“When the very employee of a bank starts doing cheating with the customers, the same reminds one of the saying ‘nothing can be safe when the fence starts eating the crop’,” the Punjab and Haryana High Court has said while dismissing the bail plea of a bank clerk (cashier), who was arrested for allegedly withdrawing Rs 46.30 lakh from the dormant bank account of a deceased woman. The petitioner is this case is Sushil Kumar, who had been working as a clerk in State Bank of India since 2010.
Seeking regular bail, the petitioner submitted that he has been falsely implicated in the present case. In fact, he is a victim of a criminal conspiracy hatched by the bank’s senior officials in order to save their skin, Kumar submitted. Kumar was booked under sections of cheating and forgery at Pillu Khera police station, Jind district. As per the prosecution version, there was a bank account in the name of Savitri Devi, wife of Rameshwar (stated to have expired on May 11, 2008). Since the account remained inoperative for about 10 years, it was categorised as ‘dormant’. The amount lying in the said account was allegedly withdrawn in cash by the petitioner along with other co-accused, the prosecution submitted. It is alleged that the petitioner had illegally withdrawn the said amount from June 10, 2019, to September 15, 2020.
The petitioner’s counsel submitted that a request for issuing a cheque book (for the account for Savitri Devi) was made on June 10, 2019, from the ID (Identity Document) of the bank manager and on the same day Rs 100 was withdrawn from the account. The counsel submitted that the petitioner had only done his official duty while disbursing the cash and that too was done after proper verification, under the supervision of the branch manager (Pillu Khera Branch). And the petitioner did not forge the signatures of Savitri Devi on any of the documents, the counsel further submitted. The state counsel in reply argued that after the death of Savitri Devi on May 11, 2008, the petitioner along with the co-accused had withdrawn Rs 46,30,000 from her bank account by forging her signatures. Also, after the arrest of the petitioner, Rs 50,000 was recovered from him, the state counsel contended.
After hearing the matter, a bench of Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill said that there are serious and specific allegations against the petitioner, who by using his ID (Identity Document) withdrew a huge amount from the account of Savitri Devi (since deceased) which admittedly was classified as ‘dormant’ and inoperative for years together. Merely because the petitioner has been in custody since May 31, 2022, is no ground to grant him the concession of regular bail.
“The general public has an undying and everlasting faith in the banking system and they deposit their hard-earned money in the banks, considering the same as a safe destination. However, when the very employee of a bank starts doing cheating with the customers, the same reminds one of the saying ‘nothing can be safe when the fence starts eating the crop’. Thus, being the custodian of the public money, the petitioner was ordained with utmost honest conduct, but he has breached the same,” Justice Gill added.
The high court while dismissing the bail plea said that “if people like the petitioner are enlarged on bail, the same would defeat the very fiduciary relationship. Still further, setting the petitioner free would further set a bad example and would rather give oxygen to the fraudsters”.