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Bar against promotion

K.S.Srinivas ,
  09 August 2011       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court of India
Brief :
Bar against promotion — in challenge — a chargesheet issued against the respondent for financial irregularities and making fraudulent withdrawals deriving pecuniary gain for himself — departmental enquiry initiated — order of removal from service — challenged — the Reviewing Authority 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 — writ petition filed — the High Court set aside the bar of promotion against the respondent holding the view that the punishment barring promotion for seven years was too harsh — hence, the appeals — the Supreme Court held that punishment is primarily a function of the Management and the courts rarely interfere with the quantum of punishment — the orders of the High Court set aside and the Writ Petition filed by the respondent dismissed.
Citation :
(Case No: Civil Appeal No(s). 5055-5056 of 2011 With Civil Appeal No. 5057 of 2011) State Bank of Mysore & others etc Appellant(s) versus M.C. Krishnappa Respondent Date of Decision(mm/dd/yy): 07/06/2011.



                     IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA




                   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


        the petitioner.



                                      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.




                                                     (AFTAB ALAM)




                                                     (R.M. LODHA)




New Delhi;


July 6, 2011.

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Published in Labour & Service Law
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