Friday, July 17, 2015

Sometime, there can be action against an official facing sexual harassment complaint even without inquiry, says DoPT Step Guide

DISCIPLINARY authority conducting an inquiry in sexual harassment complaints is allowed to dispense with inquiry, and action may be taken against the government official without inquiry when the authority concludes that it is not reasonably practicable to hold such an inquiry because of threats or intimidation, according to provisions laid down by a new guide on “Steps for Conduct of Inquiry in complaints of Sexual Harassment”, prepared by the department of personnel and training (DoPT), Government of India. Action without inquiry could be possible if…
the government servant against whom the sexual harassment case was slapped “terrorizes, threatens or intimidates witnesses who are likely to give evidence against him”, according to the Step Guide, the full text of which was released by the DoPT on Thursday. The other circumstances under which action without inquiry is permitted if the government servant himself or with or through others threatens, intimidates and terrorizes the disciplinary authority, members of the committee, the presenting officer or members of their family, said the Step Guide.
The DoPT in an office memorandum dated July 16, 2015 however clarified that the Step Guide is not intended as a substitute for reference to the existing rules and instructions. “Members of the Complaints Committees and others who are required to deal with such inquiries should acquaint themselves with Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965, and instructions issued there-under,” the office memorandum said.
In fact, the suggestion of preparing a Step Guide for conduct of inquiry in complaint cases of sexual harassment cropped up during a meeting of the chairpersons of complaints committees with secretary (personnel) on the April 16, 2015.
The Step Guide further said that a government servant may also be placed under suspension before or after issue of a charge-sheet “where his continuance in office will prejudice the investigation, for example if there is an apprehension that he may tamper with witnesses or documents”. The government may resort to suspension of an official where continuance of the government servant in office will be "against wider public interest such as there is a public scandal and it is necessary to place the government servant under suspension to demonstrate the policy of the government to deal strictly with officers involved in such scandals", the guide said.

1 comment:

  1. Suspension is not a penalty. Issuing chargesheet to the accused without shoe-cause notice, may not stand the scrutiny in the court of law on the basis of the principle of Equity and Natural Justice.The relaxation in disciplinary rules, is likely to be misused by the so-called aggrieved to settle scores with the accused.This would lead to travesty of Justice.

    A K Saxena (A retd civil servant)