Govt strengthens procedure for dealing with frivolous complaints against public servants

Institutional support to be provided to affected employees

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, June 20: In order to protect public servants from unwarranted harassment and mental agony, the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has strengthened the procedure for dealing with frivolous, false and anonymous complaints and issued fresh instructions to all the Administrative Departments, Heads of the Departments and Cadre Controlling Authorities.

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A robust and effective mechanism for redressal of complaints against public servants with detailed instructions were issued from time to time with a view to balance the objectives of good governance and for establishing a corruption-free, transparent and responsive administrative system.
Moreover, adequate safeguards were provided for public servants to protect them from unnecessary harassment of false, frivolous, anonymous and pseudonymous complaints. These instructions contained detailed provisions for lodging, handling and verification of complaints as also action against false complaints.
“However, cases of undue harassment through lodging of false and frivolous complaints are being increasingly reported and many a times these complaints, after verification, have been found devoid of any merit and disposed of accordingly”, the General Administration Department said, adding “in the process, the public servants discharging their bonafide duties, face unwarranted harassment and mental agony affecting their decision-making thereby causing administrative inertia, which adversely affects disposal of Government business and public service delivery”.
Keeping all these facts in mind, the Government has now strengthened the procedure for dealing with such complaints so that honest public servants are not unfairly harassed and Government business is not affected.
In the earlier instructions, thrust was laid only on launching prosecution under Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code for making a false complaint, initiating prosecution under Section 195(1)(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 based on a complaint filed with the court by the concerned public servant or another superior public servant and considering departmental action against public servants making false complaints as an alternative to prosecution.
However, the Government has now made provision for providing institutional support to public servants affected by false complaints. Such public servant will be assisted to approach the Crime Branch J&K for initiation of criminal proceedings upon receiving a report or request.
The Government has asked all the Administrative Departments, Heads of the Departments and Cadre Controlling Authorities to facilitate public servants, who have suffered harm as a result of false complaints, to file civil law-suits seeking damages against responsible individuals. This may include compensation for financial losses, emotional distress or harm to deputation with the provision for the public servant to engage a lawyer as per the requirement on contingency fee arrangements subject to available resources for which each case shall be decided on merits.
Moreover, such public servants will be provided assistance of Law Officers from the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs for appropriate legal remedies in respect of acts done in official capacity. Further, formal inquiries by the relevant registering authority will be arranged in case such complaints are filed by any such registered organization.
As per the earlier instructions regarding proper lodging and disposal of complaints, the complaints can be lodged with appropriate authority by addressing a written communication either directly or through electronic mode or on portal available for the purpose. Appropriate authority, after gathering information, may take appropriate action under law against such public servant in a time bound manner under the rules and guidelines issued by the Central Vigilance Commission as well as General Administration Department. However, the complainants have to disclose the identity.
The guidelines regarding disposal of anonymous complaints were issued by the General Administration Department vide Circular No.29-Vig dated July 31, 2014, which were reiterated vide Circular No.22-GAD(Vig) dated July 10, 2015. Thereafter, one more circular was issued on October 3, 2022 wherein it was mentioned that these guidelines were notified in consonance with those issued by the Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievances, Government of India.