......our answer to all your banking needs


Follow AllBankingSolutions


    Follow allbanking on Twitter

Disciplinary Proceedings in Public Sector Banks - A Scientific and Well Structured Approach Required





In the recent years, disciplinary proceedings in the public sector banks are on the rapid rise and nobody appears to have attempted to ascertain the real reasons behind them. I often wonder whether our officers have all of a sudden become inefficient, negligent, corrupt and self-seeking, as compared to their predecessors or their own records of the past. The answer will be an emphatic "No", if a thorough and complete study is initiated to go into the root causes of issuance of so many 'Show Cause Notices' and 'Charge-Sheets' during the last 10 years. There appears to be a systematic targeting of the senior officers, who are well-experienced in different areas of banking and have worked in various geographical regions. I suspect that the managements want to drive out many seniors en bloc and induct young officers in their place. The reasons could be many. But, two important reasons could be to bring down the staff costs and to bring in fresh blood into the organization. I do not want to go into the ticklish issue of promoting the juniors at the cost of seniors here and wish to confine my study as to how to streamline the procedures for initiating disciplinary action against an officer without compromising the interests and concerns of both - the bank and the officers on its rolls.

Ads by Google

The procedure adopted at present
During the times of annual inspection of the branch or any special audit/inspection or upon the complaint by a customer, preliminary investigation is conducted by an officer from the controlling office or Head Office. Then, if any prima facie case is found, further investigation is made to go into all the aspects of the issue on hand and documentary evidence is collected. Then, the investigating officer submits a report to the management, explaining in detail as to what went wrong and who was responsible for it. Basing on this report and the documentary evidence attached to it, the management sends a 'Show Cause Notice' to the employees/officers concerned and advises them to submit their reply point-wise, within a reasonable time say, 15 days. If such reply is not satisfactory, then the management initiates disciplinary proceedings against the employees/concerned with the issuance of a charge-sheet listing out all the allegations/charges therein. Once this starts, the whole affair slips out of hands of the management itself. There appears to be a wrong notion in the minds of top management that most of the charge-sheets, if not all, must result in conviction of at least one or two employees.

What are the flaws found in the present type of exercise?

1. The officer who is sent to investigate into the matter - either initially or finally - does not possess required knowledge and wide experience into all the areas, perspectives and dimensions relevant to such investigation. For instance, rich experience in basic branch banking, KYC norms, inter-branch/bank settlements, credit, forex, technology etc. Therefore, he prepares and submits a report that is full of half-truths and surmises.

2. Immediately upon commencement of the investigation, some kind of bias and prejudices creep into the minds of the investigating officer either involuntarily or due to the wrong inputs given by somebody and they affect the objectivity and reliability of the report.

3. On many an occasion, the investigating officer is given an advance briefing by his higher officials and it is nothing but an indoctrination.

4. The investigating officer is not given sufficient time to study the issue in full detail and as a result, his findings based on selective material evidence may not always be correct.

Ads by Google

5. The worst part comes next. On perusing the report received, the higher officials make certain corrections in it, which alters the basic character of the original report.

6. If the management wants to help someone out, the contents of the report are diluted. On the other hand, if the employees/officers concerned do not enjoy the goodwill and support of the superiors, their fate is sealed by making the language of the report very strong, duly pinpointing their omissions and commissions.

Structured Questionnaire to eliminate subjectivity, bias and prejudice


  1. What is the type of Irregularity?

(a)  It is a genuine, unintentional error/mistake

(b)  Procedural lapse 

(c)  Abuse of Power 

(d)  Illegal Gratification/Bribe  

(e)  Embezzlement/Misappropriation of money


  1. In case of any lapse/omission, what was the cause for it?

(a)  Pressure of work 

(b)  Unbearable responsibilities/Overburden (Biting more than what one can chew)

(c)  The task performed was unfamiliar to the officer/staff

(d)  Due to some trap/conspiracy

(e)  Negligence  


  1. Who was benefited by the irregularity?

(a)  A customer/outsider

(b)  A group of staff

(c)  The accused employee or someone from his family or relatives

(d)  Both customer and the staff accused

(e)  None


  1. Is there any monetary loss to the bank?

(a)  Yes, only a small amount of loss

(b)  Substantial loss

(c)  Quantum of loss is yet to be ascertained

(d)  Whatever be the loss, it is recoverable with 90% certainty in the near future

(e)  Loss has already been recovered in full


  1. Who was/is responsible for the loss?

(a)  The employee

(b)  The customer concerned

(c)  An outsider

(d)  A group of people

(e)  Responsibility cannot be fixed on anyone


  1. Does the charge-sheeted employee co-operate with the investigation?

(a)  The employee is offering full co-operation at every stage of the investigation

(b)  The employee has destroyed some/all vital pieces of evidence

(c)  The employee is adopting delaying tactics

(d)  The employee brings in external pressure

(e)  The employee resorts to intimidation and threat


  1. Was the employee punished for any similar offence in the past?

(a)  No, all along he has had unblemished records

(b)  The employee has committed similar offences in the past, but all of them have been brought to the notice of the management only recently

(c)  The employee committed some petty offences in the past, but was let off with a warning

(d)  The employee was awarded  a major penalty for a similar offence in the past and yet allowed to continue in the bank

(e)  The employee was dismissed for a similar offence and subsequently reinstated


  1. Is there any noticeable change in the lifestyle of the employee, after the incident/date of irregularity under probe?

(a)  There is no noticeable change

(b)  There is some change in his/her behavior but it cannot be connected to the irregularity being probed

(c)  Some assets beyond the means of the employee have been purchased by him/her, after the incident/date of irregularity

(d)  The employee has not gone on leave, immediately after the irregularity occurred

(e)  The employee has stopped coming to the office for many days after the irregularity was found


  1. What is the nature of proof/evidence found to support the allegations of the management, against the employee concerned?

(a)  Irrefutable documentary evidence of various types, emanating from different, reliable sources

(b)  Voluntary confession of the officer/staff

(c)  Oral testimony of a third party  that is tenuous

(d)  Only circumstantial evidence

(e)  On a complaint from another person (customer/superior/colleague), whose credentials are questionable


  1. In the changed circumstances, does the allegation hold good even today?

(a)  Yes

(b)  The irregularity could have been remedied subsequently, but the allegation is true and it is tenable even today

(c)  Nothing has changed after the irregularity occurred

(d)  The allegation is no longer valid or it was made due to frivolous reasons

(e)  The allegation is the result of a personal vendetta


  1. Did the poor technological support and failure of computer network aid the irregularity?

(a)  The irregularity was caused by the acts of the accused person/s alone and no other reasons can be attributed for it

(b)  The fact of poor technological support was repeatedly brought to the notice of the higher ups, but no steps were taken to improve the infrastructure or to plug the loopholes pointed out earlier, either orally or in writing

(c)  Sudden failure of computer network on the fateful day was the sole cause for the mistake/error that is characterized as irregularity

(d)  The accused person/s utilized the lacunae in the systems and procedures to his personal advantage

(e)  The same deficiencies and lacunae in the systems continue in the bank, even today


  1. Did the 'Enquiry Officer' (EO) carefully study all the materials produced by the accused to defend himself/herself (listed as Defence Exhibits)?

(a)  The Enquiry Officer has not taken cognizance of Defence Exhibits at all, as there is no reference made to defence exhibits in the EO's Report

(b)  Similarly, the EO has not studied the proceedings of the 'Cross Examination' of the Management Witness/es (MW)

(c)  The EO has not matched each and every Defence Exhibit with the corresponding Management Exhibit, before arriving at his conclusive opinion

(d)  There are several inconsistencies and contradictions in the report of the EO

(e) The inferences drawn by the EO are wrong, illogical, arbitrary and without sufficient basis

Ads by Google

Other Points to be looked into

  1. Statements given by the colleagues whoever worked with the charge-sheeted employee during the period of alleged irregularity/offence
  2. Potential Loss, Irrecoverable Loss and Loss due to OTS
  3. Whether it is the first time mistake in the career of the officer/staff?
  4. Is the employee known for committing such mistakes habitually?
  5. Did the employee act on his own or as per the instructions of his superiors?
  6. Did the employee attempt to conceal anything during the course of enquiry/investigation?
  7. Did he co-operate with the investigation team and Enquiry Officer whole-heartedly?
  8. Did he ever try to destroy any crucial piece of evidence considered adverse by him?
  9. Did he ever attempt to suppress material facts or to divert and mislead the investigating officer?
  10. Was he given reasonable and adequate opportunity to defend himself fully?
  11. Has he ever worked in the same department or in the same position before this incident?
  12. If yes, for how long?
  13. Is there any specific complaint against him, from a customer or someone whose identity can be verified and established beyond doubt?
  14. What do the performance appraisals of the employee relating to the years under reference indicate?
  15. How was his behavior on the day of the incident? (Suspicious, he was in a disturbed state of mind, he was restless, he was in a hurry to leave the office to catch a train etc.)
  16. Has the bank analyzed the personal spending habits of the employee?
  17. What is the Relationship between the employee and the investigation officer?
  18. Was the investigation officer given full freedom, while discharging his duties insofar as this particular case?
  19. Describe the exact role of the superiors in finalizing the contents of the investigating officer's report - How can it be termed?

(a)  Neutrality and Impartiality

(b)  Simple administrative guidance

(c)  Advisory in nature

(d)  Interference and Influence

(e) Corrections/Alterations, resulting in change of the basic character of the report, thus leading to an outcome that is totally opposite to the facts and evidences on record.

Disclaimer: [The articles written by author contains only the academic view of the writer and purely for discussions and updation of the knowledge of the bankers. The views expressed in the articles may not at all be subscribed by the organisation where the author is working and / or]

You can give your feedback / comments about this Article.   Please give only relevant comments as irrelevant comments are waste of time for yourself and our other readers.



blog comments powered by Disqus