Submission of the written statement of reply is the first response from the charged officer to the disciplinary authority after initiating the disciplinary case. You have to decide what to state or how much to state foreseeing the likely effects of your reply. If you choose to
i. Your reply should categorically deny in each and every allegation in the memorandum by way of imputations or articles
ii. Also deny all relevant facts made in support of the imputations or articles, which you dispute or deem as incorrect. It is enough if you convey a denial, you need not explain further the discrepancies in the charge sheet if any.
iii. You should not disclose beforehand the material evidences that you propose to rely on so as not to explain your defence case prematurely at this stage.
Based on the contents of written reply the DA may choose to close the matter or impose a minor penalty or issue a formal Charge sheet framing the charges as Article of charges supported by a Statement of allegations and the documents / witnesses to be used for proving the allegations / charges. At this stage you are again called upon to submit your reply to the charges. You may choose not to reply the charge sheet, and still the disciplinary authority has to conduct a regular inquiry and cannot deem the charges as accepted, despite any such clause incorporated in the charge sheet. The Statement of Defence submitted by you at this stage is taken on the record of inquiry proceedings.
Analyse critically the charge sheet, understand the expression stating the allegations. These are to be attended towards rebuttal. Analyse carefully the documents to be used by PO for proving the allegations. Make an inspection of relevant records / files to mine the documents required by you for your defence.
The list of defence documents and witnesses is to submitted to the Inquiry Officer specifying the relevance of each document before / during the regular hearing. However it needs careful prior preparation from the beginning to be able to furnish the Inquiry officer an effective list of documents & witnesses, which will truly speak and corroborate the defence case. The list therefore cannot be prepared and submitted at random, at the last hour. It is not the number of documents produced, but it is really the contents of the documents with positive relevancy to the defence case that will count. Some important points to be noted are
* When the PO files the management documents by way of letters taken out from correspondence-files, insist on examining the entire files. There may be some other letters in the same file to neutralise or dilute the evidence filed by the PO.
* Scan all guidelines/instructions/Manuals issued by Head office and locate relevant extracts or portions that will help to justify your action and list them as defence documents
* A document is deemed as a complete and unified record and it should be studied and accepted as a whole. The charged officer cannot rely on a single paragraph of a letter and take the plea that the remaining parts of the document do not form his evidence. Therefore, the documents to be produced by you, should not in part contain anything affecting your interest. It will amount to filing defence documents to facilitate the work of the Presenting officer.
When the case in support of the charges is closed, the officer employee may be required to state his defence, orally or in writing, as he may prefer. If the defence is made orally, it shall be recorded and the officer employee is required to sign the record. In either case a copy of the statement of defence shall be given to the Presenting Officer. The oral presentation has no specific advantage. On the other hand and it may prove to his disadvantage. It is advisable to collect all your thoughts calmly and draft the statement and present to the inquiry officer
The defence statement is the initial representation from the charged officer. It should contain all material information that the Charged Officer wants to represent. But it need not be very lengthy, as lengthy documents are not being read completely by the Inquiry Officer and disciplinary authority later.
This is followed by a reference by the disciplinary authority to the charged officer made forwarding of the report of the inquiry officer on its receipt and seeking his comments also known as Final reference. This is also referred as the second time extension of natural justice. This opportunity is to be used to prove to DA where & How IA’s conclusion is wrong / what is overlooked.
* The disciplinary authority examines the report of IA and record of the inquiry, including the points raised by the CSO carefully and dispassionately and after satisfying itself that the CSO has been given a reasonable opportunity to defend himself, and records its findings in respect of each article of charge saying whether, in its opinion, it stands proved or not. The disciplinary authority shall if it disagrees with the findings of the inquiry authority on any article of charge, record its reasons for such disagreement and record its own findings on such charge, if the evidence on record is sufficient for the purpose.
* If the disciplinary authority, having regard to its findings on all or any of the article of charge, is of the opinion that any of the penalties specified in Regulations should be imposed on the officer employee, it shall, make an order imposing such penalty.
* If the disciplinary authority having regard to its findings on all or any of the article of charge, is of the opinion that no penalty is called for, it may pass an order exonerating the officer employee concerned.
For preparation of final reference to DA we have to study carefully each and every sentence in the Report of the Inquiry Officer, and leave all imputations/articles where the Inquiry Officer has given a verdict that these are not proved restricting our reference to only those imputations/articles where the inquiry officer has given the verdict "charge proved". For this we have to note all evidences in favour of the defence that have been omitted to be considered. That is, the inquiry officer has considered PO's evidence and arrived at its finding without taking into account the defence pleadings. These omissions have to be graded according to the seriousness, and the findings of the Inquiry Officers with reference to these imputations or articles are to be requested for reconsideration by the disciplinary authority.
You can represent against the decision taken by Disciplinary Authority as well as against quantum of penalty imposed to Appellant Authority and Review Authority through your Appeal / Review Petition. We provide assistance for preparing the same.
The appeal should cover your grievances under two headings as under:-
i. Violation of inquiry procedure, and denial of natural justice, stressing how this has deprived you the full extent of your opportunities, resulting in under-presentation of your case.
ii. How the Inquiry Officer has erred in interpreting the evidence on record and drawn a verdict causing injustice to you. On this subject you have already represented to the disciplinary authority, at the time of getting 2nd stage reference from him. You may dwell on the same points. If the disciplinary authority failed to consider your submissions under the 2nd stage reference by ignoring them and passed on his final order, as if your objections did not exist on record, this must be pointed out in the Appeal, as the first item of discrepancy on the part of the Disciplinary Authority.
DA Regulations provide the remedy of Review. This is to be done within 6 months of the final order passed in a disciplinary case. The wording of the Regulation indicates that the Bank may also at its own discretion without any reference by the delinquent officer exercise a review of a case by the Review Authority in this period. After the six month period is over, the case becomes once for all closed as the far as the Bank is concerned.