Welcome!

Welcome! The purpose of this blog is to share information and knowledge on Departmental Inquiry. Consultancy guidance and training services are available.
Important: Every effort has been taken to provide relevant and up-to-date information, however I do not take any responsibility for any action taken on the basis of the tips/write-ups in this blog.

You may visit following blogs:
- 'Quality Concepts and ISO 9001:2008 QMS Awareness' at http://iso9001-2008awareness.blogspot.in/
- 'ISO 9001 QMS Awareness' Blog in Hindi at http://iso9001awareness.blogspot.in/
- 'EMS Awareness' Blog at http://emsawareness.blogspot.in/
- Blog on 'Forthcoming ISO 9001:2015 QMS Awareness' at http://qmsawareness.blogspot.in
With best wishes,

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Training Handbook on 'Departmental Inquiry Awareness'


Dear friends,

Greetings!

People generally are afraid of departmental inquiry. People find difficulty in participating in departmental inquiry.

I have been associated with departmental inquiry and thus I have the opportunity to read books, generally voluminous books, related to departmental inquiry. During my service as an officer of a bank and also as an elected representative of the officers' association, I had opportunities to participate in departmental inquiries, sometimes as Presenting Officer on behalf of the management or sometimes as defence representative assisting the charged officer. Thus, I could gain experience to learn the insight of the departmental inquiry. With a view to share my knowledge and tips related to departmental inquiry, I have designed and developed a training handbook on 'Departmental Inquiry Awareness'. This is a small effort to create awareness on departmental inquiry.

No one should be punished without giving him an opportunity to defend himself and a judicial approach is necessary in the procedures of departmental inquiry. The procedure adopted must not only be fair and reasonable but should also bear a convincing appearance that justice has been done.

Contents of the Training handbook include the following:

# 01 - Preface

# 02 - An introduction on 'Departmental Inquiry Awareness' training

# 03 - General tips

# 04 - Tips for the inquiry officer

# 05 - Summarized procedure for inquiry proceedings (useful for DA and IO)

# 06 - Tips for the presenting officer

# 07 - Tips for the charged employee and the defence representative

# 08 - Legal practitioner as a DR

# 09 - Investigation

# 10 - Short notes and FAQs - The inquiry report, Natural justice in departmental inquiry, Bias in departmental inquiry, When a high court quashed the inquiry report, Useful quarterly magazine, Venue of the inquiry, What action when an employee gets employment by misrepresentation, Can DA differ with the IO findings, Unbecoming conduct, Inquiry conducted by a subordinate to the complainant, Agreeing or disagreeing of DA by the findings of the IO, Mass casual leave by employees, Assistance of an advocate, Perusal of documents/records on receipt of memo/show cause notice, Suspension, Representation by lawyers, Oath in departmental inquiry, Principle of natural justice, Who is competent to hold a departmental inquiry, Personnel officer as presenting officer, Ingredients of a charge sheet, Abusing b an employee, Departmental inquiry against an employee acquitted by a court of law, Labour court power under section 11A, Proposed punishment mentioned in charge sheet, Non-supply of list of witnesses along with charge sheet, Allegations against a superior, Can outsider be IO, Examining the management witness, Plea of victimisation, IO Report, When the CE admits the guilt, Confidence loss upon an employee, Adjournment of an inquiry, Who may be present at the inquiry, Ex-parte inquiry

# 11 - Specimen of documents and records - Inquiry officer communication, Disciplinary proceedings, IO's letter to custodian of documents

# 12 - Post-training test details

If you are interested to see the Preview of the Training Handbook, please send me an email. I will send a copy of the same.

Thanking you,

Keshav Ram Singhal

Email
keshavsinghalajmer@gmail.com
or
krsinghal@rediffmail.com

One more request - Please share this message with friends in your network, so that more people may know about the Training Handbook.





Tuesday, September 15, 2015

INVESTIGATION


INTRODUCTION

An investigation is an action or process of investigating something or someone (may be crime, misconduct, problem, statement, etc.) especially to discover the related facts and the truth. It is a formal or systematic examination, study or research of the case.

Before initiating a departmental inquiry against an employee, management (generally the DA) wishes to confirm the misconduct, its gravity and persons involved, for which an investigation is conducted. Failure to properly investigate any incident in the organization's workplace can be costly. It may be important to investigate a matter to know:
- Who were involved?
- What were the facts? What happened?
- Where happened?
- When happened or committed?
- Why committed or why happened? (System deficiencies may be noticed)
- How committed?

To know the basis facts, it is usually better to investigate.

Step-by-Step Process

Following step-by-step process may be useful:

Step 1 - Determine whether an investigation is necessary. Appropriate authority should decide.

Step 2 - Determine an investigating officer - The person selected as an investigating officer should not be involved in the case. He should be independent. Appropriate authority should issue relevant orders.

Step 3 - Collecting relevant information - The investigating officer should collect relevant documents and information related to the case.

Step 4 - Determine date, time and place of investigation - The investigating officer should take appropriate decision with regard to date, time and place of investigation and inform to concerned persons.

Step 5 - Conduct investigation - Interview individuals with knowledge of facts. Written statements may be asked. A good approach is to ask open-ended questions that invite a person to provide information. Listen carefully to responses, and follow-up with narrower questions. Also ask each person to provide any related documents, if any, they have. Avoid close-ended questions. A better approach to use 5W1H (What, Where, Why, When, Who and How)questions.

Step 6 - Prepare investigation report - The investigating officer should prepare an investigating report containing facts gathered during interviews and written statements and by looking to the relevant documents. Analyze inconsistent or conflicting information and conclude your report with the investigation outcome.

Step 7 - Submit report - The investigating officer should submit the investigation report along with relevant documents to the authority.

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

For Training Handbook on Departmental Inquiry Awareness, Please Click Here

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority

Sunday, March 8, 2015

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION - 20




What will be the effect if the proposed punishment is mentioned in the charge-sheet as issued to an employee?

Mere mentioning of the proposed punishment in the charge-sheet will not cause any prejudice against an employer. On the contrary, a CE under the given circumstances will know the gravity of the misconduct alleged against him.

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority

Friday, March 6, 2015

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION - 19



Under what circumstances a labour court can alter the punishment awareded to an employee by his employer?

Under section 11-A of the Industrial Disputes Act,1947,a labour court (and also tribunal and national tribunal) has the power to alter punishment in those cases where the punishment is so harsh as to suggest victimization.

Section 11A in The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 is as under:
"11A. 4 Powers of Labour Courts, Tribunals and National Tribunals to give appropriate relief in case of discharge or dismissal of workmen.- Where an industrial dispute relating to the discharge or dismissal of a workman has been referred to a Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal for adjudication and, in the course of the adjudication proceedings, the Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal, as the case may be, is satisfied that the order of discharge or dismissal was not justified, it may, by its award, set aside the order of discharge or dismissal and direct reinstatement of the workman on such terms and conditions, if any, as it thinks fit, or give such other relief to the workman including the award of any lesser punishment in lieu of discharge or dismissal as the circumstances of the case may require: Provided that in any proceeding under this section the Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal, as the case may be, shall rely only on the materials on record and shall not take any fresh evidence in relation to the matter.]"

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION - 18



Is there any bar on initiating disciplinary proceedings (departmental inquiry) against an employee who is acquitted by a criminal court?

No. Acquittal of the accused employee in a criminal case is no bar for departmental inquiry or disciplinary proceedings. The degree or standard of proof required for conviction in a criminal prosecution should be such as to put beyond the pale of doubt the guilt of the accused..

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION - 17



Is it essential that a charge-sheet should contain the actual words spoken by an employee for abusing his superior?

No doubt a charge-sheet should be specific and not vague. Where in a charge-sheet it has been stated that the employee has misbehaved and abused his superior in a filthy language, though the exact words of abuses were not extracted, the nature of the word has been indicated by the word 'filthy', it can not be said that the charge is completely unspecific as to the mode, manner and contents of the misconduct.

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority

Sunday, February 22, 2015

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION - 16



What are the essential ingredients of a charge-sheet?

The framing of charge-sheet being the first necessity for departmental inquiry/disciplinary action. A charge-sheet must be precise, specific and must set out all the necessary particulars. There is no prescribed form for a charge-sheet. The object of charge-sheet is to give the employee the exact data of the misconduct committed by him so that he may submit his explanation in his defence. Ordinarily, a charge-sheet would indicate the proposed punishment but there is no hard and fast rule about it. The only requirement of a charge-sheet is that it must be drawn in clear and unambiguous language indicating charges levelled against the employee concerned and all other necessary particulars specifically and precisely.

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority

Thursday, February 12, 2015

LEGAL PRACTITIONER AS A DR



LEGAL PRACTITIONER AS A DR

A departmental inquiry is mostly carried out on the basis of the rules laid down by the management of organizations. The first and the foremost guideline to hold a departmental inquiry is to abide by the principles of 'natural justice'. It is mandatory for the IO to play fair. The IO should always keep in mind that the proceedings should be carried out properly without any arbitrariness. Fair opportunity should be given to both the parties involved in the departmental inquiry. Can an employee demand a representation by a legal practitioner as a matter of right in the departmental inquiry? On a number pf occasions courts persisted that representation is not a matter of right to the employee, however they opined that one must not forget that departmental inquiries which are undertaken are not inquiries in the court of law, and in such inquiries fairly simple questions of fact as to whether certain acts of misconduct were committed by an employee or not is to be considered.



The right to be represented through a legal practitioner can be restricted by statutes, rules, regulations or standing orders in this regard. A reasonable extent of help and guidance must be meted out to the employee when a situation like a departmental inquiry comes up. This is because the employee is (or may be) at a disadvantageous and unequal position in industrial relations. Most often we see entire trade union system is crippled through inter-union rivalries and most employees are not aware of the legal technicalities in such inquiry proceedings. Wherein an inquiry, the charged employee is pitted against a legally trained mind, the refusal to grant him permission to appear through a legal practitioner would amount to denial of a reasonable request and violation of essential principles of natural justice.



There are certain circumstances which may warrant representation by a legal practitioner and if the opportunity is not given to the employee, this would amount to unfair labour practices and violation of natural justice. The circumstances are as follows:
(i) Where the PO is a legally trained personnel
(ii) Where the service rules confer discretion in the IO or DA to permit the charged employee to be represented by a legal practitioner
(iii) Where the facts of the inquiry case are complicated and the gravity of charges are high and the employee is not educated or skilled enough to handle such situation then a legal practitioner may be allowed to defend him.

The right of representation of a charged employee by a legal practitioner is only a small step in ensuing justice and fairness in departmental inquires.

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

For Training Handbook on Departmental Inquiry Awareness, please Click Here

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION - 15





Whether a Personnel Officer,having no law degree can be treated as legally trained person if he is appointed as Presenting Officer?

Legally trained person is a person who has a qualification in law, such as law degree or a professional qualification in law. An officer (including Personnel Officer) having no qualification in law is not a legally trained person.

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION - 14





Who is competent to hold departmental inquiry?

The person to be appointed as IO must be independent and unbiased so that the employee proceeded against may have confidence in him. This is based on two time-hounoured principles of public policy, namely, (i) that no man should be a judge in his own case, and (ii) that justice should not be done but manifestly and undoubtedly seem to be done. In other words, if a person is acting judicially, he should be free from bias, financial or otherwise either in favour or against a party to a dispute. He should not bring himself to a position where bias can be reasonably inferred to exist.

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION - 13




What do the 'principles of natural justice' imply in departmental inquiry?

The basic concept of natural justice so far as departmental inquiries are concerned is that no man should be condemned unheard. He should be informed of the allegations or the basis upon which action detrimental to him is proposed to be taken and he given an opportunity of making his representation or presenting his case in regard to those allegations and consideration of that representation or viewpoint before action detrimental to him is taken.

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Short Note - The Inquiry Report



Whether the Inquiry Officer should provide a copy of the inquiry report to the charged employee?

Before an employee is punished in a departmental inquiry, a copy of the inquiry report should be furnished to the charged employee. In many cases, it was held that not furnishing the report amounts denial of natural justice.

With best wishes,

Keshav Ram Singhal

Abbreviation

IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority