Changing an over 50-year-old rule, the government has set a deadline of six months to complete probe in corruption cases involving its employees.
The decision has been taken to speed up the investigation in such cases, most of them pending for quite a long time.
The department of personnel and training (DoPT) has amended Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1965, and decided a timeline for critical stages of investigation and inquiry proceedings.
The Inquiring Authority should conclude the inquiry and submit its report within a period of six months, says the amended rules.
However, an extension for a period not exceeding six months at a time may be allowed for any good and sufficient reason to be recorded in writing by the disciplinary authority, it said.
Earlier, there was no such time frame to complete an enquiry.
The disciplinary authority shall deliver to a government servant, accused of irregularity and corruption, a copy of the articles of charge, the statement of the imputations of misconduct or misbehaviour and a list of documents and witnesses by which each article or charges is proposed to be sustained, the new rules said.
On receipt of such articles of charge, the government servant shall be required to submit his written statement of defence, if he so desires, and also state whether he desires to be heard in person, within a period of 15 days, it said.
The time limit can, however, be extended for a period not exceeding fifteen days. But under no circumstances, the extension of time for filing written statement of defence shall exceed forty-five days from the date of receipt of articles of charge, the rules said.
At present, there is no time limit for submission of the employee's statement of defence.
The new rules are applicable to all category of employees excluding those in all-India services--Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS)-- and a few other categories of officers.
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), in a directive, had last year expressed serious concern over delay in finalising corruption cases and asked all departments to complete these inquiries within a maximum period of six months to keep away "nothing will change" notion associated with governance.
The directive comes after the commission noted that administrative authorities are not adhering to the time- schedule prescribed for completion of disciplinary proceedings.
"In a recent study conducted by the commission, it has been noticed that while the average time taken by the administrative authorities in finalisation of disciplinary proceedings is more than two years, the maximum time taken in a particular case was eight years and at least in 22 per cent cases the inquiry took more than two years," the CVC had said.
As per the anti-corruption watchdog, the time-limit for completion of departmental inquiries is six months from the date of appointment of inquiry officer.
With PTI Inputs