Case name: UCO Bank & Ors. v. Rajendra Shankar Shukla
In the case, the Supreme Court made a scathing attack on the Appellant Bank in view of illegalities in departmental inquiry against the Respondent Employee including the fact that the Respondent employee was denied even the subsistence allowance during the pendency of the inquiry against him.
In the case, the Bench considered the question of law on access to justice in a departmental inquiry. The Court opined that the Respondent was not given a fair opportunity to defend himself by denying him financial resources.
The Apex Court in the case held that an employee is entitled to subsistence allowance during an inquiry pending against him or her but if that employee is starved of finances by zero payment, it would be unreasonable to expect the employee to meaningfully participate in a departmental inquiry. Access to justice is a valuable right available to every person, even to a criminal, and indeed free legal representation is provided even to a criminal. In the case of a departmental inquiry, the delinquent is at best guilty of a misconduct but that is no ground to deny access to pension or subsistence allowance.