (L&S) 721] , this Court held
that the courts will not act as an appellate court
and   reassess   the   evidence   led   in   the   domestic
enquiry, nor interfere on the ground that another
view is possible on the material on record. If the
enquiry has been fairly and properly held and the
21
findings are based on evidence, the question of
adequacy of the evidence or the reliable nature of
the evidence will not be ground for interfering with
the findings in departmental enquiries. The Court
held as under : (SCC pp. 587­88, paras 7 & 10)
“7. It is now well settled that the courts will not
act   as   an   appellate   court   and   reassess   the
evidence led in the domestic enquiry, nor interfere
on the ground that another view is possible on the
material on record. If the enquiry has been fairly
and properly held and the findings are based on
evidence, the question of adequacy of the evidence
or the reliable nature of the evidence will not be
grounds   for   interfering   with   the   findings   in
departmental enquiries. Therefore, courts will not
interfere   with   findings   of   fact   recorded   in
departmental   enquiries,   except   where   such
findings are based on no evidence or where they
are clearly perverse. The test to find out perversity
is   to   see   whether   a   tribunal   acting   reasonably
could have arrived at such conclusion or finding,
on the material on record. The courts will however
interfere with the findings in disciplinary matters,
if   principles   of   natural   justice   or   statutory
regulations have been violated or if the order is
found   to   be   arbitrary,   capricious,   mala   fide   or
based   on   extraneous   considerations.   (Vide B.C.
Chaturvedi v. Union   of   India [B.C.
Chaturvedi v. Union of India, (1995) 6 SCC 749 :
1996   SCC   (L&S)   80]   , Union   of   India v. G.
Ganayutham [Union   of   India v. G.   Ganayutham,
(1997)   7   SCC   463   :   1997   SCC   (L&S)   1806]
and Bank of India v. Degala Suryanarayana [Bank
of  India v. Degala  Suryanarayana, (1999) 5 SCC
762   :   1999   SCC   (L&S)   1036]   , High   Court   of
Bombay v. Shashikant   S.   Patil [High   Court   of
22
Bombay v. Shashikant S. Patil, (2000) 1 SCC 416 :
2000 SCC (L&S) 144] .)
***
10.   The   fact   that   the   criminal   court
subsequently acquitted the respondent by giving
him   the   benefit   of   doubt,   will   not   in   any   way
render a completed disciplinary proceeding invalid
nor affect the validity of the finding of guilt or
consequential punishment. The standard of proof
required   in   criminal   proceedings   being   different
from   the   standard   of   proof   required   in
departmental   enquiries,   the   same   charges   and
evidence may lead to different results in the two
proceedings,   that   is,   finding   of   guilt   in
departmental   proceedings   and   an   acquittal   by
giving benefit of doubt in the criminal proceedings.
This   is   more   so   when   the   departmental
proceedings are more proximate to the incident, in
point   of   time,   when   compared   to   the   criminal
proceedings. The  findings by the criminal court
will   have   no   effect   on   previously   concluded
domestic   enquiry.   An   employee   who   allows   the
findings in the enquiry and the punishment by the
disciplinary   authority   to   attain   finality   by   nonchallenge, cannot after several years, challenge the
decision   on   the   ground   that   subsequently,   the
criminal court has acquitted him.”
13. In another judgment reported as Union of
India v. P.   Gunasekaran [Union   of   India v. P.
Gunasekaran, (2015) 2 SCC 610 : (2015) 1 SCC
(L&S)   554]   ,   this   Court   held   that   while
reappreciating evidence the High Court cannot act
as   an   appellate   authority   in   the   disciplinary
proceedings. The Court held the parameters as to
when  the  High  Court shall  not interfere  in  the
disciplinary proceedings : (SCC p. 617, para 13)
23
“13. Under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution
of India, the High Court shall not:
(i) reappreciate the evidence;
(ii) interfere with the conclusions in the enquiry,
in   case   the   same   has   been   conducted   in
accordance with law;
(iii) go into the adequacy of the evidence;
(iv) go into the reliability of the evidence;
(v) interfere, if there be some legal evidence on
which findings can be based.
(vi) correct the error of fact however grave it
may appear to be;
(vii) go into the proportionality of punishment
unless it shocks its conscience.”
14. On the other hand the learned counsel for
the respondent relies upon the judgment reported
as Allahabad   Bank v. Krishna   Narayan
Tewari [Allahabad   Bank v. Krishna   Narayan
Tewari, (2017) 2 SCC 308 : (2017) 1 SCC (L&S)
335]   ,   wherein   this   Court   held   that   if   the
disciplinary authority records a finding that is not
supported by any evidence whatsoever or a finding
which is unreasonably arrived at, the writ court
could interfere with the finding of the disciplinary
proceedings.   We   do   not   find   that   even   on
touchstone of that test, the Tribunal or the High
Court could interfere with the findings recorded by
the disciplinary authority. It is not the case of no
evidence   or   that   the   findings   are   perverse.   The
finding that the respondent is guilty of misconduct
has been interfered with only on the ground that
there   are   discrepancies   in   the   evidence   of   the
Department. The discrepancies in the evidence will
not make it a case of no evidence. The inquiry
officer has appreciated the evidence and returned
24
a   finding   that   the   respondent   is   guilty   of
misconduct.”
That   thereafter   this   Court   has   observed   and   held   in
paragraph 7, 8 and 15 as under:
“7. The   disciplinary   authority   has   taken   into
consideration   the   evidence   led   before   the   IO   to
return a finding that the charges levelled against
the respondent stand proved.
8. We find that the interference in the order of
punishment by the Tribunal as affirmed by the
High Court suffers from patent error. The power of
judicial review is confined to the decision­making
process. The power of judicial review conferred on
the constitutional court or on the Tribunal is not
that of an appellate authority.
xxx  xxx xxx
15. The   disciplinary   authority   agreed   with   the
findings of the enquiry officer and had passed an
order of punishment. An appeal before the State
Government   was   also   dismissed.   Once   the
evidence has been accepted by the departmental
authority, in exercise of power of judicial review,
the Tribunal or the High Court could not interfere
with   the   findings   of   facts   recorded   by
reappreciating evidence as if the courts are the
appellate authority. We may notice that the said
judgment   has   not   noticed   the   larger   Bench
judgments in S. Sree Rama Rao [State of A.P. v. S.
Sree   Rama   Rao,   AIR   1963   SC   1723]   and B.C.
Chaturvedi [B.C.   Chaturvedi v. Union   of   India,
(1995)   6   SCC   749   :   1996   SCC   (L&S)   80]   as
mentioned above. Therefore, the orders passed by
25
the   Tribunal   and   the   High   Court   suffer   from
patent illegality and thus cannot be sustained in
law.”
8. Applying the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid
decisions to the facts of the case on hand, we are of the
opinion that the High Court has committed a grave error in
interfering with the order passed by the disciplinary authority
dismissing the respondent – delinquent officer from service.
The High Court has erred in reappreciating the entire evidence
on record and thereafter interfering with the findings of fact
recorded   by   the   Enquiry   Officer   and   accepted   by   the
disciplinary   authority.   By   interfering   with   the   findings
recorded   by   the   Enquiry   Officer   which   as   such   were   on
appreciation of evidence on record, the order passed by the
High Court suffers from patent illegality.   From the findings
recorded   by   the   Enquiry   Officer   recorded   hereinabove,   it
cannot be said that there was no evidence at all which may
reasonably support the conclusion that the Delinquent officer
is guilty of the charge.
26
9. Now   so   far   as   the   submission   on   behalf   of   the
respondent – delinquent officer that as he has been acquitted
in a criminal court and therefore, he cannot be held guilty in a
disciplinary   proceeding   is   concerned,   the   aforesaid   has   no
substance.     From   the   judgment   and   order   passed   by   the
criminal court it appears that he has been given the benefit of
doubt.  Even otherwise the standard of proof which is required
in a criminal case and that of the disciplinary proceedings is
different.     The   fact   that   the   criminal   court  acquitted   the
respondent by giving him the benefit of doubt, will not in any
way render a completed disciplinary proceeding invalid nor
affect   the   validity   of   the   finding   of   guilt   or   consequential
punishment.  As held by this Court in a catena of decisions
the standard of proof required in criminal proceedings being
different from the standard of proof required in departmental
enquiries,   the   same   charges   and   evidence   may   lead   to
different results in the two proceedings, that is, finding of guilt
in departmental proceedings and an acquittal by giving benefit
of doubt in the criminal proceedings
27
10. Now the next question which is posed for consideration
is whether in the facts and circumstances of the case the
appointing   authority   was   justified   in   dismissing   the
delinquent officer from service is concerned looking to the
seriousness of the charge proved of misappropriating the sum
of Rs.10 lakhs and not depositing the same with the Bank, it
cannot be said that the order of dismissal can be said to be
disproportionate to the charge and misconduct held to be
proved.   At this stage even the modus operandi adopted by
the delinquent officer also deserves the consideration.  As per
the evidence on record, he went along with the false and
fabricated   document   dated  06.08.1996   along   with   another
person and he introduced that person as a new cashier and
he   ensured   that   the   voucher   was   not   signed   by   him   but
singed by the other person who was introduced by him as a
new cashier.  Therefore, he saw to it that there is no evidence
on record that he actually received the money.   This shows
the   criminal   mind/conduct   on   the   part   of   the   delinquent
officer.  Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case
it cannot be said that the disciplinary authority/competent
28
authority/management   had   committed   any   error   in
dismissing the respondent – delinquent officer from service. 
11. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above,
the impugned judgment and order passed by the Division
Bench   of   the   High   Court   dismissing   the   appeal   and   not
interfering with the judgment and order passed by the learned
Single Judge which interfered with the order of punishment
imposed   by   the   Disciplinary   Authority   dismissing   the
respondent – delinquent officer from service and the judgment
and order passed by the learned Single Judge are hereby
quashed and set aside.
The  order passed by  the Management  dismissing the
respondent   –   delinquent   officer   on   proved   charge   and
misconduct is hereby restored.
Present Appeal is accordingly Allowed.  In the facts and
circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs. 
…………………………………J.
            (M. R. SHAH)
…………………………………J.
                                                 (B.V. NAGARATHNA)
New Delhi, 
May 20, 2022.
29

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