They challenged company's order of suspension

The Madras High Court has dismissed, with costs of Rs.5,000 each, petitions by six officers of FCI challenging an order and subsequent proceedings by the company authorities in November 2009. The amount should be paid to the company.

The petitioners, V. Annamalai, manager, Accounts, Thanjavur, and five others were suspended by an order of December last year.

However, on December 15, the court granted an interim stay restraining the authorities from disturbing the petitioners from executing their functions peacefully.

The charge against the petitioners was that they had, in their capacity as office-bearers of the FCI (SZ) Employees Cooperative Society, borrowed Rs.50 crore from ICICI Bank but defaulted in repaying the instalments.

They contended that as their actions were in the capacity of office-bearers of the cooperative society, no disciplinary control vested with the company.

In his order, Justice K. Chandru said none of the petitioners had disclosed their suspension before the court. However, they got an order restraining the FCI from initiating any action. It was startling to note that the petitioners had never been issued any order proposing to take disciplinary action.

The petitioners were not only employees of FCI; all other members of the cooperative society were also the company's employees.

When they were aggrieved about the loans which were raised in their names, they were entitled to give complaints not only to the authorities administering the cooperative society but also to the employer about their own colleagues.

There was a criminal investigation against the petitioners. For that purpose, the company had constituted a committee of managers to probe the matter.

As and when specific misconduct by any petitioner was unearthed, it would be open to the company to proceed against them.

Mr. Justice Chandru said it was not open to the petitioners to contend that no action could be taken against them for grave acts of misconduct.

Keywords: FCIjudiciaryChennai

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