Departmental Inquiry by whom?
Let us understand that the rules provide that the departmental inquiry can be conducted by the disciplinary authority itself or by appointing an independent inquiry officer. However it is desirable that an independent inquiry officer is appointed when a grave misconduct is committed and a major penalty is proposed to be imposed.
Appointment of presenting officer, when?
Rules provide that whenever the inquiry is to be conducted by independent inquiry officer, the departmental inquiry officer may appoint presenting officer. The presenting officer is appointed so that the case of the disciplinary authority can be forcefully pleaded and the charges leveled against the delinquent employee are proved. The court has held in the case referred by me in earlier mail that the presenting officer should be appointed when oral evidence i.e. examination of witnesses, is to be produced .If the presenting officer is not appointed, the case of the disciplinary authority may not be forcefully pleaded. Even in the absence of the presenting officer, the charges may be proved on the basis of documentary and oral evidence.
Role of Inquiry officer in absence of presenting officer
The inquiry officer must remember that his role is not that of prosecutor. He has discretion to ask questions to the witnesses but only to find out the facts. He should not cross-examine the witnesses.
Inquiry in absence of presenting officer
The inquiry held will not be vitiated or held illegal only on the ground of not appointing presenting officer or absence of presenting officer.