The government employee was accused of defrauding the postal department by withdrawal of Rs 16.59 lakh from accounts
Supreme Court of India. Credit: REUTERS FILE PHOTO
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said a delinquent officer, holding a public post, cannot be shown undue sympathy to reduce the quantum of punishment, just because he has deposited the defrauded amount with penal interest.
A bench of Justices M R Shah and V Nagarathna allowed an appeal filed by the Union government against the Madras High Court’s order which had affirmed a decision to convert punishment to a postal assistant, M Duraisamy, from removal from service to compulsory retirement.
The employee was accused of defrauding the postal department by withdrawing Rs 16.59 lakh from accounts. After the inquiry, when the fraud was detected, he deposited Rs 18.09 lakh including penal interest.
“What about the loss caused to the department by way of goodwill, name, and fame of the department and its reliability amongst the public? By such a misconduct/act on the part of the delinquent officer, the reputation of the department had been tarnished,” the bench said.
The Centre contended merely because the delinquent officer worked for 39 years and this was their first misconduct by him and that the entire amount was deposited after the fraud was detected, cannot be grounds to interfere with the conscious decision taken by the disciplinary authority to remove the employee from service.
Agreeing to the argument, the bench said neither the Central Administrative Tribunal nor the High Court considered the nature and gravity of the offence and exceeded their jurisdiction by interfering with the punishment.
“The officer was holding the post of trust. Merely because subsequently the employee had deposited the defrauded amount and therefore there was no loss caused to the department cannot be a ground to take a lenient view and/or to show undue sympathy in favour of such an employee,” the bench said.