Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir High Court has dismissed an appeal by the J&K Bank against an order of the Central Government Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court setting aside the termination from service of Bashir Ahmad Khan, former Cashier-cum-Clerk at the Bank’s Fruit Complex Srinagar Branch. Khan was discharged from service following detection of fraud amounting to Rs, 600, 000 in the SB Account No. 2204/23 in the name of one Hafiz Ali Baba.
The Bank had conducted an in-house enquiry which claimed that a fraudulent insertion of the entry of Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 700,000 had been made thereby raising the balance by Rs. 600,000 out of which Rs. 5, 79,025 had been withdrawn from 15 May 1997 to 24 May 1997. Khan was charged with processing and opening of a fake and fictitious SB account and, therefore, making fraudulent insertion to the tune of Rs. 600,000.
Claiming that the inquiry was not conducted in fair and proper manner and the order of disciplinary authority was based on wrong information, Khan filed an appeal before the Bank’s appellate authority which set aside the order of discharge accepting his appeal but, against the Rules, ordered fresh inquiry. During the inquiry, Khan claimed, ‘it was established that the managerial staff tried to escape the liability and he was made a scapegoat without any justification’. Other seven officials of the Branch including the Branch Manager were subjected to disciplinary proceedings. An FIR was lodged with the police.
Khan challenged his termination in the Central Government Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, Chandigarh arguing that the withdrawals from the SB Account No. 2204/23 to the tune of Rs. 5, 79,025 were made when he had already been transferred from the Fruit Complex Branch and that the police inquiry had not established his involvement in the crime in view of the expert opinion of FSL which, at the same time, had found other three employees of the Branch involved. The discharged employee held that the FSL had found three other officials of the Branch involved in the crime.
The Bank management pleaded that Khan was ‘dismissed from service after prolonged investigation, disciplinary proceedings and his case was considered by the appellate authority.’ It alleged that the fraudulent insertions took place in a fake and fictitious savings bank account opened and maintained by Khan till his posting in the Branch and after his transfer withdrawals took place on 19 May 1997 and 25 May 1997. It further alleged that the official did not obtain a photograph of the ostensible account holder, Hafiz Ali Baba, and while issuing cheque book willfully ignored that signatures of the depositor on the cheque book issue register did not match with the cheque book issue application.
Considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case, the Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court presided over by S. P. Singh, on 11 July 2016, held that “the dismissal order of the workman (Khan) dated 15-01-2008 is illegal, unjust and discriminatory and cannot be sustained and the same is set aside.” The court directed the management to reinstate Khan within one month from the date of publication of the award with 40% back wages. For Khan’s failure to do summation, the court ordered that, like co-wrong-doer, Ali Mohammad Matto, Khan also may be awarded punishment of censure entry for this act of omission.
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