Government Servants (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1985

Government Servants (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1985 prescribe the procedure for inquiry and types of punishment to be imposed depending upon the severity of offence or offences of the government servants, and also define the procedure for appeal, review and revision. The rules provide a broad definition of misconduct which includes conduct prejudicial to good order or service discipline or any contravention of the provisions of the conduct rules or any conduct unbecoming of an officer or gentleman. The definition of misconduct further includes (i) disobedience to lawful orders of superior officers; (ii) gross negligence of duty; (iii) flouting of government orders, circulars and directives without lawful excuse, and (iv) submission of petitions before any authority containing wild, vexatious, false or frivolous accusation against a government servant.

The grounds of penalty include inefficiency, misconduct, desertion, corruption and subversion. Penalties fall into two categories, minor penalties and major penalties. Minor penalty normally includes censure, withholding of promotion for a specified period, stoppage for a specified period at an efficiency bar otherwise than for unfitness to cross such bar, recovery from pay or gratuity of the whole or any part of any pecuniary loss caused to government by negligence or breach of orders, and reduction to a lower stage in time-scale of pay. The major penalties include reduction to lower post or pay, compulsory retirement, removal/dismissal from service. Under the rules, removal from service does not, but dismissal from service does, disqualify from future employment under the government or under any body corporate established by or under any law.

The types of penalties, which may be imposed for specific offences, are also laid down in the rules. For inefficiency, any penalty may be imposed except censure and dismissal or any penalty except dismissal depending on types of inefficiency. Any penalty, major or minor, may be imposed for misconduct and for corruption or subversion, and any major penalty except reduction to a lower post or pay. The requirement for imposition of major penalty is that no authority subordinate to that by which a government servant was appointed is competent to impose on him/her any major penalty. This requirement is based on Article 135(1) of the Constitution.

Inquiry procedure prescribed under the rules basically falls into three types: (i) the inquiry procedure in cases of subversion; (ii) the inquiry procedure calling for minor penalties; (iii) the inquiry procedure that may lead to imposition of major penalties. Article 135(2) of the Constitution requires that no person who holds a civil post in the service of the republic shall be dismissed, or removed or reduced in rank until he has been given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause why that action should not be taken.

Exceptions to the above constitutional requirement include imposition of major penalty following conviction of a criminal offence or where the authority competent to impose major penalty is satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable to give the accused government servant an opportunity of showing cause or where the President is satisfied that in the interest of the security of State it is not expedient to give the accused such an opportunity. The last mentioned exception applies under the rules for inquiry procedure in cases of subversion.

The requirement of providing reasonable opportunity to show cause applies to inquiry procedure for both major and minor penalties. There is provision for personal hearing also. After show cause notice and personal hearing of the accused government servant, the appointing authority is required to appoint an inquiry officer. The punishment or acquittal depends on the considerations of the findings of the inquiry officer. In case of minor penalty, however, the appointing authority may, if he is satisfied, give his order without appointing an inquiry officer. In cases calling for major penalty a second show cause notice is to be issued. In such cases, the appointing authority, if he thinks appropriate, may place the accused government servant under suspension or ask him to go on leave.

Where the President, as the appointing authority, passes an order in a disciplinary case, no appeal lies against that order. There can, however, be a review prayer made to him by the aggrieved government servant. The President may either on his motion or otherwise, revises his order. Limitation for both appeal and revision is three months on which the affected government servant was informed.

Finally, if there is a prosecution or legal proceeding against a government servant on the same issue, there is no bar to the disposal of the disciplinary proceedings. However, if the authority has decided to impose any penalty, imposition of such penalty shall be stayed until the disposal of the prosecution or legal proceeding. [AMM Shawkat Ali]