Procedure of Holding Domestic Enquiry/ Departmental Proceedings (Part 1/4)

Domestic Enquiry is an important aspect in labour laws in India in order to prove the allegations brought against any errant employee. Though there is no specific Acts or Rules for conducting domestic enquiry but the primary concern for holding a domestic enquiry is observance of principles of natural justice. The procedures of holding domestic enquiry from the issuance of charge sheet are explained step wise hereunder:

1. Issuance of Charge Sheet

A charge sheet consists of allegations of misconduct, indiscipline, misbehavior, lack of interest in work, negligence etc. on the part of an employee. The main ingredients of charge sheet is facts and allegations which the management wants to establish against the employee committing breach of rules or misconduct in terms of the standing orders or any Act in consistence with fulfillment of the obligation implied in the contact of employment. The management may, before issuance of charge sheet, issue show cause to the employee and seek for explanation of the employee and if the management is not satisfied with the reply to show cause, it may issue charge sheet after framing specific charges.

2. Seeking Explanation to Charge Sheet

Asking the charge sheeted employee to submit his explanation is one of the most important steps in departmental proceedings/ domestic enquiry. It is one of the rights of the charge sheeted employee to submit his explanation in respect of the charges contained in the charge sheet and the management is bound to give such opportunity to the charge sheeted employee to submit his explanation.

3. Evaluation of the Reply of Charge Sheeted Employee

The charge sheeted employee may or may not submit his explanation to the charge sheet. Broadly speaking, if he submits his explanation, he may use the following strategy:

a. The charge sheeted employee may admit the charges in his explanation, show repentance, plead for leniency with assurance that he would never repeat the same act in future;

b. He may refute the charges;

c. He may ask for some more time to give explanation;

d. He may not submit his explanation at all;

If the charge sheeted employee admits the charges and plead for leniency with the assurance not to repeat such misconduct in future, then the management have no obligation to initiate domestic enquiry against the employee and lenient view may be taken by the management with a view to give a scope to the charge sheeted employee to amend himself. The management considering the gravity of the misconduct may take penal action as per the applicable service rules/ standing order of the company or normal rules giving the employee an opportunity to make his representation on the proposed punishment.

However, if the charge sheeted employee refutes charges or does not give any reply after a considerable time, then the management needs to initiate domestic enquiry by sending the notice of enquiry. In case the charge sheeted employee does not give any reply to the charge sheet, the management needs to make sure that the charge sheet has been duly served upon the charge sheeted employee. However, if the employee asks for extension of time to give reply, then the management in view of principle of natural justice needs to give him an opportunity.

In the next post, we will continue further with the issuance of notice of enquiry and procedure of domestic enquiry.

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