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Conclusion of Departmental Inquiry Proceedings
Human Resources » Industrial Law & Discipline


Chrm Message From: arumugam Total Posts: 1 Join Date: 22/12/2015
Rank: Beginner Post Date: 22/12/2015 08:55:14 Points: 5 Location: India
Dear fraternity,
 
In a recent case decided by the Supreme Court on 16 December 2015, it has been directed that all efforts should be made to conclude the departmental inquiry proceedings against the delinquent employee within six months as an outer limit, and in exceptional cases, due to certain unavoidable causes arising in the proceedings, such inquiry proceedings should be completed in a maximum period which should not be more than a year.
 
These observations of the Supreme Court came in the case of Prem Nath Bali v. Registrar, High Court of Delhi [Civil Appeal No. 958 OF 2010], wherein the departmental inquiry proceedings against an Upper Division Clerk (UDC) in Patiala House District Court in New Delhi were continued for more than 9 years. He was also placed under suspension for the period of 9 years during the pendency of the inquiry.
 
The judgment was delivered by a 2-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice J. CHELAMESWAR and Justice ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE.
 
The Supreme Court held that the suspension period was unduly long and that the delay in completion of the departmental proceedings was not wholly attributable to the delinquent but it was equally attributable to the authorities as well. It was held that due to such unreasonable delay, the delinquent naturally suffered a lot because he and his family had to survive only on suspension allowance for a long period of 9 years.
 
Supreme Court questioned as to why the departmental proceeding, which involved only one charge and that too uncomplicated, have taken more than 9 years to conclude the departmental inquiry. No justification was forthcoming from the authorities’ side to explain the undue delay in completion of the departmental inquiry except to throw blame on the delinquent’s conduct which was not fully justified.
 
Supreme Court further observed as under:
 
“Time and again, this Court has emphasized that it is the duty of the employer to ensure that the departmental inquiry initiated against the delinquent employee is concluded within the shortest possible time by taking priority measures. In cases where the delinquent is placed under suspension during the pendency of such inquiry then it becomes all the more imperative for the employer to ensure that the inquiry is concluded in the shortest possible time to avoid any inconvenience, loss and prejudice to the rights of the delinquent employee.”
 
The court observed that pursuing the finding in department inquiries in Court further consumes time for its final conclusion. In view of these, the Supreme Court held as under:
 
“… every employer (whether State or private) must make sincere endeavour to conclude the departmental inquiry proceedings once initiated against the delinquent employee within a reasonable time by giving priority to such proceedings and as far as possible it should be concluded within six months as an outer limit. Where it is not possible for the employer to conclude due to certain unavoidable causes arising in the proceedings within the time frame then efforts should be made to conclude within reasonably extended period depending upon the cause and the nature of inquiry but not more than a year.”
 

In the present case, the Supreme Court directed that the respondents while calculating the qualifying service of the delinquent for determining his pension should have taken into account the period of suspension for 9 years. The respondents were accordingly directed to re-determine the delinquent’s pension by taking into account the period of suspension (06.02.1990 to 01.03.1999) and then pay to him arrears of the difference amount from the date he became eligible to claim pension and then to continue to pay him re-determined pension regularly in future as per Rules. 

Regards,

arumugam