Inquiry Officers
Presenting Officers
Inquiry Officers

ROLES AND FUNCTIONS

The role of Inquiry Officer is to hold an in-depth inquiry with the twin purpose

(i) to bring out correct facts of the case after holding an inquiry in accordance with the prescribed procedure

(ii) to ensure an impartial and fair hearing to the charged official.



Broadly speaking, the Inquiry Officer has to perform the following functions :-

1.To bring on record all documents in support of the charges and those permitted for the defence.
2.To record oral testimony of the prosecution and the defence witnesses after subjecting them to cross-examination by the  opposite party.
3.Generally to examine the Charged Official after the evidence has been recorded. The purpose is to get clarifications from the Charged Official on the evidence against him.
4.To analyse the evidence recorded by him and make correct and proper assessment of the effect of total evidence on record.
5.To write a reasoned report of inquiry giving his pointed findings whether the charges are proved or not proved.

IMPORTANT DO's FOR INQUIRY OFFICER
1.Check up your order of appointment as Inquiry officer.
2.Check up that the following documents have been received along with your order of appointment
 
a.A copy of the articles of charge and the statement of imputations of misconduct Of misbehaviour
b.A copy of the written statement of defence, if any, submitted by the charged official
c.A list of documents by which, and a list of witnesses by whom the articles of charge are proposed to be sustained
d.Copies of the statement of witnesses, (if any) recorded in the course of preliminary enquiry/investigation
e.Evidence proving the service of the charge sheet on the Charged Official.
f.A copy of the order appointing the Presenting Officer
3.Send notices of preliminary hearing in the prescribed form.
4.See that the notices are served in person on the Charged Official or communicated to him and duly acknowledged.
5.At the preliminary hearing, apprise the Charged Official and the Presenting Officer of the procedure of inquiry.
6.Find out if the charged official wishes to admit any of the charges in the Preliminary hearing.
7.Ask the CO whether he requires any Defence Assistant to be nominated.
8.Ask the CO to inspect the listed documents and accept the documents for genuineness.
9.Decide relevance of defence documents and witnesses quickly.
10.Record reasons in the Daily Order Sheet for disallowing the defence documents/witnesses.
11.Send requisition for the additional documents to the authority to whom the documents belong.
12.If necessary, have a second preliminary hearing for the purpose of reducing the number of witnesses and documents in consultation with the Presenting Officer and the CO. This could cut out a lot of delay at a later stage.
13.Open a Daily Order Sheet and record the daily transaction of business therein, and signed the same, the signature of Charged  officer and Presenting Officer be also be obtained and a copy be provided to them.
14.Send notices to witnesses in the prescribed form. In the case of witnesses who are public servants, requests should be sent to the Head of the Department/office to ensure the attendance of the witnesses concerned.
15.Notice to private witnesses may be sent direct or through the Presenting Officer/Charged Official.
16.Hold regular hearing on day-to-day basis without avoidable loss of time.
17.Send intimation to the controlling authority about the officer selected by the Charged Official his Defence Assistant.
18.Obtain certificate from the Defence Assistant that he is having not more than three cases in hand in which he is rendering defence assistance.
19.Reject all requests for adjournments etc. which appear to be meant to obstruct or delay the proceedings, but always record reasons for such rejections, in the Daily Order Sheet.
20.Before regular hearing commences, obtain certificate of inspection of documents from the charged official.
21.Record the questions disallowed by you during the cross examination.
22.Depositions of the witness(es) should be recorded during the enquiry and the signatures obtained thereon.
23.After the case of the disciplinary authority is closed, you should require the Charged Official to state his defence orally or in writing, as he may prefer. If the defence is made orally, record it and ask the charged official to sign the record. Give a copy of the statement of defence to the Presenting Officer.
24.If the Charged Official has not offered himself as a witness, you must question him generally on the circumstances appearing against him at the end of the prosecution case.
25.The deposition of each witness should be recorded on a separate sheet under your dictation and you should record a certificate at the end of each deposition as follows : "Read over to the witness in the presence of the Charged Official and admitted correct / objection of witness recorded."
26.Reject any request for permission to introduce new evidence or recall any witness merely to fill up any gap in the evidence.
27.Allow the charged employee to respond to the written brief of the Presenting Officer within a reasonable period, say within 07 days.
28.Submit your report of inquiry to the Disciplinary Authority along with all original records within a reasonable period.

IMPORTANT DON'TS FOR INQUIRY OFFICERS

Do not:-
1.Proceed with the inquiry if you have any personal interest whatsoever in it. If you yourself feel that you have a bias either way, return the inquiry to the Disciplinary Authority explaining your position.
2.Summon witnesses merely to prove formal documents whose genuineness and authenticity are admitted by the Charged Official.
3.Give publicity since departmental proceedings are in the nature of a domestic inquiry.
4.Continue with the proceedings if a representation of the Charged Official alleging bias against the Inquiry Officer is pending consideration.
5.Postpone preliminary hearing simply because the Charged Official could not arrange defence assistance.
6.Call for the documents or examine a witness to decide the question of their relevance.
7.Requisition of the additional documents from the Disciplinary Authority. You have to write direct to the authority in whose custody or possession these documents lie.
8.Throw the responsibility of calling defence witnesses on the Charged Official.
9.Allow any request from the Charged Official for supply of copies of voluminous documents (He is, however, free to take extracts).
10.Summon the following documents :
 
a.Report of preliminary enquiry/investigation
b.File dealing with the disciplinary case against the Charged Official
c.Advice of the CVC/Ministry
11.Consult others behind the back of the Charged Official.
12.Look into unspecified record.
13.Allow the Presenting Officer to insist that the witnesses should be examined in the same order in which they have been listed in the charge-sheet.
14.Allow leading questions, except in cross-examination. Put leading questions to the witnesses, yourself.
15.Allow adjournments on flimsy grounds.
16.Allow 'New evidence' to fill up gaps. It should be allowed if there is an inherent lacuna in the evidence already recorded.
17.Allow the Presenting Officer to introduce any new point during the examination of a witness unless he has convinced you of its necessity and taken prior permission.
18.Put any question yourself to a witness or the Charged Official from your personal knowledge.
19.Allow the conduct of the witness to be the subject matter of examination or cross-examination.
20.Admit evidence recorded in an earlier inquiry in the subsequent inquiry (in exceptional cases, however, for reasons to be recorded, the evidence tendered in earlier proceedings may be taken on record).
21.Allow defence assistance when the charged employee is appearing as a defence witness or when he is answering the mandatory questions, towards the close of inquiry.
22.Examine a co-accused in a common proceedings as a witness against the other co-accused, unless he opts to examine himself.
23.Allow cross-examination of a defence witness by the other charged officials in a joint trial. Only presenting officer can cross examine a defence witness.
24.Go in for local inspection of the site of the incident except when accompanied by the charged officials and the presenting officer.
25.Supply copy of the written brief of the Charged Official to the presenting officer.
26.Be bound by the rigid limitations regarding the admissibility of evidence and the degree of proof applicable to criminal proceedings.
27.Import anything extraneous into your report but confine yourself to the facts in issue, as brought out in evidence.
28.Recommend the penalty to be imposed in your Inquiry Report.


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Last Updated : 23 Mar,2014