This article is written by Kajal Arora. The article delves into the intricacies of domestic enquiry in accordance with the framework of the Indian labour law. The article further explores various procedures and key concepts associated with the domestic enquiries, while also analysing basic principles followed while conducting domestic enquiry.  

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Domestic enquiry is initiated against the person who does something wrong while they are at their workplace. It forms a crucial aspect of the labour laws, as it provides for a mechanism that helps to resolve disputes that arise in the workplace. This enquiry is an internal enquiry conducted usually by the employer to address the issues that arise in the course of employment. Failure to hold a domestic enquiry in such cases of misconduct or indiscipline is considered to be a blatant violation of natural justice and the constitution. The domestic enquiry holds the delicate balance between the employer and employee’s rights. Rooted in the principles of due process, domestic enquiry is crucial for a safe workplace. This article seeks to understand the intricacies of domestic enquiry, its purpose, principles involved, procedure, legal framework and recent cases on the subject. 

Meaning of domestic enquiry in Labour Law 

The process of ‘enquiry’ is understood as an investigation or an examination conducted specifically for a matter and ‘domestic’ refers to something within an existent entity. Thus, a conjoint reading of the two words signify that the term means an internal enquiry that takes place within a company or an organisation involving some breach of company’s rules or policies. 

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The key features of the domestic enquiry include adherence to the principles of natural justice. Other than that, the enquiry initiates with the formation of the enquiry committee and ends with disciplinary action on the employee or no action at all. In the decision of Provincial Transport Services v. State Industrial Court (1963), the Apex Court clarified that domestic enquiries are mandatory and dismissing the employee without conducting a fair and just domestic enquiry is against the principles of natural justice.

It cannot be denied that domestic enquiry holds cardinal value in the realm of employment and industrial relations. The reason for the same is that through the internal investigation, the issues of misconduct within the employee’s workspace are resolved. This mechanism of domestic enquiry provides fairness and justice to the accused employee, while also upholding the basic tenets of natural justice. Further, they help foster a work culture that is healthy and efficacious. 

Objective of domestic enquiry in Labour Law

Needless to state that the aim of conducting a domestic enquiry is that the allegations so levelled against the accused employee will be investigated. This enquiry helps to establish the truth of the matter. It is only through the enquiry that the investigation into the allegation is made and if found to be true, disciplinary action would be taken on that based on the severity of the alleged conduct. The domestic enquiry serves the purpose of upholding the principles of natural justice and building a safer and contributive work environment. In short, the following are the objectives to be achieved from domestic enquiry:

  • Protecting the rights of employees 
  • Fair and unbiased forum for investigation
  • Evaluation of case based on merit
  • Adherence to due process
  • Timely and effective dispute resolution
  • Promoting feeling of safety in workplace
  • Prevention of discriminatory practices by employer

Evolution of domestic enquiry in Labour Law

The concept of domestic enquiry is not something new. It has been present in the Indian system even when there was no regulatory framework to deal with it. In the pre-industrialization era, there was a significant power imbalance between the employer and employee relations.  It further led to the emergence of the labour movement with active advocacy for the rights of employees, which developed the need for its framework. The current domestic enquiry system was based on the labour laws of the early 20th century. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 plays a pivotal role in establishing the comprehensive system of domestic enquiries. The act recognized the significance of fair and just procedures while dealing with disciplinary matters.

Legal framework governing domestic enquiry in Labour Law

The primary legal framework that deals with domestic enquiries includes the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.

Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946

It must be noted that the Industrial Disputes Act does not specifically provide for domestic enquiry, but the rules concerning the same have been framed under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. This Act is made applicable only for large workplaces where there are more than 50 workmen employed, and smaller establishments are not covered by this Act. The schedule of the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 provides for matters in which standing orders can be passed under the Act. The ninth entry to the schedule states that matters concerning suspension or dismissal for misconduct and acts or omissions that constitute misconduct. Furthermore, Entry 17 of the Schedule IA of the Standing Orders Rules, 1946 makes the employer liable if there is default in proper and faithful observance of the standing orders.

Industrial Dispute Act, 1947

Though Industrial Dispute Act does not specifically provide for domestic enquiry, it does entail that a person has right to get remedy if he has been dismissed from service without proper enquiry.  Section 11A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 states the powers to the labour courts and tribunals to give appropriate relief in case a workman is discharged or dismissed from service. In reference to the same, the Supreme Court in the decision of Workmen of M/s Firestone Tyre and Rubber Co. of India v. Management and Ors. (1973) had the opportunity of explaining the Section. The facts were such that the respondent company made tyres in Bombay and distributed them in Delhi. The employees were in conflict with the employer on firing one of the employees. In this case, the Supreme Court has held that “if a domestic enquiry has been held and a finding of misconduct is recorded, the authorities under the Act have full power and jurisdiction to reappraise the evidence and to satisfy themselves whether the evidence justifies the finding of misconduct. But where the enquiry is found to be defective, the employer can lead evidence to prove misconduct before the authority.”

Constitution of India, 1949

Not only that, but the Constitution of India, by the virtue of Article 311(2) provides that no person can be dismissed or removed from his employment unless an enquiry is held, he is informed of the charge levelled against him, and he is given an opportunity to defend himself. However, it must be noted that the provision is applicable for enquiries in the course of employment in general and not for the domestic enquiry alone. 

Are provisions of the Evidence Act applicable on domestic enquiry?

Another important thing to be considered is that the rules of the Indian Evidence Act , 1872 have no application to domestic enquiry. Section 1 of the Evidence Act states the extent of the Act. It states that the Act is applicable only on judicial proceedings in or before any Court, and it is a settled law that the domestic enquiry is not a judicial proceeding, thereby ruling out the applicability of the Evidence Act. It was also reiterated in the decision of State of Haryana v. Rattan Singh (1977) that the rules of evidence do not apply for domestic enquiries. 

Principles of natural justice followed in domestic enquiries in Labour Law

While procedural laws such as the Code of Criminal Procedure (1973) or Civil Procedure Code (1908) are applicable to trials or civil disputes, in case of domestic enquiries, the principles of natural justice become the guiding light. The following principles of natural justice are required to be complied with in case of a domestic enquiry:

  • The right to fair hearing to both the parties;
  • The rule against bias;
  • Giving of reasonable notice to the accused;
  • Acting fairly and not arbitrarily.

The right to fair hearing implies that the accused employee would also get proper opportunity to present his case, give relevant evidence, cross-examine witnesses and be heard by an impartial and unbiased authority. The maxim audi alteram partem which literally means to ‘hear the other party’ relates to this principle of fair hearing. The rule against bias requires that the enquiry so conducted should be impartial and free from any bias. 

People involved in the process should not only be impartial, but also appear to be impartial. The maxim of nemo in propria causa judex, esse debet stands for this principle and literally means that no one should be a judge in his own case. Strictly applying these principles goes on a long way to ensure that the proceedings conducted against the employee are fair and transparent. 

In the case of Ghatge and Patil Transport Private Ltd. v. BK Patel and Ors. [II LLJ Bom. HC 121(1984)], the Bombay High Court in this case ruled that the principle of natural justice has to be followed in domestic enquiry. Further, the domestic enquiry should be fair and impartial. Thus, disallowing a request on the behalf of the accused employee to appear through a legal practitioner is illegal.

Unfair trade practices

The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 under its Chapter V-C prohibits any ‘unfair labour practices’ and also imposes penalty for the same of six months imprisonment or one thousand rupees fine or both. The term ‘Unfair Labour Practice’ has been defined under Section 2(ra) as the practices that are mentioned in the Fifth Schedule of the Act. As per the Entry 5(f) of the Fifth Schedule of this Act, if a workman is dismissed or discharged from his employment in “utter disregard of the principles of natural justice in the conduct of domestic enquiry or with in undue haste” also constitutes an ‘unfair labour practice’.
It means that the principle of natural justice must be taken into consideration while deciding upon the case of misconduct through internal enquiry. If any of the principles is violated in the course of enquiry, it would amount to unfair labour practice by the employer. 

Procedure for domestic enquiry in Labour Law

A domestic enquiry is quite similar to a court trial, only with a few variations. As mentioned before, domestic enquiry happens when an employee does something wrong. The enquiry is not conducted by the judicial officers of the court of law, but by the employer or committee set up for that particular purpose. So, the major variation between a domestic enquiry and court trial is that it does not happen in a “court of law” and is not conducted by “judges”. The procedure followed in a domestic enquiry is as follows:

Preliminary enquiry

The first step of the domestic enquiry is conducting a preliminary enquiry against the employee. This enquiry is not detailed and is only limited to the facts. The aim of this enquiry is to find out if there is material substantial enough to establish a case against the employee or not. If there is enough evidence, only then the next step of the process is pursued, otherwise, the proceedings are dropped there and then. If the charges are false and frivolous, then the preliminary enquiry may be useful and prove that there are no good reasons to continue the investigation. The concept was well explained in the decision of Amulya Ratan Mukherjee v. Deputy Chief Mechanical Engineer (1960), that preliminary enquiry is a fact-finding enquiry that is not at all formal. It can be an ex parte investigation only so that the real facts of the case are decoded.

Charge sheet

In the next stage of the process, there is a charge sheet filed against the employee that specifies the allegations levelled against him, after which the employee is given an opportunity to give his defence. This is, undoubtedly, the most crucial stage of the whole enquiry, as it establishes the grounds on the basis of which the employee is charged. The charge sheet plays an important role for the accused as well as it is in this stage that he gets to know about the accusations levelled against him and only then he can prepare for his defence. It is for this reason that charges need to be clear and precise; they must stem from strong evidence and not mere suspicions or hearsay. It should not only mention the misconduct alleged, but also state the requisite details of the same, such as the date and time of its commission. The terminology used in the charge sheet must be similar to that of the standing orders so that the employee can understand the meaning of the charge and proceed accordingly. In one of the cases titled Powari Tea Estates v. Barkataki (1964), the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the charge must be framed in such a manner that it does not create a wrongful apprehension in the mind of the accused in regard to his guilt. It must only state about the misconduct alleged. Not only that, the charge sheet must be signed by the competent authority to gits value. 

The charge sheet must include the following information:

  • Name of the employee accused of the misconduct;
  • The employee number;
  • The address of employee; 
  • The allegation of the misconduct;
  • Date, time, and place of occurrence of misconduct;
  • The relevant Section and clauses under the Standing orders;
  • Explanation of the same; and
  • if there is a written report in the matter, then the report also must be attached.

If the employee is to be suspended pending the enquiry of the offence, the charge sheet must also mention that “taking in consideration the severity and the gravity of the accusation, the employee is to be suspended” for a certain period of time. In the case titled Sur Enamel and Stampingworks Ltd. v. Their Workmen (1963), the Supreme Court stated that an enquiry can be held to be proper only when it fulfils the following requirements:

  • The accused is properly informed of the charges levelled against him.
  • The witnesses are examined in his presence.
  • He is given a fair chance to conduct cross-examination of all the witnesses.
  • The final report of the committee or the enquiry officer is reasoned.

Service of the charge sheet

Once the charge sheet is prepared, it must be delivered to the employee and evidence of its delivery also must be recorded. To make the service of the charge sheet valid, there must be two witnesses at the time of the service. In case, the accused employee refuses to take the delivery of the charge sheet, then the same must be sent to their last known address.

Response to the charge sheet

After the accused employee receives the charge sheet, he is supposed to give his defence against the charges levelled. The employee may either admit all the allegations or deny them. He can also choose not to give an explanation for the allegations. In the case of TATA Engineering and Locomotive Company (1960) v. Labour Court, Jamshedpur, the Patna High Court has discussed that in case the accused employee wishes to deny the allegations made against him in the charge sheet, then the burden of proving that the allegations are false lies on him only.

Enquiry committee

Depending upon the defence of the employee, the employer then sets up an enquiry committee to conduct the domestic enquiry. The committee so setup must be impartial and unbiased. If a person has any personal connection with the complainant or the accused employee, or who is an interested party, or who has issued the charge sheet, or who is willing to be a witness in the enquiry, should not be a member of the enquiry committee. The enquiry can be conducted against a person individually or for more than one employee if their accusation is common. Before initiating the enquiry, it is crucial to confirm that the accused understands the accusation made and if he pleads or does not plead guilty against it. It must be remembered that there is no rigid way of conducting the enquiry. The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 has no application here, but only the rules of natural justice are made applicable.

Role of the enquiry officer/ enquiry committee

This enquiry committee or the enquiry officer is responsible for gathering all relevant evidence, conducting examination of all the witnesses and admitting necessary documents etc. The committee or the officer so appointed must be fair, honest and impartial. They need not follow any rules of procedure, but must adhere to the principles of natural justice. They play the role of judge in the process and have a lot of power. After the committee submits its findings, the accused employee is also given the opportunity to present his case, rebut the findings of the committee and lead relevant evidence. It is the responsibility of the committee or the officer to ensure that there is information on all necessary points before a decision is finally made. They should conduct examinations of all the witnesses properly. Not only that, the committee must be liberal and considerate as well. They should not ask demeaning or scandalous questions. They should not behave in a biased manner. The enquiry must be completed as expeditiously as possible. To ensure that the enquiry is finished as soon as possible, the committee should do the following-

  • Decide on the first date of hearing and convey the same to the employee concerned.
  • Allow people who are required for the procedure such as the delinquent employee himself, the presiding officer, representative of the employee or any concerned witnesses in the proceedings.
  • Not to allow any unnecessary adjournments.
  • Ensure that the employee is present during all the stages of enquiry.
  • Confirm that the charge sheet has been received.
  • Read and explain the charges to the accused employee and ask if he wishes to plead guilty.
  • Also ensure that the representative of the employee is representative of the registered union and no other lawyer represents them.
  • If he is not available then another lawyer may be the representative of the employee but only with the permission of the disciplinary authority.
  • Conduct timely examination and cross-examination.
  • Once all the examinations are over, record it and sign it by all those who are present there.

Though the role of the enquiry committee or the enquiry officer is substantial, they do not have the power to order payment of any subsistence allowance, salary, incentive, perks etc. They cannot order the transfer of the employee, or punish him; neither can they order his suspension nor termination.

Thereafter, based upon all the evidence and relevant factors, the committee submits their report to the employer to make a final decision as to the disciplinary action  needed to be taken against the employee. They should properly analyse whether the charge against the accused is proved or not. If it is not supported by cogent evidence, then no further action should be taken. The order issued by the enquiry committee should be clear and explanatory.

The charge sheet, the evidence, record of the enquiry and the finding all must be submitted to the disciplinary authority. Once the order is made, then the disciplinary action against the employee is taken. It simply refers to actions taken by the employer against the employee to redress the issues arising. It may include warning issued to the employee, performance improvement strategies, fine, withholding, or reduction of salary for a certain time period, loss of privileges, suspension, demotion or even, termination etc. 

Domestic enquiry in Labour Law when guilt is admitted 

However, there also may be cases where the accused employee admits his guilt in regard to the accusation against him. Certainly, his admission of guilt simplifies the process to a great extent and also expedites the disciplinary process. However, even when the guilt is admitted, the principles of natural justice should be scrupulously followed till the conclusion of the enquiry. It must be noted that no doubt, admission of guilt does expedite the process, but it is not always true in each case and may even lead to failure of justice. So, it is essential that the admission of guilt is analysed in great detail before any disciplinary action is taken against the employee. The Supreme Court held in the case of Channabasappa Basappa v. State of Mysore (1970) that admission of the facts of the case would amount to a valid admission of guilt.

In the decision of Central Bank of India v. Karunamoy Banerjee (1967), the Apex Court elaborated that rules of natural justice must be followed in domestic enquiry. Generally, the burden of proving the truth of allegations is on the management that makes the accusation, but where the accused employee admits his guilt, then to ask for evidence would be an empty formality. So, if an employee admits guilt, then there is not any necessity for domestic enquiry. In another case titled Natavarbhai S. Makwana v. Union Bank of India (1984), the Gujarat High Court states that even when the employee admits his guilt, the misconduct has to be established. The admission gains any relevance only when the misconduct has been proved.

Essentials for admissions of guilt

In order to ensure that the admission of guilt does not lead to an unfair disciplinary action against the employee, it must fulfil these essentials:

  • It should be a voluntary admission of guilt and must not be forced, coerced from the employee.
  • It should also be unequivocal admission, meaning thereby that it must be clear and certain acknowledgement of guilt and should not be vague and ambiguous. The Apex Court had held in the case of Jagdish Prasad Saxena v. State of Madhya Pradesh (1960) that if the admission of guilt is not clear and unambiguous, then it would be a serious infirmity in the process of domestic enquiry.
  • The employee should be aware of the circumstances of the case and also the ramifications of his guilt. If he is kept in the dark about the true nature of the case, the admission will not hold good.
  • The admission also must be unconditional, as held in the case of ACC Babcock Ltd. v. Bhimsha (1987). The admission would be valid only if it is not dependent on the fulfilment of conditions or reservations. It should be unequivocal admission without any hesitation, conditions and qualifications.
  • Moreover, the recording of the admission must be done in a fair and transparent manner so that the guilt can be verified if need be. As in some cases questions are raised at a later stage, so, if there will be recording of the admission, then it can be used to prove that the admission in question was given without any undue influence, and it was voluntary. 

Payment of subsistence allowance when enquiry is pending  

As per the Section 10A of the Industrial Employment (Standing Order) Act, 1946, in case the employee is suspended then the employer shall pay him subsistence allowance. The term ‘subsistence allowance’ refers to the monetary allowance that is provided by the employer to the employee when he is suspended from his employment while enquiry against him is conducted. The objective of giving subsistence allowance is to help the employee cover his basic living expenses when he is suspended.

The subsistence allowance shall be at the rate of 50% of the wages which the workman was entitled to immediately before the suspension, for the first 90 days of suspension and at the rate of 75% for the remaining period if the delay in completion of the disciplinary proceedings against the workman is not directly linked to the conduct of the accused. If the employee is aggrieved by the order issued by the disciplinary authority, then he can make an appeal to the appellate body against the decision of the disciplinary authority.

Issues in domestic enquiry in Labour Law

Even though there is a well-established legal framework for domestic enquiries in India, there are still a few concerns that may crop up in the domestic enquiries. These proceedings are very time consuming leading to more and more delays in the conclusion of the process and abating the efficiency of the proceedings. Another issue is that of inadequate representation for the employees. In most of the cases, a member of the trade union sits with the employee in the enquiry however, in cases where there are no trade unions or employee groups, their representation might be a bigger deal. The domestic enquiry relies on the principle of rule against bias, but avoiding bias is another challenge. Ensuring that people involved in the domestic enquiry are impartial and unbiased is extremely difficult. 

Difference in domestic and departmental enquiry

Though both of the terms, domestic enquiry and departmental enquiry, are considered to be synonymous, there is a slight difference in both of them. The term ‘domestic enquiry’ is used to refer to the enquiry that is undertaken in companies or organisations against alleged misconduct by an employee. However, the term ‘departmental enquiry’ refers to when an investigation is conducted against a governmental employee.

S. no.

Basis of difference 

Domestic enquiry

Departmental enquiry



It is an internal enquiry conducted by the employer to examine allegations of misconduct or violations to rules or policies of the company.

It is a formal investigation that is conducted by a specific department within the company to examine any issue in relation to conduct or performance of the employee.


Nature of the enquiry

Internal enquiry is conducted by the employer within the company organisation or industry

Internal enquiry is conducted within a department of a company


Decision making

Decisions pertaining to the domestic enquiry are taken by the employer

Decision making lies with the departmental head


Conducted by

An enquiry officer of the enquiry committee appointed for this purpose

Committee exists within the department itself



Wider ambit as covers the entire organisation

Narrow in ambit as it is only limited to the concerned department

Relevant cases

Here are some relevant cases on the topic of domestic enquiry in labour law:

Union of India v. T R Verma (1957)

In the decision of Union of India v. T.R. Varma (1957), the petitioner, challenged his dismissal from service through writ filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. He stated that the evidence Act wasn’t followed in the enquiry, and he was not given reasonable opportunity of being heard. The court firstly decided that writ petitions under Article 226 shouldn’t be entertained when there is an alternative remedy available. The court emphasised that Evidence Act, 1872 has no application to enquiries as it’s not a judicial proceeding. But even though, Evidence Act has no application to domestic enquiry, the court said that the principles of natural justice would still apply. These principles require that the employee against whom a charge sheet has been issued must have the chance of producing relevant evidence, and the evidence of the employer must be taken in his presence. He must have the opportunity of cross-examining the witnesses and whatever evidence is given against him, he must have an opportunity to explain his stance on them before they are considered to be evidence.

Associated Cement Company v. The Workmen (1963)

In this decision, the court discussed the importance of conveying the enquiry to the accused. The facts of the case were such that several workmen were responsible for misconduct at several incidents. They obstructed the workers from entering into the factory, shouted slogans, caused cessation of work, went on a strike and also instigated other workers to resort to violence and disrupted work. So, a domestic enquiry was initiated against all the accused employees and they were dismissed from the service. But, later on it was decided by the tribunal that the enquiries were against the principles of natural justice and so the tribunal reinstated all the workers. So, when the case reached the apex court it was decided that the domestic enquiry was unfair as the accused got no right to be heard and that the workman should be given proper intimation of the date on which the enquiry is to be held so that he gets full time to prepare his defence.

Cooper Engineering Ltd. v. P. P. Mundhe (1975)

In the case of Cooper Engineering Ltd. v. P. P. Mundhe (1975), the workman was faced with the charge for soliciting contributions within the premises of his workplace. He denies the allegations, and thus a domestic enquiry was held. The enquiry officer conducted the enquiry and submitted a brief report, after which the employee was dismissed without proper reasons. In this case, the Supreme Court set aside the domestic enquiry, stating that the fairness of the domestic enquiry is of utmost importance and must be decided as a preliminary issue. As in this particular case, the employee was dismissed without stating a proper reason, such a dismissal was deemed to be against the principle of natural justice. 

Union of India v. Mohd Ramzan Khan (1990)

The Apex Court, in the decision titled Union of India v. Mohd Ramzan Khan (1990), held that every accused employee has a right to be represented against the finding made by the enquiry committee to the disciplinary authority. In this case, a question arose if the amendment to Article 311 of the Constitution impacted the delinquent employee’s right to receive a copy of the enquiry report. The court decided that despite the 42nd Constitutional Amendment that eliminated the second stage of enquiry, the employee still had a right to get a copy of the report.

Crescent Dyes and Chemicals Ltd. v. Ram Tripathi (1992)

In the case of Crescent Dyes and Chemicals Ltd. v. Ram Tripathi (1992) the workman was charged for alleged misconduct and thereby dismissed from service. Later on, an inquiry committee was set up. He sought representation from a lawyer in the domestic enquiry however, he was denied the same as the lawyer wasn’t a member of a recognised trade union. Thereafter, an ex parte enquiry was held that led to his dismissal. He filed for appeal against the dismissal. 

The Supreme Court held that the refusal of representation was justified, as the right to representation can be restricted by statutes. The statute here being the industrial disputes act, 1947. The delinquent doesn’t have any inherent right to be represented unless the law provides for it. The principles of natural justice do not extend to a right to be represented by a counsel. Resultantly, the court set aside the decision of the High Court and held the decision of the committee to be valid,


Criminal litigation

It cannot be overstated that the domestic enquiry is essential to the Indian labour law regime, as they make an effort to maintain harmony and cordial relations within an industry and ascertain that the workplace is safe and just for every employee. It reflects the commitment to fairness and due process in our legal system.

Though there is an established legal framework to deal with domestic enquiries, the concept of workplace is evolving regularly, bringing new challenges and a dire need to simplify these procedures. With this continuous evolution, there is a pressing need for reformation in the framework of labour law that guarantees adherence to principles of natural justice and also streamlines domestic enquiries. This endeavour of balancing the need for discipline and fairness in domestic enquiry with the protection of the rights of the workers is like threading a fine needle and must be done scrupulously. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In the context of the Indian labour law, what is the meaning of domestic enquiry?

As per the Indian labour law, a domestic enquiry refers to an internal investigation that is conducted by the employer to investigate into a breach of code of conduct or company’s policies by any of its employees. It is a formal process that aims to evaluate the allegations against the employee and arrive at a finding to take disciplinary action against him.

When and on what grounds can the domestic enquiry be initiated against an employee?

The employer has a right to initiate an enquiry against the employee if he has reasons to believe that the employee has been involved in some misconduct, violation of code of conduct or policies and rules that calls for a disciplinary action. Having a reason to believe is sufficient, he need not have strict proof of the same but only cogent reasons. Having mere suspicion or believing in hearsay is not sufficient.

What role does the employer play in the domestic enquiry?

The employer undoubtedly plays a crucial role in the process, as he is responsible for initiating action and then esnruing that the whole process is fair and transparent and does not violate the rights of employees. He appoints the enquiry officer or the enquiry committee and assures that the investigation is impartial. 

Does the employee have a right to legal representation? 

Yes, the employee has an absolute right to be represented. Generally, he is represented by a representative of the trade union but in exceptional cases, he can even get a lawyer of his own choice but this must be done with permission of disciplinary authority.

Is the process bound by Code of Civil Procedure, Code of Criminal Procedure or Indian Evidence Act? If not, then what are the rules governing the process?

No, a domestic enquiry is not in the nature of a judicial proceeding and hence procedural laws and evidence law has no application in the proceeding. Rather, it is governed by the principles of natural justice.

What actions can the employer take against the employee after the domestic enquiry?

Based on the findings of the enquiry, the employer can issue him warnings, impose fine on the employee, suspend or terminate his employment. The action taken must be proportionate to the misconduct alleged and proved.

In what time period should the enquiry be completed?

There is no specific time period for which the domestic enquiry must be completed. But, the rules of natural justice expect that the enquiry is completed as soon as possible, without any unnecessary delays.

What rights does the employee have in the domestic enquiry?

The domestic enquiry is conducted in such a manner that the rights of the employee are not infringed. He has a right to be heard, right to be informed of the charges against him, right to be represented, right to present his defence, cross-examine the witnesses, and the right to have an impartial and fair enquiry.

What recourse does the employee have if they think that the domestic enquiry was unfair or unjust?

If the employee believed that the domestic enquiry was not fair and just, then they have the option of appealing the decision within the organisation or even seek legal recourse through labour tribunals and courts.



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