The Enquiry Officer has the powers of a ‘Quasi Judicial Tribunal’ and is more or less like a judge and considered as an agent of the Disciplinary committee. It is his duty to conduct the inquiry in an impartial, unarbitrary, unbiased manner that is in a fair manner with open mind. He shall also not take the roles of the Presenting officer or the defense representative.
The powers of cross examination are not held by the enquiry officer nor to frame any leading questions. The questions shall also not anyway resemble or appear to be in manner of cross examination. They must be direct and not provide any false impression in relation to bending towards or taking side of one of the parties. He can yet ask the questions to clarify himself regarding facts or other evidences but in such interference, the partiality shall not be revealed.
If the employee in anyway misbehave with the enquiry officer or the witness or any other individual involved in the case, leading to hinderance of the smooth conduct of the enquiry, the facts shall be so recorded by the enquiry officer and then he has the discretion to proceed with the enquiry even in the absence of the employee being present post recording such facts.
Functions of Enquiry Officer:
He shall complete the enquiry and submit the records or finding to the disciplinary authority as quick as possible.
The employee shall be acknowledged regarding the first hearing and also advised the evidences, documents or witnesses which could be relied upon to prove the innocence and forward the same to the presiding officers.
The delinquent employee, presiding officer, defense representative if any and just one witness who is to be examined at the time of the hearing must be present in the enquiry proceedings.
The employee must be present in all the proceeding and without the same the enquiry shall not be commenced.
The identity and basic details like the name, age address or contacts of the employee must be ascertained.
The employee must also be provided with copy of charge sheet number and date
The charges mentioned must be read out and whether he admits the same and in multiple charges if one pleaded move to the next
The letter of defense representative must be provided in case the employee doesn’t plead and is being represented. The defense representative must be registered union and if not then a lawyer with permission of the authority. The receipt of advises of lawyer must be stated.
The presenting officer is advised to present the case and proceed with examination in chief and once witness is allowed and cross examined, defense representative may be re- examined by presenting officer.
The similar procedure is followed by the examination in chief towards the defense witness.
The signatures of all are acquired post all witness has been disposed and record in the books.
The presenting officer is advised post hearing all the witness of prosecution and defense to sum up followed by the defense representatives and are also allowed to submit brief in writing but it shall also be provided to defense representative
Advise the Defence Representative that on receipt of Presenting OfficerÕs brief, he should submit his brief.
On receipt of Defence RepresentativeÕs brief, prepare the findings and submit it to the Disciplinary Authority.
The Enquiry Officer should narrate briefly the statement made and the evidence laid before him both in support of and against the charge. He should analyse each charge as to whether it is proved or not. The findings should not suggest any punishment. They should be supported by cogent reasons to be set out clearly in the report. The Charge Sheet, Explanation, and Record of Enquiry and the findings of the Enquiry Officer will have to be submitted to the Disciplinary Authority, for decision. The decision and punishment, if any, shall be communicated in writing to the employee concerned as early as possible.”
Reference: Industrial Establishment (Standing Orders) Act and Rules, 1946 – – AHG346 – 202100585 – 186 – 167- 2021002620210033921