Work out comprehensive plan for training of inquiry officers, UP govt tells departments
The departments have also been asked to ensure that preference in training is given to those already working as inquiry officers
LUCKNOW With norms of natural justice apparently being flouted consistently in departmental inquiries, the state government has decided to carry out a comprehensive training of all inquiry officers.
Various departments appoint inquiry officers to probe charges against officers/employees facing charges of dereliction of duty or irregularities in performing duties assigned to them. The government has asked all departments to work out a comprehensive plan for officers’ training and submit the same to the personnel department by September 15, 2022.
The departments have also been asked to ensure that preference in training is given to those already working as inquiry officers. “You are requested to submit a comprehensive plan for training to maximum number (of inquiry officers) on priority basis,” stated chief secretary Durga Shankar Mishra in an order (dated August 16) sent to all additional chief secretaries, principal secretaries and secretaries.
He suggested that induction training may be in five to six sessions while there may one or two sessions for in-service training of officers.
The state government has already circulated dos and dont’s for inquiry officers and asked additional chief secretaries/principal secretaries and secretaries of different departments to ensure that a copy of these guidelines is made available to all inquiry officers.
The guidelines have been sent to different departments on July 19, 2022.
Inquiry officers have been asked to ensure that officers/employees facing probe are allowed to make inspection of documents, if requested. The personnel facing inquiry should be allowed 15 days to a month’s time to give his/her written explanation and the inquiry officer should allow them to file objections about admissibility of documents.
Appropriate opportunity should be given to the officer/employee facing inquiry to put up his/her case be given. If the personnel denies the charge, the inquiry officer may call witnesses for cross examination, stated the guidelines. The inquiry officer should record the oral submission in the presence of officer facing the charge. The statements of witnesses should also be recorded after administering them oath. The inquiry officer should get the documents (being prepared as part of inquiry) signed by the officer facing inquiry and witnesses, from time to time, as per the guidelines.
The state government also advised officers not to give more than two months for submitting explanations. However, the time limit may be reasonably extended. The inquiry officer should not record or make any recommendation about the intended punishment to be given to the officer facing probe, stated the guidelines.
The state government has referred to the Allahabad high court’s order (dated July 22, 2022) observing: “It is claimed that departmental inquiry is one of the subjects in the training programme of officers. But what we find prima facie is that the training being imparted is not yielding results as required, as still the rules and principles of natural justice are found to be violated. The training programme for such officers has to be more robust and specialised, for which the state is directed to place before the court a comprehensive plan.”
“Conducting an inquiry is considered routine work and thus not rewarded or appreciated. So, the officers conducting inquiry, tend to neglect such kind of duties,” said former IAS officer VS Pandey, when asked to comment on flouting of norms of natural justice in departmental probes.