SC: Power of High Court on Judicial Review not similar to Adjudication on Merits as Appellate Authority

JUDICIAL REVIEW proceedings law insider

Mitali Palnitkar

Published On: February 21, 2022 at 15:21

On February 18, it was observed by the Supreme Court that the power of Judicial Review in the matters of Disciplinary Inquiries, discharged by the Constitutional Courts under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution is not analogous to the Adjudication of the Case on merits as an Appellate Authority.

The Division Bench comprised of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S Oka. It was dealing with an Appeal challenging an Allahabad High Court Order which had set aside the Disciplinary Proceedings and consequential punishment inflicted upon the Respondent, who while working as an officiating manager at UCO Bank had committed misconduct.

An Inquiry was conducted against the Respondent under UCO Bank Officers Employees’ (Conduct) Regulations, 1976 where he was found guilty for three Charges alleged against him but one Charge was not proved.

The Inquiry was upheld by the Disciplinary Authority and punishment was imposed on the Respondent. The Respondent filed an Appeal but the guilt of the Respondent was upheld by the Appellate Authority, and the punishment imposed on disciplinary authority on two charges was modified.

The Respondent was aggrieved and filed a Writ Petition before the Allahabad High Court challenging the Penalty imposed. The High Court exonerated the Respondent of the two charges, but his guilt for one of the charges was upheld. Thereafter, an Appeal was filed in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court noted that the High Court made an error in proceeding on premise that the Appellate authority while modifying the punishment for two charges had exonerated the Respondent.

It analyzed the power of High Court and scope of Judicial Review under Articles 226 and 227 in matter related to disciplinary inquiry. It observed that the Constitutional Courts shall not assume the role of Appellate authority where Jurisdiction is circumscribed by the limits of correcting errors of law or procedural errors leading to injustice or violation of principles of natural justice.

The Court also noted that the Respondent did not argue against the manner of inquiry or lapses occurred or procedure not followed. Therefore, the court set aside the High Court Order and allowed the Appeal.

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