The Supreme Court while setting aside an order substituting the removal of an employee with that of compulsory retirement, ruled that the disciplinary committee’s punishment can’t be substituted just because the employee had voluntarily deposited the defrauded money.
Accordingly, the Bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna made observations while considering an SLP filed by the Union of India challenging a Madras High Court order that confirmed an order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal that modified the punishment awarded to a postal assistant.
Further, The court ruled that the High Court and Tribunal did not consider the gravity of the offense and had exceeded their jurisdiction by interfering with the quantum of punishment that the Disciplinary Authority imposed. Besides neither the Tribunal nor the High Court noticed any irregularity in the investigation done by the Disciplinary Authority.
The court also referred that the accused had himself admitted defrauding an amount of Rs 16,59,065 which was returned by him only after the fraud was identified.
Further, the Bench held that if the fraud was not identified, the accused might have kept the money.
The court also observed that the accused not only committed monetary loss but also tarnished the image of the department.
The Supreme Court set aside the order passed by the Tribunal and the High Court and upheld the Disciplinary Authority’s decision to remove the accused employee from service.
Title: Union of India & Ors vs M Duraisamy
Case No.: CA 2665/2022