This article is written by Sunil Yadav, a student of CNLU, explaining the guidelines and procedure of inquiry in case of misconduct by government employees in India.
Government employee holds a certain responsibility, which comes with their post; they have to adhere with a certain kind of standard of conduct at both in official responsibility, as well as private capacity. Government employee holds a responsibility towards the public as well as government. To enforce this, there are certain rules and regulations laid down by different acts, which describes the responsibility of civil servants and one of the major guidelines is Central Civil Service Conduct (Rules) 1964.
Central Civil Service Conduct Rules
Central Civil Service Conduct and rules was notified on 30th November 1964 and the rule came into effect from the same day of notification. The CCS conduct rules apply to every person appointed to Central civil service or post including civilians in defense of service. The rules don’t apply to railway servant and the person holding a post in the railway board or of the financial commission of railways.
CCS (Central civil service Conduct) rules also don’t apply to Member of the All India Services and holder of any post of which president has, by general or special order, directed that these rules shall not apply.
There is a total of 25 rules mentioned in this Act, the civil servant can be subjected to inquiry on violation of any of the rules mentioned in the Act. The most vital rules which must be followed by civil servants in the process of discharging their duty.
- Maintain absolute integrity, integrity here refers to honesty, efficiency and good behavior of the civil If he fails to satiate any of them, departmental action can be taken against him on the charges of lack of integrity.
- Devotion to duty which means if civil servant habitually fails to perform the task assigned to him on a regular basis, an inquiry can be set on him.
- Conduct unbecoming of a government servant, civil servant should conform to the ordinary norms of decency and morality, should not violate laws of the land, perform his official dealings promptly and actions in courteous manner. The test of determining the conduct is left to the discretion of the government, and the test will be objective not subjective. Actions can be taken for the ‘past misconduct’ committed by government servant.
- Prohibition of sexual harassment of working women, civil servants should not get indulge in sexual harassment of women colleague. Sexual harassment is defined in rule 3-C which includes (1) physical contact and advances (2) demanding sexual pleasures (3) passing sexually coloured remarks (4) showing pornography and (5) any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.
- Employment of near relatives of Government servants in companies or firms, this means a civil servants near relative should not be employed with firms or companies with which he is dealing in his official capacity.
- Involvement in strike, picketing, Gherao (wrongful restraint, confinement or trespass)
- Connection with Press or Media and Criticism of Government or sharing information which is confidential and cannot be shared.
- Consumption of intoxicated drinks and drugs during office hours or coming to office after consuming it.
- Action against civil servant can be taken if he is convicted on criminal charges by court.
- Involvement of civil servant in infidelity, fraud, trustworthiness will amount to misconduct in duty on his part.
- Habitual late attendance, absence without leave, non-performance of contract and disorderly behavior during office hour.
Disciplinary Proceeding: Overview of Process
What constitutes complaint?
According to the definition of vigilance, the receipt of information about corruption, malpractice or misconduct on the part of the public servant, from whatever source, would be termed as complaint.
What is the first action on receipt of the complaint?
The first action is to check whether it has got vigilance angle or not. If yes, then it will be entered into the appropriate part of the register prescribed by vigilance manual. Vigilance angle includes obtaining illegal gratification like obtaining money from corrupt means, abusing official position, possession of disproportionate assets, forgery, cheating, and other criminal cases including the different rules prescribed.
The registers are classified into two types namely into A listed officers and B listed officers, to move forward against the complaints of a listed officers a recommendation from CVC(Central Vigilance Commission) is required , but for B listed officer no such recommendation is required. In a situation when officers of both categories are required the complaint will be maintained in A listed register.
In case of false complaint, if it is found it was done on malicious or vexatious ground, the inquiry will initiated against the false complainant officer, if he is not a government employee charges he will be dealt with the normal proceeding for false complaint on civil servant.
The complaint can be entertained by different method by sending it to the department concerned, if the matter is of grave important it can send to CBI or it can itself entertain by Vigilance commission.
The disciplinary authority is one who is entrusted with authority to impose any penalty on account of misconduct, generally the disciplinary authority is defined with reference to the post held by employee and the definition mentioned in rule 2(g) of CCA rules. There are generally two kind of authority one who can impose major penalty and another who can impose minor kind of penalty.
Mentions of disciplinary authority are clearly done in part XIV of the Constitution which relates to ‘Services the Union and states’, the article 309, 310 and 311 are related with the disciplinary proceedings.
Art-309 –Talks about power given in the provision to the legislature enact laws and to make rules regarding disciplinary activity of public servant. CSS (CCA) rules 1965 are made under this provision.
Art-310-This article is also known as ‘Pleasure Doctrine’ as President can appoint Union civil Government depending upon its pleasure. Pleasure of President can be overridden, only by express provision provided in the constitution not any other else, it also talk about tenure of office of persons serving the union or states.
Art-311-Talks about dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under union or state. The dismissal procedure does not apply to defense personnel under this article. Two essentials features of this article are (1) Government servant be should informed about the charges alleged on them (2) to give them reasonable opportunity to defend them.
Approach of disciplinary authority
The approach of disciplinary authority is clearly mentioned in guidelines of government to the disciplinary authority.
- Advance warning- The disciplinary authority should inform employees about the expected behavior and consequences of bad behavior.
- Consistency- Disciplinary authority should have an even behavior against everybody and should dispose of cases efficiently and accurately in less time.
- Impersonal-This means no nepotism should be done for anyone, or unbiased inquiry and entertainment of cases must be done from disciplinary authority side. In certain cases, good conduct in past career of the employee can be taken into account while giving the judgment in certain specific cases.
- Immediate action-Immediate imposition of the penalty is expected on behalf of the disciplinary committee without any delay, if other procedural steps of inquiry and ordering of penalties has been completed. Immediate message of imposition of penalty must be communicatedd to civil servant eligible to face the penalty.
Process of Imposing penalty by disciplinary authority
The disciplinary authority appointed for Inquiring the cases are generally called Inquiring Officer (I O) or Presenting Officer (PO). The procedure that is followed from entertaining the complaint to the final decision and entertaining appeal in a systematic manner.
- Examination of the complaint and whom to be appointed as investigating authority.
- If there is need to suspend employee, on recommendation of delinquent employees of the department, next step regarding this will be preliminary warning for misconduct, training of employee, or providing counselling to them on certain matter, so that employee can improve and correct himself.
- Next step, in the process will be to consult with the CVC (Central Vigilance Committee) or any other authority if required. The authority should tell whether is need to file a charge sheet on complain of certain charges.
- The Charge sheet can be issued according to the Rule 14(3) of CCS(CCA). Now the next process will be to check whether there is need of oral hearing in case of imposing minor penalty on the civil servant. After that the issue of charge sheet need to be addressed as whether there is a need to conduct inquiry or close matter and impose penalty.
- After all these process, the final order will be passed concerning the complaint against the civil servant.
- After the process of giving final order. In case there is an appeal on the decision from the employee who is subject to inquiry. That appeal should be quickly forwarded to the appellate authority who has got the right to entertain, the appeal cases.
Principles of natural justice
The principles of natural justice has been applied from more than thousand years and over the period the term has expanded and presently the term denotes, basic principles relating to judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative decisions. According to Krishna Iyer principle of natural justice is the ‘Bone of healthy government administration’.
All decisions passed by the disciplinary committee should follow the principles of natural justice:
- Nemo debet esse judex in propria causa (No man should be judge be in his own case)- A man cannot judge his relatives or any person related to him in legal and he cannot be a judge in a case in which he is involved.
- Audi altrem partem (Everyone should be given a right to be heard)- No decision can be taken without hearing both sides, decision must not be given by just hearing one side in the case according to Natural Justice.
- Justice should not be done, but it should appear to be done.
- Final orders must be reasoned speaking order and reason for the decision must be clearly identifiable.
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