10 June 2024


Judgments

Supreme Court

State Bank of India and Ors. Vs. K.S. Vishwanath

MANU/SC/0698/2022

20.05.2022

Service

Re-appreciation of the evidence on record by the High Court in exercise of powers under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India is not permissible

The Appellant - SBI - employer has preferred the present appeal against the impugned judgment passed by the High Court by which the High Court has confirmed the judgment and order passed by 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 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 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, 1950 has reappreciated the evidence on record which otherwise is not permissible.

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 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.

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.

The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court is set aside. The order passed by the Management dismissing the Respondent - delinquent officer on proved charge and misconduct is restored. Present Appeal is accordingly allowed.

Tags : Payment Direction Legality

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