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Branch Manager, Central Bank Of India v. S.K.Bhatnagar & Others - WRIT - C No. 12419 of 1986 [2004] RD-AH 1027 (5 October 2004)


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Court No. 51

Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 12419 of 1986

Central Bank of India & others        .......       Petitioners


S.K. Bhatnagar & another                   --                   Respondents.


Hon'ble V.C.Misra, J.

Heard learned counsel for the petitioners. No one has appeared on behalf of the respondents.

1. The facts of the case in brief are that the respondent no. 1- S.K. Bhatnagar was initially appointed as Assistant Cashier-cum-Godown Keeper on probation for six months w.e.f. 16.2.1970 in Central Bank of India (in short the Bank). In the year 1978 he appeared before the Selection board of the Bank and was promoted as Chief Cashier on 14.9.1978 and was posted at Loha Mandi Branch of the Central Bank at Agra.  The services of the respondent no. 1 as Chief Cashier, being supervisory in nature, were governed by Central Bank of India (Officers Services Regulations, 1979 and Central Bank of India (Officers Employees, Discipline and Appeal) Regulations, 1976. In the month of November, 1978 it was detected that the respondent no. 1 while working as Head Cashier at Kher Branch of the Bank had committed gross irregularities and had embezzled Bank's money as well as misappropriated depositors' money besides other irregularities. In view of the said serious allegations against the respondent no. 1, he was placed under suspension vide memo dated 20.11.1978 issued by the Divisional Manager, Central Bank of India, Lucknow and a disciplinary inquiry was initiated against him.

2. Being aggrieved, the respondent no. 1 filed Original Suit No. 657 of 1980 in the Civil Court challenging the validity and legality of the very disciplinary proceedings. The learned Munsif vide its order dated 31.10.1980 held that the respondent no. 1 was not a workman and the suit was triable by the Civil Court and decreed the said Original Suit on 8.3.1982. Being aggrieved the petitioner-Bank filed an appeal before the District Judge, Kanpur being Civil Misc. Appeal No. 282 of 1982 which was also dismissed vide its judgment and order dated 3.3.1984 (Annexure No. 3 to the writ petition) upholding the findings recorded by the learned trial court with the observations that it would be open to the Bank to conduct a fresh enquiry into the allegations levelled against the respondent no. 1, in accordance with the Central Bank of India (Officers Employees) (Discipline and Appeal ) Regulations, 1976 and Central Bank of India (Officers) Service Regulations, 1979.

3. The petitioner on 21.9.1984 issued a fresh charge sheet to the respondent no. 1. On receiving the fresh charge sheet, the respondent no. 1 moved an application under Section 33-C-2 of the Industrial Disputes Act. The matter was placed before the Prescribed Authority, Central Government, Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, Kanpur being Adjudication Case No. 438 of 1983.  The petitioner raised objections that the respondent no. 1 was not a workman as he was an employee in a supervisory category and was working as Chief Cashier in the officers cadre of the Bank Management and his services are governed by the Central Bank of India (Officers Employees) (Discipline and Appeal) Regulations, 1976 and Central Bank of India (Officers) Service Regulations, 1979. The respondent no. 1 had also filed a civil suit in Civil Court in which there is a finding of fact declaring him that he is not a workman and that finding has become final. Therefore, subsequently the application filed under Section 33-C-2 of the Industrial Disputes Act was not maintainable and the said finding of fact is binding upon the parties and there is bar on principles analogous to res-judicata, estoppels and waiver and on the grounds of public policy. Therefore, the said application moved under Section 33-C-2 of the Industrial Disputes Act was liable to be rejected.

4. In the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the respondent no.1 it has been submitted that the respondent no.1 is a workman in view of the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act and in view of the Rulings of Several High Courts and Hon'ble Supreme Court.  The work of the respondent no. 1 was not supervisory in nature, or administrative or managerial but purely clerical. The Head Cashier, Chief Cashier as well as Assistant Cashier are clerks and performing same work as that of the respondent no. 1. The respondent no. 1 was not empowered to issue a show cause notice, charge sheet or suspension order against any of the employees of the Bank and he was also not empowered to initiate any disciplinary proceedings against any employee of the Bank and findings given by the Civil Court are not binding upon the Central Industrial Labour Court. In para 12 of the counter affidavit, it has been submitted that in the Junior Management, there are so many post and the persons who are holding the same are workman as has been laid down in catena of decisions of the Supreme Court.

5. I have looked into the record of the case and find that the respondent no.1 has been rightly held to be not a workman by the Civil Court as per the Central Bank of India (Officers Services Regulations) 1979 and Officers and Employees Discipline and Appeal Regulations) 1976, the labour Court in its order dated 1.8.1985 (Annexure-6 to the writ petition) has referred to the decision in the case of S.K. Verma Vs. Mahesh Chandra reported in AIR 1984 Supreme Court 1462, holding him to be a workman. This case has been declared as per-incurium by a subsequent decision given by the Constitutional Bench of the Apex Court in the case of H.R. Adyanthaya  and others Vs. Sandoz (India) Ltd and others reported in (1994) Vol.5 Supreme Court Cases 737,   (para-13). The respondent no.1 was not entitled to raise an industrial disputes. More so, as he had already filed a Civil Suit, which was decreed in his favour and confirmed by the appellate Court. The labour Court-respondent no.2 has erred in holding that the respondent no.1 was a workman only on the ground that since he had no power to dismiss any subordinate staff or to act as disciplinary authority and would not be deemed to be an officer of the Bank. It has also erred in not considering the findings recorded by the Civil Court vide its order-dated 30.10.1980 passed in Civil Suit No.656 of 1980 between the petitioner and respondent no.1. The respondent no.2 ultimately, acted in excess of its jurisdiction and grossly erred in entertaining and allowing the application of the respondent no.1 under the provisions of Section 33-C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act, vide its order dated 25.4.1986 (Annexure-7 to the writ petition).

6. In view of the above said facts and circumstances of the case, and observations made hereinabove, the impugned orders dated 1.8.1985 (Annexure-6 to the writ petition) and 25.4.1986 (Annexure-7 to the writ petition) in L.C.A. Nos.43/1983 and 438/1985, respectively are quashed. The writ petition is allowed. No order as to costs.

October 5, 2004



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