34 years after bank dismissed staffer,High Court sets aside order

Justice delayed: 72-year-old Gopal Vasudev may have to face a fresh inquiry into offences he is accused of having committed in 1973

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Published: August 29, 2013 1:46 am

Nearly 40 years after a bank employee was dismissed from service,the Delhi High Court has held that the inquiry conducted,after which he was dismissed,was against the “principles of natural justice” and set aside the dismissal order.

However,the woes of 72-year-old Gopal Vasudev might not be over. He faces the possibility of another inquiry by the bank into the offences he was accused of having done in 1973.

Gopal Vasudev,was suspended in 1973 by the New Bank of India,which later merged with the Punjab National Bank.

He was terminated from service in 1979 after an inquiry committee of the bank found him guilty of “misconduct” including participation in trade union and buying goods on credit by using his position as an employee of the bank and submitting a fraudulent cheque.

During the proceeding held against Vasudev between 1974 and 1979,he was not allowed to keep a lawyer to represent him nor was he allowed to be represented by another employee of the bank.

He had appealed against the termination before the Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT) and had raised the issue of unfairness of the proceedings,but in an order passed on July 20,1992,the CGIT had held that his termination on grounds of “grave serious act of misconduct” was legal and justified.

Vasudev then approached the High Court against the termination order.

The High Court bench of Justice PK Bhasin in an order on Tuesday set aside the dismissal order as well as the order of the CGIT upholding the termination hold that Vasudev had not been given a fair trial.

“If an employer decides to give appointment to advocates and then their services are availed of for representing it in domestic inquiries,then it should permit the delinquent employee also to avail of the services of an advocate during the inquiry so that he is not put in a disadvantageous position. It is also significant to note that the petitioner had also made an alternative request to the inquiry officer that he should be permitted to be represented by an employee of the bank but that request was also turned down,” the court said.

However,in its order,the Delhi High Court has given leave to the bank to take action according to a Supreme Court order passed in 1980 that allows the company to choose to reopen inquiry proceedings in case a proceeding is seen to have been improper.

This means that the bank can start the inquiry process again instead of paying the due arrears.

Vasudev’s counsel advocate K T Anantharaman said they will now wait to see what steps the bank takes.

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