An IO exonerated a CE and found the charge not proved in the inquiry. The DA however while disagreeing by the findings of the IO and held that charge is proved. The DA did not afford any opportunity to the CE by communicating to the CE the copy of inquiry report, along with reasons of disagreement. As the DA held that charge is proved, the DA punished the CE. What are your views in the instance case?
It is not necessary for the DA to always agree with the findings of the IO, however it is required that the DA, which is to finally record an adverse findings, should provide a hearing to the CE. The principle of natural justice would demand that the authority which proposes to decide against the CE must provide him a hearing. In the present case example, the inquiry report is in favour of the CE, but the DA proposes to differ with such conclusions then authority which is deciding against the CE must provide him an opportunity of being heard for otherwise he would be condemned unheard. In departmental inquiry what is of ultimate importance is the findings of the DA. Whenever the DA disagrees with the IO on any article of charge, then before it records its own findings on such charge, it must record its tentative reasons for such disagreement and provide to the CE an opportunity to represent before it records its findings.
If the finding of the DA without providing an opportunity to the CE is challenged before the AA or court of law, it is likely that the AA/court will quash the finding of the DA and provide some relief to the CE.
With best wishes,
Keshav Ram Singhal
IO = Inquiry Officer / Enquiry Officer / Inquiring Authority
PO = Presenting Officer
DR = Defence Representative
CE = Charged Employee / Charged Officer
DA = Disciplinary Authority
AA = Appellate Authority