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INQUIRY OFFICER (IO)
- At the preliminary hearing, the Inquiry Officer should ask Charged Officer whether he pleads guilty and if he has any defence to make. If the Charged Officer unconditionally pleads guilty, accept the plea and record findings, without proceeding further with the Inquiry.
- Before proceeding for regular hearing, the 10 must obtain, during the course of preliminary hearing itself, a list of the additional documents/ a list of additional witnesses, if so desired, from the Charged Officer, indicating relevancy thereof. He should fix regular hearing only after the additional documents cited by the Charged Officer have been received from the concerned custodian of the documents and copies thereof supplied to the Charged Officer& Prenenting Officer.
- IO. should start regular hearing on the fixed day and should take care that once a regular hearing is started, the case is heard from day-to-day. There should be no adjournment except for unavoidable and adequate reasons to the satisfaction of the Inquiry Officer (IO).
- It is the duty of Inquiry Officer (IO) to see that both the prosecution and defence witnesses understand properly the questions put forth to them and to protect them against any unfair treatment.
- Never rely on any material from personal knowledge having bearing on the facts of the case or extraneous material which has not appeared either in the Articles of Charge' or in the 'Statement of Imputations' or in the evidence adduced in the inquiry and against which the Charged Officer had no opportunity to defend himself.
- Don't be satirical or vicious.
- Never fail to bear in mind the principles of Natural Justice and Reasonable Opportunity in departmental proceedings.
- Don't delegate the function of holding of inquiry to anyone else.
- Never hold inquiry according to your own methods. There is a prescribed procedure to follow.
- The Inquiry Officer (IO) should not allow more than two adjournments in any case during the course of inquiry so that the time limit of six months for departmental inquiries can be observed.
- The Inquiry Officer (IO) can also ask questions to a witness as he thinks fit to bring out the truth and that he has a fair and clear understanding of the whole case.
- Disciplinary proceedings should not be stayed except under orders of a Court of Competent jurisdiction or under the written orders of the DA.
- The Inquiry Officer (IO) will maintain a daily order sheet to record in brief the business.
- Remember that the Charged Officer can't be forced to give evidence. But if he offers himself, as his own witness, he can be examined by the Defence Assistant/ himself and cross-examined by Presenting Officer.
- Irrespective of Charged Officer having offered himself as a witness or not, the 10 shall generally examine him to enable him to explain any circumstances appearing against him.
- Remember that your power to pass orders on objections/points raised during the course of the inquiry is absolute as there is no right of appeal against it. Be judicious in rendering decisions and record reasons thereof.
- Though Rules provide for hearing of both Prosecution and Defence at the end of regular hearings, it would be preferable to call for written briefs from them so that you do not omit to discuss/analyze any relevant point brought out by them.
- Do not continue with the proceedings (it has to be stayed) if a representation of the charged employee or the Presenting Officer alleging bias against the 10 or their application against the appointment of a particular 10 is pending consideration.
- Do not postpone Preliminary Hearing (PH) simply because the Charged Officer could not arrange his Defence Assistant.
- Do not call for the documents or examine a witness to decide the question of their relevance.
- Do not throw responsibility of calling defence/prosecution witnesses on the Charged Officer/the Presenting Officer.
- Do not proceed exparte, if the charge-sheet has not been delivered to the Charged Officer.
- Do not allow presence of the Defence Assistant when the Charged Officer is appearing as his own witness or when he is answering the mandatory questions, towards the close of inquiry.
- Do not go for local inspection of the site of the incident except when accompanied by the Charged Officer and the Presenting Officer. Better, make a local inspection after the prosecution evidence has been recorded.
- Your finding must be based only on evidence (Oral and Documentary) adduced during the inquiry. Reliance should be placed only on the facts, which have come through evidence, which the Charged Officer had opportunity to refute, examine or rebut.
- While analyzing the evidence, be meticulous in your scrutiny and be objective and judicious.
- Draw conclusions as a rational and prudent person would be doing after considering the total evidence, also noting, who said it when and in what circumstances, whether what was said or done was consistent with the normal probability of human behaviour.
- Remember that after signing the report, 10 becomes functus officio and cannot make any change in his report.
- Do indicate in the Inquiry Report the relation between the imputations, evidence and conclusions after considering each article of charge separately.
- If Inquiry Officer (IO) is of the opinion that any misconduct, different from the original 'Articles of Charge', has been established in the proceedings of the inquiry, he may record his findings on such misconduct, provided the Charged Officer had admitted the facts on which such misconduct is based or had an opportunity of rebutting them.
- Do not collect information at site from persons who have not been cited as witnesses.
- Don't take into consideration the written brief of the Presenting Officer if filed after the expiry of the due date and receipt of his written brief by the Charged Officer . If you do not wish to exclude it from consideration, you have to send a copy thereof to the Charged Officer /Presenting Officer for an opportunity to file a rejoinder.
- Do not take into consideration any matter or evidence, which was not adduced during the course of inquiry.
- No importance should ever be given to surmises, conjectures, whims or your personal knowledge of the matter, which is otherwise, not on record.
- Do not allow any additional witness(es) where there is an inherent lacuna or defect in the evidence originally produced. Be careful in the exercise of this discretion.
- Never delay submission of your report of the departmental inquiry, not beyond six months, as per the latest instruction of the Chief Vigilance Commission.
- Any public servant may be requested by the Inquiry Officer (IO) to dispose in a case. Non-compliance can be treated as conduct unbecoming of a public servant.
- Always conduct the hearing fairly and firmly by providing all necessary opportunity to the Charged Officer to put up his defence adequately, but at the same time, reject all unreasonable demands or dilatory tactics.
- Do allow the Charged Official, in exparte proceedings, to participate at any stage, if he insists (desires) for the same and the case of the prosecution is not yet closed. Your conclusion should be logical and should clearly bring out whether an article of charge stands proved, partially proved or not proved. Your findings should be able to stand judicial scrutiny. In partly heard inquiries, you can proceed from the stage left by your predecessor or hear the case do novo.
- Do not go beyond the 'Model Time Limit Schedule' issued by the Chief Vigilance Commission.