Labour & Industrial Law

S.B.I. Vs. Hemant Kumar (Decided on 06.04. 2011) SC/0344/2011

Labour and Industrial - Domestic enquiry - Violation of principles of natural justice - Respondent Cashier-cum-Clerk allegedly misappropriated cash from appellant bank - Respondent was charge-sheeted and enquiry proceedings were initiated - Since respondent was absent on various dates of hearing, enquiry officer passed ex parte order holding that respondent was guilty of charges - - Respondent raised an industrial dispute subsequent to dismissal of Departmental appeal against ex parte order - Industrial Tribunal directed reinstatement of respondent holding that departmental enquiry suffered from violation of principles of natural justice - High Court upheld Tribunal order in appellant's writ petition - Whether there was any violation of principles of natural justice in instant case

Held, principles of natural justice should not be stretched to a point where they would render in-house proceedings unworkable - Respondent had not appeared for enquiry on two earlier dates and he was absent on third appointment day also - Respondent adopted dilatory tactics and in-house proceedings should be conducted expeditiously and without any undue loss of time - Tribunal's observation that three barren dates in an in-house proceeding did not amount to delay, was unfortunate - Further, respondent had already tendered two admissions of guilt in writing and one orally before management witness and there was hardly anything that could be said on his behalf to repel charges - Tribunal's findings, therefore, were wholly unreasonable and perverse and High Court, unfortunately, did not consider matter properly - Hence, impugned orders of Tribunal and High Court were set aside - Appeal allowed.