What is Ex-Parte Inquiry under CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965 ?

What is Ex-Parte Inquiry under CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965 ? 

Ex-Parte Inquiry

Ex-Parte Inquiry

Administrative inquiries are critical for maintaining discipline and integrity within government organizations.

The Central Civil Services (Classification, Control, and Appeal) Rules, 1965 (CCS (CCA) Rules), lay down the framework for conducting disciplinary proceedings against government employees.

Among the various procedures outlined, such one sided inquiries hold a significant place.

Need of Ex-Parte Inquiry ?

An ex-parte inquiry occurs when one party in a legal proceeding appears before the Inquiry Officers, while the other party is absent.

In the context of CCS (CCA) Rules, Ex-parte inquiries typically arise when the charged officer fails to participate or respond to the Investigation Officer.

The employee neither participates nor responds to Disciplinary Authority as well as Inquiry Officer.

Thereafter, Inquiry Officer can proceed with Ex-Parte against the delinquent employee for the alleged misconduct. 

Importance of Ex-Parte Inquiry

Ex-parte inquiry serves as a mechanism to ensure that disciplinary proceedings continue even in the absence of the charged employee.

It upholds the principle of administrative justice by allowing the inquiry to proceed expeditiously without unnecessary delays.

Only Service Matter Advocate in Supreme Court handles such inquiry matters in Supreme Court at Delhi. 

Timely Completion of Disciplinary Proceedings

While ex-parte inquiry offer expediency, they must adhere to procedural fairness.

The rules mandate that the Disciplinary Authority must give adequate notice to charged employee of the charges and the opportunity to present their defense.

Despite the absence of the charged employee, the inquiry officer is obligated to conduct a thorough examination of the evidence presented.

Notice Publication in News Papers

Disciplinary Authority should publish the charge sheet and notice in the local news papers before proceeding for Ex-Parte Inquiry.

Before Publishing Notice in News Paper, the Inquiry must send notice for appearance before Inquiry Officer through registered post AD.

If the delinquent employee refuses to accept the notice in order to avoid service of the Notice, Inquiry Officer can record the statement of Post-Man also.

In the case of Union of India v. Tulsiram Patel, the Supreme Court emphasized that ex-parte inquiries must not be conducted hastily.

The inquiry officer must meticulously evaluate the evidence on record to ensure fairness.

Challenges for Ex-Parte Inquiry

Some legal intellectuals says that Ex-parte inquiry may lead to unjust outcome due not having adequately representation of employee.

A biased Disciplinary Authority can proceed against employee bypassing all the formalities of principle of Natural Justice.

There are concerns about the potential misuse of Ex-parte provisions to victimize employees or suppress dissent.

Balancing Fairness and Efficiency

While efficiency is crucial, it should not come at the cost of fairness. Ex-parte inquiries must strike a delicate balance between expeditious resolution and safeguarding the charged employee's rights.

Any deviation from procedural fairness could render the inquiry invalid and subject to legal challenge.

To mitigate the risk of unfairness in ex-parte inquiries, organizations must ensure transparency in the disciplinary process.

Employees should be educated about their rights and provided with assistance to prepare their defense.

Additionally, clear guidelines should be established to govern the conduct of ex-parte inquiries.

Ex-parte inquiries play a vital role in maintaining discipline and accountability within government organizations.

However, it is imperative to conduct these inquiries with utmost fairness and adherence to procedural safeguards.

By upholding principles of natural justice, such inquiries can effectively address misconduct while preserving the integrity of the disciplinary process.

Inquiry Officer Should Record all available Evidence

The inquiry officer has to record all available evidence even the proceedings continuing in the absence of all the charged employee. 

The recording of all available evidences are mandatory even in Ex-Parte proceedings. 

Case Reference : Imperial Tobacoo Vs. Workmen, AIR 1962 SC 1343

Non-Supply of Relevant Documents to Charged Employee is Causing prejudice to Employee

Where the Charged Employee did not participated in the Inquiry because the Disciplinary Authority / Inquiry Officer refused to supply important documents. 

The Hon'ble Supreme Court held that non-supply of relevant documents had caused serious prejudice to the Charged Employee. 

Case Reference : Raizada Trilok Nath vs. Union of India, 1967 SLR (SC) 759

Prosecution has to Prove his Case Even in Ex-Parte Inquiry

The basic principal that it is for the prosecution to prove the charges that evidences are against the Charged Employee. 

In absence of sufficient evidences against Charged Employee, Disciplinary Authority cannot award punishment unless guild is proved.

Case Reference : Modula India vs. K.S. Deo, (1988) 4 SCC 619 

Questions & Answers on Ex-Parte Inquiry

(a)    If any employee refused to accept the notice from Inquiry Officer, Can Inquiry proceed for Ex-Parte Inquiry ?

Ans.  Yes, the Inquiry Officer can proceed for Ex-Parte Inquiry, however, before this, he must publish the notice in local news papers.

(b)    Is Ex-Parte Valid without participation of the employee ?

Ans. Yes, if the delinquent Employee does not participate or cooperate in enquiry, ex-parte enquiry would be valid. (Coal India Ltd. Vs. Ananta Saha, (2011) 5 SCC 142)

(c)   If the delinquent employee asks more time to appear due to other reasons. Can Ex-Parte be held valid ?

Ans.  No, if the employees asked sufficient time for appearance, Inquiry Officer should not proceed ex-parte.

(d)    Can Inquiry Officer proceed Ex-Parte after only one Notice ?

Ans.  No, the Inquiry Officer must take efforts for participation of the employee in Inquiry proceedings.

(e)    If Inquiry Officer is totally against the delinquent employee, what should an employee do ?

Ans. He can make representation to Disciplinary Authority for change of Inquiry Officer ?

(f)     If Criminal Proceedings are pending against an employee on seminal facts. Can disciplinary proceedings in the same matters be stayed by Court of Law.

Ans. Yes, if Disciplinary Proceedings and Criminal Proceedings are running on same facts, the employee can try to obtain stay on disciplinary proceedings.

(g)     If Disciplinary Authority failed to serve the charge sheet to delinquent employee, whether, the employee can go appointment of Inquiry Officer ?

Ans.  Its depend on the circumstances of the each case, in which circumstances, Disciplinary Authority failed to serve the charge sheet.

(h)     Can a Permanent Employee be terminated without Inquiry ? 

Ans.  The Hon'ble Supreme Court has held many times that there will be No Termination without Departmental Inquiry

Read More : Judicial Intervention in Disciplinary Proceedings