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Supreme Court: Employee can’t be Represented in Departmental Proceedings through a Agent

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Mitali Palnitkar

Published On: January 05, 2022 at 19:17 IST

The Apex Court ruled that no absolute rights are given to the delinquent employee to avail the services of a lawyer or an ex-employee for his defence in disciplinary Proceedings. It also stated that the employee’s choice of defence representative in such kind of Proceedings could be changed by the employer.

This Judgment reversed the Judgment of Rajasthan High Court which had allowed a delinquent bank employee to take the services of an ex-employee for his defence in disciplinary Proceedings.

The Bench comprising of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and M R Shah stated, “The Respondent employee/Respondent delinquent has no absolute right to avail the services by ex-employee of the bank as his DR in the departmental proceedings.”

The Counsel for Rajasthan Marudhara Gramin Bank, Rishabh Sancheti argued that the Rajasthan High Court had committed a mistake by permitting the employee to be represented by a retired officer in the disciplinary proceedings. This step was taken even though it was specified in the Handbook Procedure that the Defence Representative (DR) shall be a serving official of the bank.

The High Court had stated that the employee could not be restrained from taking services of retired employee since engaging a lawyer was not absolutely barred. But Justices Khanna and Shah of the Supreme Court were of the view that engaging of a delinquent employee with any outsider or ex-employee of the bank as a DR was not provided in the regulations though engaging with a lawyer with prior permission of authorities was provided in the regulations.

The Bench stated that the Handbook procedure which was approved by the Board of Directors was applicable and binding on all the employees of the bank. It also highlighted the Clause 8 from the Handbook Procedure which was regarding the Defence representative and that he/she shall be a serving employee.

The Court also stated that not granting permission to the delinquent officer for being represented by an ex-employee “cannot be said to be in any way in breach of principles of natural justice and/or it violates any of the rights of the delinquent officer.”