Employee Has No Absolute Right To Be Represented In Departmental Proceedings Through Agent Of His Choice: Supreme Court

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Employee Has No Absolute Right To Be Represented In Departmental Proceedings Through Agent Of His Choice

Case: Rajasthan Marudhara Gramin Bank (RMGB) vs Ramesh Chandra Meena

Coram: Justices MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna

Case No.: CA 7451 of 2021

Court Observation: If the reasoning of the High Court is considered, the High Court is of the opinion that as there is no complete or absolute bar even on engaging a lawyer, it is difficult to accept that a retired employee of the Bank cannot be engaged to represent a delinquent officer in the departmental inquiry. However, the High Court has not appreciated the effect of the Handbook. As per The High Court has considered Regulation 44 of the Regulation, 2010, however has not considered clause 8 of the Handbook Procedure on the ground that the same cannot be said to be supplementary. However, we are of the opinion that Handbook Procedure can be said to be supplementary. The same cannot be said to be in conflict with the Regulation 44 of Regulation, 2010. As observed herein above, neither Regulation 44 permits nor restricts engagement of an ex­employee of the Bank to be DR. Therefore, Clause 8.2 cannot be said to be in conflict with the provisions of Regulation, 2010. Provisions of Regulation, 2010 and the provisions of Handbook Procedure are required to be read harmoniously, the result can be achieved without any violation of any of the provisions of Regulation, 2010 and the Handbook Procedure. The objects of Regulation 44 of Regulation, 2010 and Clause 8 of the Handbook Procedure seem to be to avoid any outsider including legal representative and / or even ex-­employee of the Bank. At the cost of repetition, it is observed that there is no absolute right in favour of the delinquent officer’s to be represented in the departmental proceedings through the agent of his choice and the same can be restricted by the employer.

“As per settled proposition of law and as observed herein above, in decisions referred to herein above, the only requirement is that delinquent officer must be given fair opportunity to represent his case and that there is no absolute right in his favour to be represented through the agent of his choice. However, at the same time, if the charge is severe and complex nature, then request to be represented through a counsel can be considered keeping in mind Regulation 44 of Regulation, 2010 and if in a particular case, the same is denied, that can be ground to challenge the ultimate outcome of the departmental enquiry. However, as a matter of right in each and every case irrespective of whether charges is severe and complex nature or not, the employee as a matter of right cannot pray that he may be permitted to represent through the agent of his choice.”

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