A domestic inquiry is an inquiry held by the management against its own employee against whom certain acts of misconducts are alleged. It can also be defined a search for truth or otherwise of facts/circumstances/charges alleged by the employer against its employee.
In conducting a domestic enquiry the rules of natural justice must be adhered to. The domestic enquiry should not be regarded by the employer as a “mere formality” nor an unnecessary inconvenience but an integral part of the disciplinary process whereby the employer can establish that the termination of the employee was with just cause or excuse.
Rather than viewing that the domestic inquiry is burden on the management, and an unnecessary waste of time, resources and expense, the employer, should view the process of the inquiry as a means to show that every possible means was made available to avail the employee of meeting the charges against him and, if possible, clearing himself.
Procedure of Domestic Enquiry
(1) At the commencement of the enquiry, the names of the persons present needs to be recorded. Normally, the enquiry officer, presenting officer, the delinquent employee or his representative, the complainant, his representative, if any is present. No outsider is allowed to participate. The procedure to be followed in the enquiry is explained to the delinquent employee in his own language and confirmation is taken from him that he has understood it. The charge sheet is then read over and explained to the delinquent employee in his language and he should signify that he understood the contents of the charge sheet.
(2) The presenting officer open the case by reciting the incident/offence in presence of all and calls his witnesses including the complainant and adduces documentary evidence in support thereof.
(3) The complainant and his witnesses are examined before the delinquent employee is asked to make any statement regarding the offence for which he has been charge sheeted. The complainant states his knowledge of the offence/incident and cites witnesses in support of his complaint. It is recorded.
(4) The delinquent employee is asked to cross-examine the complainant or his witnesses on his oral statements as well as any document that the complainant produces in the course of his examination. If the delinquent employee declines to cross-examine the complainant of his witness then the same should be recorded.
(5) Once the examination and cross-examination of the complainant and his witnesses are over, the delinquent employee is asked to state his case and then produce his witnesses, whose statements are recorded separately and the presenting officer, the complainant or his witnesses is allowed to cross-examine them.
(6) The enquiry officer explains such clarifying question to the delinquent employee as is necessary in the interest of justice.
(7) All the proceedings of the domestic enquiry being recorded should be signed daily by the delinquent employee or his representative, as the case may be, presenting officer, complainant, enquiry officer, and the witnesses.
(8) If the delinquent employee admits his guilt, it does not necessarily follow that the enquiry should be dispensed with. To avoid future complications, the formal domestic enquiry should be held to have his admission confirmed.