Essay on the Importance of Discipline in Public Administration

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(i) Authority to Take Disciplinary Action: One of the major issues with regard to the discipP matters is as to which authority should take disciplinary action.

Usually the power to appoint the o lies with the Government, with the Head of the Department or somewhere below him in the organize the authority to take disciplinary action naturally lies there. There are two views about this matter.

One view is that the authority to take disciplinary action should remain with the Head oil Department of the appointing authority below him. The advantage of this system is that it pro effective control of the Head of the Department over his employees. In fact, it is he who is responsible achieving the objectives of the organization through his employees. He should, therefore, have full control over them.

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The disadvantage of this system is that it does not inspire confidence in the employees. It puts the Head of the Department in the position of a prosecutor as well as the judge.

The other view is that the authority to take disciplinary action should lie outside the organization. It may be the Civil Service Commissioner or an independent Board or Tribunal.

It is argued that it will inspire confidence in the employees. The independent body will be able to examine the case dispassionately and is expected to decide it judiciously.

The disadvantages of the system are:

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(a) It undermines the authority of the Head of the Department

(b) The circumstances which make the Board/ Commission, etc. an impartial authority which is the main objective also make them more remote from the scene. They may be human principles of abstract justice rather than the problem of the organization.

(c) When the employees see that their disciplinary cases are dealt with an outside organization, they are encouraged for indulging in more and more litigations.

The proponents of this view argue that even if the disciplinary authority is to be vested in the Head of the Department to maintain his control, the appellate authority may be placed outside the organization. However, this system has the same disadvantages as mentioned above.

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It may also have an additional disadvantage of creating highly embarrassing situation for the Head of the Department when his orders are set aside by the outside commission.

Employees Interest V/s Public Interest:

Another important issue regarding disciplinary matters is the conflict between the interest of the delinquent employee and the public interest; it is true that an employee has to be given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the action proposed to be taken against him. However, the various provisions of laws and procedures have been so interpreted as to let the employees go without punishment for mere technical flaws in conducting the inquiries.

In India as well as in Western counties like USA and UK, terms like “innocent until proved guilty, exist in law. In such a situation the doubts and consequently the disciplinary authority tend to give precedence to technicalities over the equality.

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The main principle should normally be that only those technicalities should vitiate the proceedings which could have affected the inquiries, mainly which could have misled the delinquent official in his defence.

In fact, a proper balance should be drawn between the awareness of the need for the protection of the workers against arbitrary action and the danger that an over-protective philosophy may create an undisciplined and mediocre work force.

Handicaps to Disciplinary Authority:

O. Glenn Stahl has also raised an important issue concerning the handicaps of the government in dealing with delinquent officials belonging to some special groups. For example if belonging to SC/ST or a minority community or a backward class, the issue is immediately made to take a communal colour. In most such cases the disciplinary authority is often reduced to be in the position of an accused. It is presumed that the action is mala fide until the contrary is proved.

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It unfortunately only means confusing social reform with the restriction on the executive power. This has the effect of curbing the initiative of the disciplinary authority and lessening his control over the employees. The inevitable result is again an undisciplined work force.

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