Is a delinquent employee entitled to copy of the enquiry report before any punishment is imposed upon him? If the employee does not get the copy of the enquiry report, then part of reasonable opportunity is lost as held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
Enquiry report is a vital document because basing on such report punishment is awarded. If copy of enquiry report is not provided to the delinquent employee, then it automatically violates the principle of natural justice.
An enquiry officer during the enquiry records evidences, considers documents and finally submits his enquiry report and findings to the disciplinary committee/ management of the company for deciding the quantum of punishment. There is a possibility for various reasons that the enquiry report might contain some findings which are not based on the actual proceedings. In such circumstances, if the copy of the enquiry report is not available with the delinquent employee, then such unknown facts would be considered by the disciplinary committee while deciding the quantum of punishment. The enquiry report might have been prepared by the whim of the enquiry officer without considering the evidence and facts. The delinquent employee needs to know what is in the enquiry report and then give his explanation to such report. Non-supplying of the enquiry report is not recommended since it violates the principle of natural justice which is the basic ingredients of holding any domestic enquiry. However, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Oriental Bank of Commerce vs. S. Balakrishnana has held that mere non-supplying of the enquiry report would not completely vitiate the enquiry. But such act should no way prejudice any delinquent employee.
Observance of principle of natural justice is mandatory while conducting a domestic enquiry. Hence, it is always advisable to supply a copy of the enquiry report to the delinquent employee before imposing minor or major punishment which would save the company from future unnecessary legal complications.