Dismissing employee who abets crime not disproportionate: HC

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Madurai, Feb 7 (PTI) The Madras High Court Bench here todayruled that regardless of whether an employee had directly orindirectly caused loss to his employer through an act ofcrime, dismissal from service was not a disproportionatepunishment as a "loss of confidence" was suffered by therecruiter in his staff.

Justice M Venugopal was hearing a petition filed by theCumbum Urban Cooperative Society challenging the order of theMadurai Labour Court passed in Oct 2004, directing it toreinstate with back wages a clerk, who was dismissed forabetting the misappropriation of funds by the society''ssecretary.

Justice Venugopal said the loss of confidence suffered bythe employer in his employee would be the "primary factor indeciding the quantum of punishment", rather than technicalissues like whether the employee was directly or indirectlyinvolved in the crime.

Justice Venugopal held that the Society had rightlydismissed the the clerk, M Dinakaran, accused of abetting thethe secretary, who had embezzled Rs 3.37 lakh. The judge ruledthat Dinakaran had "acted against the interest of his employerwithout exercising an impeccable standard of honesty andintegrity".

"The Society has lost the confidence upon the employee, thelabour court cannot exercise its discretion and set aside theorder of termination. The labour court view is illogical andillegal. Hence this court interferes with the award of thecourt to prevent an aberration of justice", the judge ruled.

Observing that the society secretary had embezzledRs 3.37 lakh deposited by its customers who redeemed theirpledged jewels, Justice Venugopal said the clerk had notbrought the act to the notice of the Special Officer of theSociety despite being aware of it.

"This showed he had connived or aided or abetted themisdeeds of the secretary. If he is retained in employmentthen it will be against the interest of the society", thejudge held.

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