WHO IS A CHARGED EMPLOYEE?
The Charged Employee also known as Charged Official is the one who has been identified by the Management to be proceeded against departmentally. There is a prima facie case against him for having committed a misconduct. He is the centre of the whole process of Disciplinary Action.
However, it does not mean that he has been declared as guilty unless and until his guilt has been established.
STATEMENT OF DEFENCE
When a Charge Sheet has been served upon the Charged Employee, then he is required to submit his reply to the Charge Sheet. In his reply, he may either admit his guilt in respect of all or few lapses alleged against him or he may deny the lapses alleged against him.
If his reply called Statement of Defence is found satisfactory the Disciplinary Authority may drop the lapses against him. If his reply is not satisfactory or if he has admitted his guilt on any/all of the Charges, the Disciplinary Authority would award him a punishment in accordance with the relevant Discipline & Appeal Regulations of the Bank.
WHAT A CHARGED OFFICIAL SHOULD DO ON RECEIPT OF A CHARGE SHEET OR QUESTIONNAIRE?
The first and foremost thing is to carefully read the Charge Sheet or questionnaire to understand the lapses alleged upon him. Then, all the relevant documents should be examined and only after that reply should be submitted.
If the Charge Sheet received is under Major Penalty Proceedings (i.e. Regulation 6 of Discipline and Appeal Regulations), the Charge Sheeted Employee may either submit a one line reply like – “I deny all the Charges levelled against me” because he will get ample opportunity to defend himself during the course of Departmental Enquiry and later on also. And his reply to the Charge Sheet would be less significant then Enquiry Report or his submissions on the Enquiry Report. There is one more benefit of the short reply – the Presenting Officer would not get any clue from the Statement of Defence and would not be able to shape the case of the management accordingly.
However, he may give a detailed reply on every allegation levelled against him in the Charge Sheet. In a detailed reply, he should first address the charges as per the ‘Statement of Imputation of Lapses’ i.e. Annexure-II of Charge Sheet. He should then address the ‘Articles of Charge’ given in Annexure-I.
In respect of Charge Sheet under Minor Penalty Proceedings (i.e Regulation 8 of Discipline and Appeal Regulations), the Charge Employee must give Charge wise detailed reply after referring to the relevant record. He should also enclose all the documents or Bank’s circulars in support of his contentions with his detailed reply.
RIGHTS OF THE CHARGED OFFICIAL
- The Charge Official has the right to inspect the documents / relevant record of the Bank before submitting his reply / Statement of Defence.
- In the Departmental Enquiry, the Charged Official is entitled to take help of any other employee of the Bank as his Defence Representative or Defence Assistant. An outside person or a legal counsel cannot be a Defence Representative. This right of the Charged Employee is a controlled or restricted right. The Charge Sheeted Employee must be very careful in his selection of Defence Representative. A person with thorough experience of Disciplinary Proceedings as well as of Bank’s relevant guidelines must be selected. The Charge Employee may also refuse to take the assistance of any other employee and decide to defend his case himself.
- The Charged Official has a right to seek an adjournment of Enquiry Proceedings when Examination-in-Chief of Management Witnesses is over to prepare points/questions for Cross Examination.
- The Charged Employee or Defence Representative is entitled to ask leading questions during Cross Examination of Management Witnesses. However, they are not entitled to ask leading questions during Examination-in-Chief of Defence Witnesses.
- The Charged Official or Defence Representative is entitled to ask for re-examination of Defence Witness if in their view he has given a misleading or incorrect statement. The re-examination is done to correct that statement.
- The Charged Official cannot be produced as a witness by the Management side. The Defence side may produce the Charged Official as Defence Witness, however, it may give Presenting Officer an opportunity to ask leading questions from the Charged Official which may weaken the case of the Defence.
- The Enquiry Officer has to mandatorily ask from Charged Employee to give his submissions on the circumstance appearing against him during the Enquiry Proceedings. The Charged Official may submit his contentions on such circumstances or may simply deny making any submissions.
- When the submission of documents and examination of witnesses is over from both (Management and Defence) sides, the Enquiry Officer would ask whether the Management and the Defence side would like to go for Oral Arguments or for Written Briefs, at that time the Charged Officer has the right to exercise his preference. Generally, the submission of Written Briefs is preferred over Oral Arguments. In that case, PO has to first submit his briefs which are to be provided to the defence side to submit their briefs. The time granted to both the parties for submission of their respective briefs is generally 15 days.
- The Disciplinary Authority must send the Enquiry Report to the Charged Employee for his submissions on the Enquiry Report. This is to give effect to the Principles of Natural Justice, that any person should not be prosecuted behind his back i.e. he should be aware of all the things going against him (or in his favour) during the entire process of Disciplinary Action.
- If the Charged Official is not happy with the decision of the Disciplinary Authority, he may appeal against the orders of the Disciplinary Authority within a period of 45 days from the receipt of such orders.
- If the Charged Official is also not happy with the decision of the Appellate Authority, he may seek review of the orders of the Appellate Authority within a period of 45 days from the receipt of such orders. (NOTE: Provision of Review is not available to Workmen Cadre i.e. Sub-Staff and Clerks)