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Synopsis: CAPF needs a tribunal to provide faster resolution for numerous pending cases.
There have been numerous cases of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers overstaying leave. To curb that, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently issued orders to “include the provisions of Security Force Court (SFC) as available in the Acts and Rules of other CAPFs (Central Armed Police Forces), so that such cases are finalised within minimum time.”
How departmental inquiries are conducted in CRPF?
For non-gazetted ranks: CRPF rules lay down the procedure for the conduct of departmental inquiries against non-gazetted ranks. In normal circumstances, the departmental inquiries are completed within three to six months.
For gazetted ranks: The time taken to order the inquiries is longer as other institutions like the Union Public Service Commission, the Central Vigilance Commission, the Department of Personnel and Training, and the MHA are also tied in for their views and legal opinion.
When personnel overstays their leave: The delinquent officers must be directed to appear before the inquiring authority along with the presenting officer and the defence assistant of the charged official. Even if one of them fails to appear for the hearing, the conduct of inquiry must be postponed.
Since most officers are busy with operational matters, the inquiries take a backseat.
How departmental inquiries are different from Security Force Court(SFC)?
SFC: It is a purely judicial process where the guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt and the charged official is at liberty to engage a legal practitioner to defend him.
Departmental inquiry: It is a quasi-judicial proceeding where the mere element of a preponderance of probability is enough to determine guilt. Hence, the conduct of a departmental inquiry is the better option.
How to solve the pendency in CAPF?
Appointing retired officers for inquiry: Most departments of the government appoint retired officers for enquiry. CAPF can also appoint retired officials.
Set up Tribunals: With increasing cases being filed in the High Courts across the country in service matters, it is high time the government considered the setting up of tribunals for the CAPFs on the lines of the Armed Forces Tribunal for defence services.
Source: This post is based on the article “Needed: A tribunal for CAPF” published in The Hindu on 8th September 2021