Question: I have been arrested by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 25.06.2013 stating that I have colluded with fraudsters to defraud bank money. I was working as the Bank manager at State Bank of India (SBI). The fraud has happened at a branch of Punjab National Bank (PNB) and credited to a customers account at my branch. I have permitted them to transact their account as the cheque presented by them for transfer are in order. The incident occurred in October 2011. I was later transferred to regional office in 2012 and then to another branch as manager in 2013.
All the evidences for forgery at PNB was lost during transit to CBI. Hence they diverted their attention towards the flow of funds and booked me in the case. CBI filed their charge sheet at court in March 2014. Due to my arrest in June 2013, Suspension order was issued by the disciplinary authority and I was permitted to appeal within 45 days. As such I submitted my appeal in august 2013 to revoke suspension as soon as I came out on bail. The appellate authority has not replied till today regarding my suspension. I was called for to submit my explanation in Dec 2013 about certain alleged irregularities. I submitted my explanation in Dec 2013 itself. As soon as the CBI filed their charge sheet in March 2014, Bank issued charge sheet in May 2014 on certain irregularities and started its enquiry process. The bank took 10 months time to issue charge sheet.
The charges mentioned therein are general practices followed almost at most of the branches, i.e., non-maintenance of registers, non-verification of genuineness of documents etc. The registers mentioned as not maintained by me are not discontinued by me. These registers are to be maintained by clerical staff. Theses registers are not introduced at the branch since branch opening. The incidents took place in 2011, nearly 3 years earlier and hence the letters/ correspondence in this regard are not traceable. Although there are entries in letter sent register, dispatch register etc. the Bank doesn’t accept.
As the disciplinary proceedings are not conducted in a judicial manner, I obtained an interim order from the High court to stop the disciplinary proceedings as the charges are one another the same in November 2014. The Bank has not filed any petition to vacate the stay till today (7 months).
As such I am under suspension for two years. Kindly advise whether I can approach the court for reinstatement. Please advise.
Answer: You can definitely approach the competent court for revocation of suspension and your reinstatement in service. Suspension for 3 years is a long duration. You have not mentioned whether your suspension has been reviewed from time to time, and also what are the rules in your bank relating to review of the suspension. Normally, nowadays, under the Government rules and also under rules of many PSUs (your bank rules may be similar), there are provisions for review of the suspension at periodic intervals such as 3 months or 6 months. These review orders have to be reasoned orders. You can check the rules applicable in your bank and accordingly approach the appropriate court against the suspension order.
Recently, there was a Supreme Court judgment in which it was observed that suspension should not be continued for long durations without serving the charge sheet. Please read: Suspension order not to extend beyond 3 months if charge-sheet is not served, says Supreme Court. The legal principle laid down in this judgment was derived from the right to speedy trial in criminal cases. Thus, the right to speedy trial, which is available in a criminal trial, has been, directly or indirectly, extended also to the suspension and departmental enquiries. Please go through this judgment, check the rules applicable to you in your bank, and approach the court by way of an appropriate petition (if needed, you should take help of some local advocate at your place).