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  • In the case of Rajasthan Marudhara Gramin Bank vs Ramesh Chandra Meena the Hon’ble SC has held that an employee does not have the absolute right to be represented by a pleader of his choice during departmental proceedings and that the same can be restricted by the employer if he so wishes.
  • In this case, the HC had permitted the delinquent employee who was facing departmental proceedings to be represented by an ex-employee of the bank. Relying upon regulation 44, the Court observed that it only restricts the representation by a legal representative and that too is permissible with the leave of the competent authority. Thus, in the absence of an absolute bar, the employee cannot be restricted from engaging the services of a retired employee of the bank.
  • Setting aside the order of the HC in an appeal filed by the Bank, the Hon’ble Apex Court has held that the HC has not taken into account clause 8 of the Handbook, thinking that it is not supplementary to Regulation 44. But in the Apex Court’s opinion, the same is supplementary and is not in conflict with Regulation 44.
  • The Court was of the opinion that Regulation 44 neither permits nor restricts the engagement of an ex-employee. If the same is read harmoniously with clause 8.2 of the handbook, the object of the same seems to be to avoid any outsider, which even includes an ex-employee of the bank.
  • Thus, the Court observed that there is no absolute right of the delinquent employee to be represented in the departmental proceedings through an agent of his choice.
  • The Court has also observed that the above mentioned observation is also not in violation of any principle of natural justice as the only requirement is that the delinquent officer should be given a fair opportunity to represent his case. In case the charges leveled against him are of a very complex nature, a request to be represented through a counsel can be made under Regulation 44, and in case the same is denied, it would later become a ground to challenge the decision.
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