Inquiry Officers
Presenting Officers
Presenting Officers

ROLES AND FUNCTIONS

Role of the Presenting Officer By their very nature, the departmental inquiries cannot be equated with proceedings before the courts of law. The Inquiring Authority is not a court and the Presenting Officer is not a public prosecutor. Such inquiries are basically fact-finding exercises. Hence, the proper role for the Presenting Officer is to assist, to the best of his ability, the Inquiring Authority to reach the truth, by presenting before him the case of the Disciplinary Authority in its correct perspective.

The primary function of the Presenting Officer is to marshal facts before the Inquiry Officer and to examine and cross-examine the witnesses produced during the inquiry. Thus, he should:-
1. Assist the Inquiry Officer during preliminary hearing to sort out the preliminaries;
2.
Supply the copies of documents in support of the charges and allow inspection of the originals to the charged employee when so directed by the Inquiry Officer.

3.
Supply copies (in full) of the earlier statements of witnesses mentioned in the list of prosecution witnesses.
4.
Produce the listed documents before the Inquiry Officer in the beginning of the regular hearing so that they are brought on record; and to prove the disputed documents by examining the relevant official witness(es).

5.
Lead, in a logical manner, the oral evidence before the Inquiry Officer in support of the charge.
6.
Where necessary, to make timely request to the Inquiry Officer for production of some new or additional evidence not mentioned in the charge sheet. The right stage for making such a request is after he has examined all the witnesses and before the defence case begins.

7.Cross-examine effectively witnesses produced by defence.
8.Submit his written brief, summing up his case, with a copy to the charged official after all evidence has been recorded in the case. Where the rules permit, he may, with the permission of the Inquiry Officer, argue the case orally.
 

IMPORTANT DO'S FOR PRESENTING OFFICER


Study all the original records of the case based on which the charges are framed and acquaint himself with all the facts of the case thoroughly including all the elements of misconduct. committed by the Charged Official.
Be in a position to assist the Inquiry Officer to plan the stages of regular hearing purposefully.
Collect all listed documents and all the statements of witnesses taken during the investigation, if not received already.
Correlate each item of oral or documentary evidence to the statement of imputation of misconduct and decide what is likely to prove or fails to prove.
 
Scrutinise the charge sheet and the Defence Statement for giving up unnecessary formal witnesses at the time of preliminary hearing.
Anticipate what the Charged Official is likely to admit; then, omit the evidence intended to prove admitted facts or which is superfluous.
If a document is admitted, it can be produced by a person in possession of it. On the other hand, if the contents of any documents are not admitted, the person who prepared it or maintained it must be offered as a witness so that the Charged Official can cross-examine him.
 
Be in a position to collect necessary evidence and witnesses for presentation at the regular hearing with greater precision. Keep all your witnesses present for hearing from day -to-day.
 
Before departmental witnesses are examined at the enquiry, it would be desirable to meet them in advance and refresh their memory by referring to their statements recorded at the time of investigation.
 
Remember the points which are generally raised by the defence, viz. mala-fides, natural justice and burden of proof. Equip yourself fully how to meet them.
 
Have a thorough knowledge of departmental policies and procedures.
You may re-examine the prosecution witnesses.
Keep an eye on the procedural aspect at different stages of the disciplinary proceedings and aid the Inquiring Authority in securing proper compliance of such rules.
 
As the inquiry proceeds, take down notes so that you do not leave out points to be covered up during cross-examination/re-examination. This will also help you in preparing the brief at the end.
 
Throughout the conduct of the inquiry, you should conduct yourself in such a manner that the Charged Official will have no reason to feel that you have any undue influence over the Inquiring Authority.
 
Lead fresh evidence on behalf of the Disciplinary Authority to further clarify some issues raised in the course of the inquiry.
Submit you brief in time.

IMPORTANT DON’T’S FOR THE PRESENTING OFFICER

Do not:

Try to get adjournments.
Assume the role of a public prosecutor.
Examine your witnesses on issues not relevant to the charges.
Expect the Charged Official to disprove the charges so long as the burden of proving the charges is not discharged by you.
Put leading questions to your witnesses during examination-in-chief.
Delay submission of your written brief to the Inquiry Officer.
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Last Updated : 23 Mar,2014