Uco Bank and Ors. V. M.B. Motwani (Dead) Thr. Lrs. & Ors.
Date of Order:
12th October, 2023
Hon'ble Justice Hima Kohli
Hon'ble Justice Rajesh Bindal
Petitioner: Uco Bank and Ors
Respondent: Motwani (Dead) Thr. Lrs. & Ors
The court decided that the 1979 Regulations could only be used when the disciplinary action had begun before the employee's service had ended. Even if the delinquent employee has reached the age of superannuation, he would only be considered to be in service if a legitimate departmental proceeding had been started
- In the year 1952, the first respondent was hired by the appellant Bank as an apprentice.
- He was assigned to the Moradabad Branch as a Branch Manager in the year 1974. He was thereafter moved as an Assistant Manager to the Calcutta Main Branch. The first respondent received a promotion in 1976 and was assigned to Bombay as a Senior Management Scale-IV Officer.
- He worked in the Bombay Main Branch as an Assistant General Manager from 1988 to 1990. He turned 65 on July 2, 1991, and was scheduled to retire on July 31, 1991.
- Immediately after that, on June 17, 1991, the respondent no. 1 received a memo demanding that he provide an explanation for the irregularities and failures related to specific accounts that occurred while he was in charge of the Bombay Main Branch.
- The respondent No. 1 was placed under suspension on July 15, 1991, by the General Manager acting in accordance with Regulation 12 of the 1976 Regulations, despite having reached the age of superannuation as defined by Regulation 20(3)(iii) of the 1979 Regulations.
Whether the Manager can pass the order of suspension after the retirement of the employee?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
- The appellant-Bank's learned Additional Solicitor General of India asserted that the impugned judgment of the High Court was rendered on the erroneous premises and without fully understanding the arguments.
- The 1979 Regulations made it clear that actions might be taken even against retired employees.
- The knowledgeable attorney for the appellant-bank argued that this clearly states that the disciplinary proceedings against an employee shall be deemed to be pending on the date of retirement in case a show cause notice has been issued to him prior to that.
- He cited Regulation 20(3)(b) of the 1979 Regulations in support of this claim. A second provision of Regulation 20(3)(c) of the 1979 Regulations states that an officer who is being investigated for misconduct cannot retire or be allowed to retire when they reach the age of superannuation.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- Learned counsel appearing for the respondent no.1, submitted that the1979 Regulations do not provide for any procedure to be followed for inquiry or the punishment which can be imposed.
- The 1976 Regulations, which state that after an employee retires, the only punishment that may be meted out is termination from service rather than termination of retiral benefits, must be cited by the disciplinary authority.
- The first respondent passed away on December 30, 2012. The employee in question received no payment of retirement benefits. As a result of the delay, the appellant-Bank should be given instructions to pay the debt along with interest.
- The court decided that the 1979 Regulations could only be used when the disciplinary action had begun before the employee's service had ended.
- Even if the delinquent employee has reached the age of superannuation, he would only be considered to be in service if a legitimate departmental proceeding had been started.
- The departmental proceeding did not begin solely because a show cause notice was issued.
- All service benefits due to the deceased employee, along with interest at 7% per year from the date of his retirement until the payment is made, must be paid by the appellant-Bank to the deceased employee's legal heirs within three months of the date of the punishment order's annulment.
- The appeal filed by the appellant-Bank is meritless and the same is accordingly dismissed with costs, quantified at ₹25,000/-
The court provided a definitive ruling on the application of disciplinary regulations post-retirement. It was held that the 1979 Regulations could only be invoked if the disciplinary action had commenced prior to the employee's retirement, thus necessitating the presence of an ongoing departmental proceeding. Despite the issuance of a show cause notice, the absence of a formal disciplinary process precluded the application of the 1979 Regulations in this case. Consequently, the court directed the appellant-Bank to release all due service benefits to the legal heirs of the deceased employee along with interest, with the appeal being dismissed and the appellant-Bank instructed to pay costs amounting to ₹25,000/-, marking the conclusion of the matter.