IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NOS.5055-5056 OF 2011
[Arising out of SLP (Civil) Nos.20719-20720 Of 2008]
State Bank of Mysore & Others etc. ... Appellants
M.C. Krishnappa ... Respondent
CIVIL APPEAL NO.5057 OF 2011
[Arising out of SLP (Civil) No.15378 Of 2009]
M.C. Krishnappa ... Appellant
State Bank of Mysore represented by its
Managing Director & Ors. ... Respondents
J UD G M E N T
Aftab Alam, J.
SLP (CIVIL) NOS.20719-20720 OF 2008
1. Leave granted.
2. The respondent - M.C. Krishnappa is an employee of the appellant -
State Bank of Mysore. He was originally inducted in the service of the bank
in the clerical cadre but at the material time, by virtue of promotions, he was
in the Junior Management Grade Scale-I. He was served with a charge sheet
on September 25, 1990. The charges, in brief, were as under:-
"a) Prepared and passed a withdrawal slip for Rs.10,000/- on
29.05.1989 in the Savings Bank account No.4738 of Smt.
Lalithamma despite being aware that there was no sufficient
balance in the said account and derived pecuniary gain for
"b) Caused fraudulent withdrawal of Rs.6,000/- on 02.03.1989
in the Savings Bank account No.941 of Shri N. Narayanappa,
without posting the voucher in the said account and to conceal
his acts, he had checked the ledgers on the day the voucher was
3. The charges were duly established in a departmental enquiry
following which the disciplinary authority passed the order of his removal
from service on February 8, 1993. The respondent made an appeal against
the order passed by the disciplinary authority but it was rejected by the
appellate authority by order dated July 28, 1993. The respondent took the
matter before the Reviewing Authority where he was able to partial relief.
The Reviewing Authority, by order dated April 2, 1994, modified the
respondent's punishment and reduced it from removal from service to
demotion from the cadre of Junior Management Grade Scale-I to the cadre
of clerk with a further bar against promotion for a period of seven years.
4. The respondent rejoined the service, accepting the punishment given
to him in terms of the review order. But after the expiry of the period of
seven years, he moved the Karnataka High Court, challenging the
punishment awarded to him, in Writ Petition No.40666 of 2001 (S-RES)
which was partly allowed by judgment and order dated April 21, 2006
passed by a learned single judge of the High Court.
5. It was contended on behalf of the respondent that regulation 67(e) of
the State Bank of Mysore Officer's Service Regulations, 1979 permitted
reduction of rank of an Officer to a lower rank in the Officer Grade itself and
the respondent, therefore, could not have been demoted to the cadre of
clerks. A grievance was also made in regard to the bar against promotion for
the period of seven years. The learned single judge noted that the only
grievance of the Writ Petitioner (the respondent in this appeal) was in
relation to the levy of penalty. He rejected the contention that the Writ
Petitioner could not be put down in the clerk's cadre and his demotion could
only be confined to a lower rank in the Officer Grade itself. The learned
judge, however, felt that the bar against promotion for the period of seven
years was quite harsh and in that connection observed as follows:-
"There is some force in the contention of the learned counsel
for the petitioner that total punishment levied on the petitioner
is too harsh and disproportionate to the charge levelled against
xxx xxx xxx
Having regard to the nature of charges, I am of the view that the
total penalty levied on the petitioner is little more harsh and
shocks my conscience. The petitioner having been demoted
from the Officer cadre to the cadre of Clerk, must be given an
opportunity to improve himself and if he improves, he should
be promoted to further higher cadre if he is so entitled. The total
bar on any promotion for a period of 7 long years is too harsh
and requires to be modified. If the petitioner improves his
performance, his integrity and his devotion to work in the cadre
of Clerk, he should not be denied further promotion from that
6. Having taken the view as appearing from the above, the single judge
set aside the bar of promotion against the respondent for the period of seven
years subject to the qualification, however, that the order will not affect the
promotion of other employees and their seniority.
7. Against the judgment and order passed by the single judge both, the
appellant (the bank) and the respondent, preferred intra-court appeals. A
Division Bench of the High Court, however, dismissed both, Writ Appeal
No.915 of 2006(S-RES) (filed by the respondent - Writ Petitioner) and Writ
Appeal No.989 of 2006(S-RES) (filed by the appellants) by judgment and
order dated July 19, 2007. The Division Bench did not find any illegality in
the order passed by the single judge and rather agreed with the view taken
by him that the punishment barring promotion for seven years was too harsh
and that it required to be set aside.
8. We are unable to agree with the view taken by the High Court. It is
well settled that punishment is primarily a function of the Management and
the courts rarely interfere with the quantum of punishment. (See:
Administrator, UT of Dadra & Nagar Haveli v. Gulabhia M. Lad (2010) 5
SCC 775; paragraphs 9 and 14).
9. In this case the proven charge against the respondent was of financial
irregularities and of making fraudulent withdrawals deriving pecuniary gain
for himself. In a bank an offence of this kind is one of the most serious
offences and the disciplinary authority had passed an order of removal
against the respondent. In the facts of the case even that punishment could
not be said to be unreasonable or unduly harsh. The Reviewing Authority
modified the order of punishment and gave him a lighter punishment
instead. At that time the respondent accepted it without ado. In those facts
we fail to see any scope for interference with the punishment on a purely
subjective view taken by the High Court.
10. We are, therefore, constrained to interfere in the matter. The
judgments and orders of the High Court are set aside and the Writ Petition
filed by the respondent is dismissed. The appeals arising out of SLP (Civil)
Nos. 20719-20720 of 2008 are, accordingly, allowed.
11. It is made clear that the period of seven years during which the bar
against the respondent's promotion was operating is long over. In case, after
the expiry of the period of the bar the respondent is found fit for promotion
in terms of the relevant rules he would undoubtedly be entitled to get it in
accordance with law.
SLP (CIVIL) NO.15378 OF 2009
12. Delay condoned.
13. Leave granted.
14. In view of the order passed in civil appeals arising out of SLP(C)
Nos.20719-20720 of 2008, this appeal stands dismissed.
July 6, 2011.