Jammu: The General Administration Department (GAD) Sunday reprimanded the government departments for not following guidelines and procedures to be adopted in Regular Departmental Actions (RDA) or Departmental Enquiries in letter and spirit.
GAD Commissioner Secretary M K Dwivedi, while reproving the departments for this slackness, said that this "defeats the very purpose of investigation by the Investigating agencies."
“These acts are not only contrary to the provisions contained in the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1956, guidelines issued by Central Vigilance Commission and Circular Instructions, issued by the General Administration Department from time to time, but also seen as delaying tactic for conclusion of RDAs,” Dwivedi said in a circular reiterating the guidelines and fixing timelines.
“It has been further noticed that the RDAs are not being concluded by the concerned departments within the prescribed timelines, resulting into protracted delay in finalization of the cases,” he said referring to earlier Circular No 06-JK(GAD) of 2020 dated February 3, 2020.
Dwivedi pointed out that the Central Vigilance Commission, vide its Circular No 18/12/20 dated December 14, 2020, had also taken a serious note on the delay caused in finalization of the Departmental Enquiries and RDAs.
“The Central Vigilance Commission further observed that non-adherence to the timelines fixed for conclusion of Departmental Enquiries and RDAs leads to unwarranted delay in finalisation of the cases and any unexplained or undue delay leads to unnecessary litigation and provides undue advantage or harassment to the charged official. Such delays on one hand help in evading penalty on guilty officials, while prolonging the agony of the Officials who may have been charge-sheeted wrongly in a few cases and are finally exonerated,” he said.
In certain cases, it was also observed that after receiving of recommendations for institution of RDA, the departments instead of serving charge-sheet to the delinquent public servant(s) “choose to appoint 'Enquiry Officer' or constitute 'Enquiry Committee' at their level to decide the matter, which is unnecessary, uncalled for and often seen as a delaying tactic to avoid conclusion of RDAs in accordance with the rules.”
In many other cases, it was observed that even after the conclusion of departmental proceedings, the government orders were not issued, he said.
He also clarified that criminal proceedings and departmental proceedings could be held simultaneously except in cases where the court specifically restrained the government from undertaking departmental proceedings.
“In all such criminal cases where the criminal proceedings have been initiated and the alleged criminal act amounts to act(s) of misconduct and, as such, attracts the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1956, the department shall take recourse and strictly adhere to the aforesaid rules, procedures and guidelines, and institute a departmental enquiry in all such cases,” Dwivedi said.
He instructed that the Administrative Secretaries and Heads of Departments should take periodical review of the vigilance cases and departmental enquiries, pending at various stages. “They will issue necessary directions, as may be required, to ensure their speedy completion. All concerned should be informed that processing RDA cases in a timely manner is essential for good governance and a serious view will be taken on any delay even while processing cases. Accordingly, it is impressed upon all the departments to strictly adhere to the guidelines and instructions,” he said.
The guidelines state that the Investigating Agencies - Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) or Crime Branch (CB), in many cases, recommend Regular Departmental Action against delinquent public servant(s) pursuant to which the departments are required to initiate departmental proceedings, in accordance with the procedures laid down in Rule 33 of J&K Civil Services (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules, 1956, and conclude the same in a time bound manner.
The recommendations of Investigating Agencies invariably contain the draft Articles of charge, statement of Imputations with the gist of evidences.
“On the basis of the inputs received from the Investigating Agencies, the matter should be critically examined to determine as to whether a case for initiation of departmental proceedings is made out or not. If need arises, clarifications and more inputs should be obtained from the Investigating Agency and GAD (Vigilance). However, if there are any facts which require taking a different view, the case should be referred back to the Investigating Agency, along with the said facts, within four weeks of the receipt of the recommendations,” it was specified.
As per the guidelines, the departments should monitor each departmental enquiry carefully to ensure its completion in a time bound manner, preferably within a period of eight months and not more than nine months in any case, and its outcome shared with the General Administration Department (Vigilance).
“To ensure timely conclusion of the Departmental Actions, the time limits should be followed. In case of issue of charge-sheet to the stage of appointment of Inquiry officer and the Presenting Officer, all the required actions may be completed within a period of two months from the date of the receipt of the RDA case. Conducting departmental Enquiry and submission of report by the Inquiry Officer, the Inquiry report should be submitted within six months from the date of appointment of IO,” Dwivedi said, mentioning the timelines.
“Overall additional time for all or any of the stages of disciplinary proceedings due to some unavoidable and unforeseen circumstances, in addition to the time limit already specified, a period of one more month may be taken, if required,” he said.