No person can be demoted to a post lower than what he was actually appointed on

South Bengal State Transport Corporation - Appellant


Ashok Kumar Ghosh and Others – Petitioner - Respondent

Facts of the Case:
Petitioner was appointed to serve as a conductor with the appellant. On a particular day while he was performing his duty in a bus, a checking squad conducted a surprise check. The squad traced a passenger travelling without ticket and fined him. They also discovered that the petitioner was carrying excessive amount of Rs. 345 in his cash-bag.

Divisional Manager, Durgapur - disciplinary authority for the petitioner, was then appointed to act as an Enquiry Officer in the matter. The petitioner was also issued a memo for the alleged misconducts.

Petitioner here contended that tracing a passenger without ticket did not amount to misconduct as the passenger was traced and fined on the spot. Also, he clarified that the excess cash in the cash-bag belonged to a passenger who left it behind and now had claimed back the same. Thus, he was carrying the amount to return it to the passenger.

The Divisional Manager, while rejecting his contention held him guilty and demoted him to the post of a Daily Rated Conductor.

Petitioner challenged this decision before the Calcutta High Court contending that, appointing an Enquiry Officer while framing the charge-sheet without considering his reply was a biased move on part of the authorities.

High Court accepted the contentions of petitioner and ruled that, reply of delinquent employee needs to be considered prior to appointing Enquiry Officer. Thus, holding the proceedings to be biased it ordered retention of petitioner to his actual post of conductor.

Appellant thus preferred an appeal before the Supreme Court.

Decision: Hon’ble Supreme Court, setting aside the order of the High Court held that appointing an Enquiry Officer at the time of framing the charge-sheet was not wrong. But, an employee cannot be relegated to a post lower than the one to which he/she was appointed. Thus, ordered reinstating the petitioner to his original post, but with lowest wages applicable to the post.


Source: Labour Law Reporter, Pg. No. 723, Supreme Court of India, July 2010.


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