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Suspension Guidelines of CVC -
Introduction

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Suspension –Guidelines of CVC- Introduction

The order of “suspension” is an executive order which debars a Government/public servant from exercising his powers and performing his legitimate duties during the period the order remains in force. However, during the period of suspension, a Government servant continues to be a member of the service to which he belongs and the relationship of master and servant also continues. He continues to be governed by the same set of Conduct, Discipline and Appeal Rules, which were applicable to him before he was placed under suspension. Though, suspension is not a formal penalty, it constitutes a great hardship to the person concerned as it leads to reduction in his emoluments, adversely affects his prospects of promotion, and also carries a stigma. Therefore, an order of suspension should not be made in a perfunctory or in a routine and casual manner but with due care and caution.

Authorities Competent to Place a Public Servant under Suspension

For the purpose of determining the authorities competent to place a public servant under suspension, one needs to refer to the Discipline and Appeal Rules applicable to the employee concerned. Generally, the provision in the Rules applicable to Central Government servants and the employees of Central public sector undertakings/autonomous organisations are identical. The following authorities are competent to place a Government servant under suspension in terms of Rule 10(1) of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965:-

  1. Appointing authority as defined in Rule 2(a) of the Central Civil Services (CC&A) Rules, 1965; or
  2. An authority to which the appointing authority is subordinate; or
  3. The disciplinary authority, i.e. the authority competent to impose any of the penalties specified in Rule 11 of the Central Civil Services (CC&A) Rules, 1965; or
  4. Any other authority empowered in that behalf by the President by a general or special order.

If an order of suspension is made by an authority lower than the appointing authority, such authority shall report to the appointing authority the circumstances in which the order was made.

When a Government Servant May be Suspended

Before passing an order of suspension, the authority proposing to make the order should verify whether it is competent to do so. An order of suspension made by an authority, which does not have the power to pass such an order, is illegal and will give cause of action for:

  1. setting aside of the order of suspension; and

  2. claiming full pay and allowances for the period the Government servant remained away from duty due to the order of suspension./P>

When an order of suspension is made by an authority subordinate to the appointing authority, the appointing authority should, as soon as information about the order of suspension is received, examine whether the authority by whom the order was made was competent to do so.

Where the services of a Government servant are lent by one department to another department, or borrowed from or lent to a State Government or an authority subordinate thereto, or borrowed from or lent to a local authority or other authority, the borrowing authority can suspend such Government servant under Rule 20(1) of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules, 1965. The lending authority should, however, be informed forthwith of the circumstances leading to the order of suspension.

In the circumstances stated in Rule 3 of the All India Services (Discipline & Appeal) Rules, 1969, the Central Government can suspend a member of an All India Service if he is serving under the Central Government or is on deputation to a corporate public enterprise or to a local authority under the Central Government.

A Government servant may be placed under suspension when a disciplinary proceeding against him is contemplated or is pending; or where, in the opinion of the competent authority, he has engaged himself in activities prejudicial to the interest of the security of the State; or when a case against him in respect of any criminal offence is under investigation, enquiry or trial.

The suspended Government servant retains a lien on the permanent post held by him substantively at the time of suspension and does not suffer a reduction in rank. However, suspension may cause a lasting damage to Government servant’s reputation even if he is exonerated or is ultimately found guilty of only a minor misconduct. The discretion vested in the competent authority in this regard should, therefore, be exercised with care and caution after taking all factors into account.

It may be considered whether the purpose would not be served if the officer is transferred from his post. If he would like to have leave, that might be due to him, and if the competent authority thinks that such step would not be inappropriate, there should be no objection to leave being granted instead of suspending him.

Public interest should be the guiding factor in deciding whether or not a Government servant, including a Government servant on leave, should be placed under suspension; or whether such action should be taken even while the matter is under investigation and before a prima-facie case has been established. Certain circumstances under which it may be considered appropriate to do so are indicated below for the guidance of competent authorities:

  1. Where the continuance in office of the Government servant will prejudice investigation, trial or any inquiry (e.g., apprehended tampering with witnesses or documents);

  2. Where the continuance in office of the Government servant is likely to seriously subvert discipline in the office in which he is working;
  3. Where the continuance in office of the Government servant will be against the wider public interest, e.g., if there is a public scandal and it is considered necessary to place the Government servant under suspension to demonstrate the policy of the Government to deal strictly with officers involved in such scandals, particularly corruption;
  4. Where a preliminary enquiry into allegations has revealed a prima-facie case justifying criminal or departmental proceedings which are likely to lead to his conviction and/or dismissal, removal or compulsory retirement from service;
  5. Where the public servant is suspected to have engaged himself in activities prejudicial to the interest of the security of the State.

In the circumstances mentioned below, it may be considered desirable to suspend a Government servant for misdemeanors of the following types:

  1. an offence or conduct involving moral turpitude;

  2. corruption, embezzlement or misappropriation of Government money, possession of disproportionate assets, misuse of official powers for personal gains;
  3. serious negligence and dereliction of duty resulting in considerable loss to Government;
  4. desertion of duty;
  5. refusal or deliberate failure to carry out written orders of superior officers.

In respect of the type of misdemeanour specified in sub clauses (iii), (iv) and (v), discretion should be exercised with care.

Without prejudice to the above guidelines, there are certain kinds of cases where the SPE will, invariably, advise that the officer should be placed under suspension. If the CBI recommends suspension of a public servant and the competent authority does not propose to accept the CBI’s recommendation, it may be treated as a case of difference of opinion between the CBI and the administrative authority and the matter may be referred to the Commission for its advice. Further, if a public servant had been suspended on the recommendation of the CBI, the CBI may be consulted if the administrative authority proposes to revoke the suspension order.

A Government servant may also be suspended by the competent authority in cases in which the appellate, revising or reviewing authority, while setting aside an order imposing the penalty of dismissal, removal or compulsory retirement directs that de novo inquiry should be held; or that steps from a particular stage in the proceedings should be taken again; and considers that the Government servant should be placed under suspension even if he was not suspended previously. The competent authority may, in such cases, suspend a Government servant even if the appellate or reviewing authority has not given any direction about the suspension of Government servant.

A Government servant against whom proceedings have been initiated on a criminal charge but who is not actually detained in custody (e.g. a person released on bail) may be placed under suspension by an order of the competent authority under clause (b) of Rule 10 (1) of the Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules 1965. The Supreme Court in the case of Niranjan Singh and other vs. Prabhakar Rajaram Kharote and others (SLP No. 393 of 1980) have also made some observations about the need/desirability of placing a Government servant under suspension, against whom serious charges have been framed by a criminal court, unless exceptional circumstances suggesting a contrary course exist. Therefore, as and when criminal charges are framed by a competent court against a Government servant, the disciplinary authority should consider and decide the desirability or otherwise of placing such a Government servant under suspension in accordance with the rules, if he is not already under suspension. If the Government servant is already under suspension or is placed under suspension, the competent authority should also review the case from time to time, in accordance with the instructions on the subject, and take a decision about the desirability of keeping him under suspension till the disposal of the case by the Court.

A Government servant shall be placed under suspension by the competent authority, by invoking the provisions of sub-rule (1) of Rule 10 of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, if he is arrested in connection with the registration of the police case under Section 304-B of the IPC for his involvement in a case of dowry death, immediately, irrespective of the period of his detention. If he is not arrested, he shall be placed under suspension immediately on submission of a police report under section 173 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to the Magistrate, if the report, primafacie, indicates that the offence has been committed by the Government servant.

Deemed Suspension

Under Rule 10(2), (3) and (4) of the Central Civil Services (CC&A) Rules, 1965, a Government servant is deemed to have been placed under suspension in the following circumstances:-

  1. If he is detained in custody, whether on a criminal charge or otherwise, for a period exceeding 48 hours, he will be deemed to have been placed under suspension with effect from the date of detention. A Government servant who is detained in custody under any law providing for preventive detention or as a result of proceedings for his arrest for debt will fall in this category.

  2. If a Government servant is convicted of an offence and sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding 48 hours; and is not forthwith dismissed, removed or compulsorily retired consequent upon such conviction; he shall be deemed to have been placed under suspension with effect from the date of his conviction. For this purpose, the period of 48 hours will be computed from the commencement of imprisonment after the conviction and intermittent periods of imprisonment, if any, shall be taken into account.
  3. Where a penalty of dismissal, removal or compulsory retirement from service imposed upon a Government servant under suspension is set aside in appeal or on review and the case is remitted by the appellate or reviewing authority for further enquiry or action or with any other directions, the order of suspension shall be deemed to have continued in force, on and from the date of original order of dismissal, removal or compulsory retirement and shall remain in force until further orders.
  4. Where a penalty of dismissal, removal or compulsory retirement from service imposed upon a Government servant is set aside or declared or rendered void in consequence of or by a decision of a Court of Law and the disciplinary authority, on a consideration of the circumstances of the case, decides to hold a further inquiry against him on the allegations on which the penalty of dismissal, removal or compulsory retirement was originally imposed, the Government servant shall be deemed to have been placed under suspension by the appointing authority from the date of the original order of dismissal, removal or compulsory retirement and shall continue to remain under suspension until further orders. The further inquiry referred to above should not be ordered except in a case where the penalty of dismissal, removal or compulsory retirement, has been set aside by a Court of Law on technical grounds without going into the merits of the case or when fresh material has come to light which was not before the Court. A further enquiry into the charges, which have not been examined by the court can, however, be ordered depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.

An order of suspension made or deemed to have been made under clauses (1) to (4) of Rule 10 of the CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965, continues to remain in force until it is modified or revoked by the competent authority under Rule 10(5) ibid.

The police authorities will send prompt intimation of arrest and/or release on bail etc., of a Central Government servant to the latter’s official superior as soon as possible after the arrest and/or release indicating the circumstances of the arrest etc.

A duty has also been cast on the Government servant, who may be arrested or convicted for any reasons, to intimate promptly the fact of his arrest/conviction and circumstances connected\ therewith to his official superior even though he might have been released on bail subsequently. Failure on the part of Government servant to do so will be regarded as suppression of material information and will render him liable to disciplinary action on this ground alone, apart from the action that may be called for on the outcome of the police case against him; or imposition of a penalty that may be warranted on the basis of the offence on which his conviction was based.

Order of Suspension/ Deemed Suspension

A Government servant can be placed under suspension only by a specific order made in writing by the competent authority. A standard form in which the order should be made is given in Section E. A Government servant should not be placed under suspension by an oral order.

In the case of deemed suspension under Rule 10(2), (3) or (4) of the CCS (CC&A) Rules, 1965, suspension will take effect automatically even without a formal order of suspension. However, it is desirable for purposes of administrative record to make a formal order, a standard form of which is given in Section E.

There could be more than one case, which might have been taken into consideration by the competent authority while placing a Government servant under suspension. If the two standard forms do not meet the requirements of any case, the competent authority may suitably simplify/modify the appropriate form to meet the requirements of the case and should indicate all the cases (criminal/ departmental under investigation/trial/contemplation) on the basis of which it is considered necessary to place the Government servant under suspension so that in the event of the reinstatement of the Government servant, the outcome of all such cases can be taken into account while regulating the period of suspension.

Where a Government servant is suspended or is deemed to have been suspended (whether in connection with any disciplinary proceedings or otherwise), and any other disciplinary proceeding is commenced against him during the continuance of that suspension, the authority competent to place him under suspension may, for reasons to be recorded by him in writing, direct that the Government servant shall continue to be under suspension until the termination of all or any of such proceedings.

A copy of the order of suspension should be endorsed to the Central Vigilance Commission also in cases involving a vigilance angle in respect of category ‘A’ employees, i.e. employees in whose case Commission’s advice is necessary.

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