Charge-sheets are compulsory or show cause notices are enough to frame charges on bank employees? Please clarify.
Answer: Your question is not very clear. Firstly, each organisation has its own set of rules, though they may be similar in principles. Each bank may have its own different set of rules. The answer to your question would depend on the rules applicable in a particular bank. Secondly, it also depends on the type of penalty being imposed, i.e., a major penalty or a minor penalty.
That said, there are certain basic principles. Firstly, if the departmental action being taken against the employee of the bank is for imposition of a major penalty [which generally includes, (i) dismissal, (ii) removal from service, (iii) compulsory retirement, (iv) reduction to a lower grade or post, or to a lower stage in a time scale, and (v) reduction to a lower stage in the time scale of pay for specified period with further directions as to whether or not the officer will earn increment to pay during the period of such reduction, etc.], a regular full-fledged detailed inquiry is generally required to be conducted under the relevant rules. For example, in the case of officers of State Bank of India, the relevant rule laying down procedure for conducting inquiry for imposing major penalty states as under:
“Where it is proposed to hold an inquiry, the Disciplinary Authority shall frame definite and distinct charges on the basis of the allegations against the Officer. The articles of charge, together with a statement of the allegations on which they are based, shall be communicated in writing to the officer, who shall be required to submit within such time as may be specified by the Disciplinary Authority not exceeding 15 days or within such extended time as may be granted by the said Authority, a written statement of his defence.”
The above-mentioned “articles of charge” along with a statement of allegations, is generally referred to as the “charge-sheet”.
On the other hand, if the departmental action being taken against the employee of the bank is for imposition of a minor penalty [which generally includes, (i) Censure; (ii) Withholding of increments of pay with or without cumulative effect; (iii) Withholding of promotion; (iv) Recovery from payor such other amount as may be due to him of the whole or part of any pecuniary loss caused to the Bank by negligence or breach of orders; (v) Reduction to a lower stage in time scale of pay for a period not exceeding 3 years, without cumulative effect and not adversely affecting the officer’s pension], the inquiry that is conducted is a summary inquiry which is not very detailed. For example, in the case of officers of State Bank of India, the relevant rule laying down procedure for conducting inquiry for imposing minor penalty states as under:
“Where it is proposed to impose any of the minor penalties specified in clauses (a) to (d) of rule 67 the officer shall be informed in writing of the imputations of lapses against him and be given an opportunity to submit has written statement of defence within a specified period not exceeding 15 days or such extended period as may be granted by the Disciplinary Authority. The defence statement, if any, submitted by the officer shall be taken into consideration by the Disciplinary Authority before passing orders.”
So, in the case of minor penalty, a formal charge-sheet or “articles of charge” may not be necessary, and instead of that the officer is required to be informed in writing of the imputations of lapses against him. You may loosely call it a show cause notice, though the rule does not use these words.
What has been mentioned above is from the rules applicable to the officers of the State Bank of India (SBI). Other banks may have their own different rules, though the rules may be similar. Likewise, even within SBI, the rules for taking action against other employees (other than officers) would be different. Thus, the fact remains that the answer to your question would depend upon the relevant rules applicable in a bank and also to the particular group of type of employees in that bank. Moreover, show cause notice is a loose term that can perhaps be used in many situations. Articles of charge or the charge-sheet is generally issued when departmental action is to be taken for imposition of a major penalty, as mentioned above. However, as mentioned above, you’ll have to refer to the relevant rules actually applicable to arrive at the correct conclusion with regard to a bank employee.
Lastly, your question specifically asks whether a charge-sheet is compulsory for “framing charges” on a bank employee. The moment you say “framing of charges”, that itself implies that it is a “charge-sheet” being issued to the bank employee. In such a situation, if the inquiry is for imposing a major penalty, a mere show cause notice may not suffice, though as I said earlier, one has to refer to the actual rules applicable to the concerned employee in that bank.
Another word of caution. Here, one should not confuse the terminology used in the criminal cases for which prosecution is conducted in a court. In a criminal court, “charge-sheet” is filed by police under Section 173 of Criminal Procedure Code on conclusion of the investigation, whereas “charges are framed” by the court thereafter under provisions of Section 228 or Section 240, etc., depending on the type of criminal case.
In service law, the charge-sheet is issued by the disciplinary authority and that itself includes the “framing of charges” or the charges that have been framed against the employee.