1. A domestic inquiry is an internal hearing held by an employer to ascertain whether an employee is guilty of misconduct.  The purpose of a domestic inquiry is to find out the truth of the allegations made against the workman.

2. The Industrial Court, in the course of adjudicating whether a dismissal is without just cause or excuse within the context of Section 20 of the Industrial 
Relations Act 1967, does not merely examine whether there were proper grounds for the employer to terminate the services of the employee but also examines whether the process by which the employee was terminated was fair or unfair.

3. This aspect of “procedural fairness” in the taking of disciplinary action, against an employee may often be a crucial factor in deciding whether the dismissal will be upheld by the Court.

4. It is therefore, imperative to recognise that upholding a dismissal in the Industrial Court involves satisfying 2 criteria:

(a) That there were proper grounds for terminating the employee;
(b) That the procedure by which the employee was terminated was fair.

5. In conducting a domestic inquiry the rules of natural justice must be adhered to.  Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done; the “twin pillars” of natural justice being “No person shall be condemned unheard” and “No person shall sit in judgment in his own cause or in any in which he is 

6. It is in this context that the importance of conducting a proper domestic inquiry assumes significance.

7. The domestic inquiry should not be regarded by the employer as a “mere formality” nor an unnecessary inconvenience but an integral part of the disciplinary process whereby the employer can establish that the termination of the employee was with just cause or excuse.  The objective of holding a domestic inquiry is twofold.  Firstly, to give the opportunity to the employer to prove  the  charges  of  misconduct  against  a  delinquent  employee  before punishment  is  meted  out  and  secondly  to  give  the  employee  sufficient opportunity to defend himself/herself.

8. Rather than view the domestic inquiry as burden on the management, and an unnecessary waste of time, resources and expense, the employer, should view the process of the inquiry as a means to show that every possible means was made available to avail the employee of meeting the charges against him and, if possible, clearing himself.


Based on the above description of domestic enquiry, we understand that the term domestic enquiry is mainly used to refer to an enquiry into the charges of indiscipline and misconduct by an employee. In common parlance, domestic enquiry means departmental enquiry or domestic  tribunal.  In  such enquiries, the  matter  is  decided  by administrative officers and not by courts of law. In cases of alleged indiscipline, it is common for disciplinary authorities in a department or in  an  industry  to  appoint  an  officer  or  officers  to  inquire into  the allegations against an employee. These enquiries are commonly known as ‘Domestic Enquiries’.


1. Rule of Natural Justice must be observed.

2. The delinquent is entitled to a just hearing.

3. He can call for his own evidence.

4. Cross-examine any witness called by the prosecution.

5. Where rules are laid down, the procedure of such rules must be followed.

6. Disclose to the employee concerned, the documents of records and offer him an opportunity to deal with it.

7. Do not examine any witness in the absence of the employee.

8. The enquiry officer is at liberty to disallow any evidence after recording the reasons in writing.


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