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Adoni Suguresh
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Dear Leaders,

Departmental inquiries be completed in 6 months, and latest within 1 year, says Supreme Court

In a recent case decided by the Supreme Court on 16 December 2015, it has been directed that all efforts should be made to conclude the departmental inquiry proceedings against the delinquent employee within six months as an outer limit, and in exceptional cases, due to certain unavoidable causes arising in the proceedings, such inquiry proceedings should be completed in a maximum period which should not be more than a year.

These observations of the Supreme Court came in the case of Prem Nath Bali v. Registrar, High Court of Delhi [Civil Appeal No. 958 OF 2010], wherein the departmental inquiry proceedings against an Upper Division Clerk (UDC) in Patiala House District Court in New Delhi were continued for more than 9 years. He was also placed under suspension for the period of 9 years during the pendency of the inquiry.

The judgment was delivered by a 2-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice J. CHELAMESWAR and Justice ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE.

The Supreme Court held that the suspension period was unduly long and that the delay in completion of the departmental proceedings was not wholly attributable to the delinquent but it was equally attributable to the authorities as well. It was held that due to such unreasonable delay, the delinquent naturally suffered a lot because he and his family had to survive only on suspension allowance for a long period of 9 years.

Supreme Court questioned as to why the departmental proceeding, which involved only one charge and that too uncomplicated, have taken more than 9 years to conclude the departmental inquiry. No justification was forthcoming from the authorities’ side to explain the undue delay in completion of the departmental inquiry except to throw blame on the delinquent’s conduct which was not fully justified.

Supreme Court further observed as under:

“Time and again, this Court has emphasized that it is the duty of the employer to ensure that the departmental inquiry initiated against the delinquent employee is concluded within the shortest possible time by taking priority measures. In cases where the delinquent is placed under suspension during the pendency of such inquiry then it becomes all the more imperative for the employer to ensure that the inquiry is concluded in the shortest possible time to avoid any inconvenience, loss and prejudice to the rights of the delinquent employee.”

The court observed that pursuing the finding in department inquiries in Court further consumes time for its final conclusion. In view of these, the Supreme Court held as under:

“… every employer (whether State or private) must make sincere endeavour to conclude the departmental inquiry proceedings once initiated against the delinquent employee within a reasonable time by giving priority to such proceedings and as far as possible it should be concluded within six months as an outer limit. Where it is not possible for the employer to conclude due to certain unavoidable causes arising in the proceedings within the time frame then efforts should be made to conclude within reasonably extended period depending upon the cause and the nature of inquiry but not more than a year.”

In the present case, the Supreme Court directed that the respondents while calculating the qualifying service of the delinquent for determining his pension should have taken into account the period of suspension for 9 years. The respondents were accordingly directed to re-determine the delinquent’s pension by taking into account the period of suspension (06.02.1990 to 01.03.1999) and then pay to him arrears of the difference amount from the date he became eligible to claim pension and then to continue to pay him re-determined pension regularly in future as per Rules.

Full judgment of the Supreme Court enclosed.

With Thanks and Best Regards



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Time and again such timelines are fixed but unfortunately never get adhered to.
India is a land of too many laws but of poor and selective enforcement and equally of court battles,but things on ground have remained the same.
Unless and until a mental attitudinal change takes place and a sense of integrity pervades the nation laws by itself will not change things on ground.

Dear Mr.Rao,
Your opinion is very much correct and agree with you cent realistic of enforcement of law in our country. Thanks a lot for your opinion,.
Thanking you Sir, once again,
Adoni Suguresh
Labour Laws Consultant

Dear Mr.Nanje Gowda,
Thanks a lot for sharing the Supreme Court Judgement as regards the departmental inquiry in this forum for the information of all the members.
Adoni Suguresh
Labour Laws Consultant

But the part of suspension allowance paid for 9 years should have been considered which shows employers intention to be fair. Where on other hand it was easily possible for employer to terminate employee post departmental inquiry and fight the same matter in court which would have take more than 9 years to complete.
Dear Jack,
Please understand that subsistence allowance is paid for 9 years from Government funds and unfortunately no one bothers.
Departmental heads are supposed to monitor pending disciplinary proceedings and push to complete proceedings.
If departmental heads were proactive question of pending proceedings for 9 years would not arise.
Whatever be the merits of the case,delay for 9 years is no justice at all.hem.
GOI is the biggest litigant in our courts and many of their cases are marked by delays,poor defence and end up loosing the case.

Dear Nanjegowda,
I appreciate your endeavour to apprise the HR world about what the Supreme Court considers about delay in departmental inquiry. Although the appeal is partially allowed to the extent of qualifying service for the purpose of fixation/revision of pension, but it is good that the SC has expressed its concern over the abnormal delay in departmental inquiries, which is a normal feature due to laxity of administrion/ manaagement or the inquiring authorities.
In fact, this aspect is required to be reflected through the departmental inquiry rules.

Thanks for providing SC decision. It will be eye opener for Government organizations who issues charge sheet and then forget it and allow dept enquiry to linger on.
Do we require a SC decision to open our eyes?
If we commence an enquiry,it should be completed in time-quickest time consistent with fair play and justice.
Why do we need Honble SC to advise something which i so basic
Delayed justice is no justice at all.
As administrators and polciy makers we should have a list of pending enquiries and push for clearance at early dates.
Enquiry officer should be called and reminded at frequent intervals if enquiry does not get completed on time.
Departmental heads should be made responsible for completing disciplinary proceedings in time.
Just imagine agony of a chap where chrge sheet is issued and person suspended but proceedings keep going on endlessly.

Dear Shri Nathrao,

Following observtion of yours is quite Appreciative:

"Departmental heads are supposed to monitor pending disciplinary proceedings and push to complete proceedings.

If departmental heads were proactive question of pending proceedings for 9 years would not arise.

Whatever be the merits of the case,delay for 9 years is no justice at all.hem."

But the irony is nobody cares, even when there exists a complete monitoring system from lowest level to the top level of the rank of Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) level, as the Head of the Vigilance Department in all Government Organisations. At the lower, zonal, Circle/ State level monthly statements are prescribed for reporting the progress & status of all the pending disciplinary cases to be monitored at each higher level from one office to the other up to the top. But the statements come and get filed without taking any action, except, sometimes, to ask why delay and just to attract an eyewash lame excuses to be filed again by taking that as true on the face of that. Not only that in the name of vigilance there exists a full fledged and independent statutory organisation, as the topmost authority called "CENTRAL VIGILANCE COMMISSION" (CVC) with all the powers vested upon the commission also. Every month a statement of pending cases goes to the CVC also from the CVO of each department of the Government of India, in which cases with heading more than 2 years appearing in the last column are reported, but without explanation for delay. So, you can understand that only fies are fed with data to be used by the CVC to help make bulky the annual report of the CVC. So, when everyone is interested in filling in the blanks, who cares for cases extending over more than 2 yearsm when no column is provided for looking in to the age of 9 years or even more, as that may cause burdensome additional work for them, if they go deep in to such data and to start investigations and to take action against the big bosses?.Only the employee continues to suffer when proceeded against, more particularly, when revengeful and prejudicial action is initiated by any authority.

So, when the CVC, itself is not proactive, you can very well guess, who bothers to be proactive in Government departments?

So for as delay of 9 years is no justice, all that depended upon the effectiveness of the concerned lawyer. Naturally, he would have not been able to present so effectively the case in the court, as required. Needless to point out, not every lawyer takes so much pain, as is desirable in each of the court cases.

So far SC is concerned, it takes in to consideration, what alredy has been represented in the lower & High Courts, whether it is justice or no justice.

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