LCQ4：Civil service disciplinary proceedings and appeals
Following is a question by the Hon Audrey Eu and an oral reply by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Miss Denise Yue, on the civil service disciplinary proceedings and appeals in the Legislative Council today (May 24):
The disciplinary proceedings surrounding the Harbour Fest case conducted by the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) earlier on have been completed. The government officer concerned appealed in October last year to the Chief Executive (CE) against the outcome of the proceedings. It has been reported that there is no requirement regarding the time limit for CE to deal with the relevant appeals, and the average time taken in the past was three to four months. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the commencement and completion dates of the above disciplinary proceedings, and the number of hearings conducted;
(b) of the numbers of cases in which disciplinary proceedings were instituted by CSB and those in which appeals were made to CE by the government officers concerned, and the time taken for CE to process such appeals in each of the past three years; and
(c) whether it has considered establishing a mechanism to provide for a reasonable time limit for CE to deal with the appeals lodged by government officers against the outcome of disciplinary proceedings; if it has, of the details of the mechanism; if not, the reasons for that?
With regard to part (a) of the question, the disciplinary proceedings surrounding the Harbour Fest case commenced on September 28, 2004 and were concluded on October 3, 2005. During the proceedings, the inquiry committee had conducted a hearing made up of 12 (half-day) sessions.
When notified of the decisions made by the Secretary for the Civil Service (SCS) on the outcome of the proceedings, the officer concerned appealed to the Chief Executive (CE) under section 20 of the Public Service (Administration) Order (PS(A)O) against SCS' decisions. The appeal is being dealt with. The Administration will give an account of the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings to the Legislative Council after the appeal has been disposed of.
With regard to part (b) of the question, in the three years ending March 2006, under the PS(A)O, the relevant authority ruled on a total of 874 disciplinary cases following completion of the necessary process (including hearings) by the Secretariat on Civil Service Discipline, made up of 342 disciplinary cases in 2003/04; 297 cases in 2004/05; and 235 cases in 2005/06. Out of these cases, 35 appeals were lodged with CE against the rulings made (including the verdict and the level of punishment awarded), made up of nine appeals in 2003/04; 15 appeals in 2004/05; and 11 appeals in 2005/06. The average span of time taken to process the appeals amounted to 2.1 months in 2003/04; 2.9 months in 2004/05; and two months in 2005/06 calculated on the basis of the seven appeals that had been disposed of. The remaining four appeals lodged to CE in 2005/06 are still being processed. On average, it took the Administration two to three months to process one appeal(Note) over the last three years.
With regard to part (c) of the question, the Administration has laid down internal administrative guidelines on the timeframe for dealing with appeals to CE. In general, the guidelines state that for non-statutory appeals to CE (these include appeals lodged against rulings made in disciplinary cases under the PS(A)O), the Administration should give a reply within two weeks in simple cases, or four weeks in more complicated cases. Where the case is extremely complicated, the Administration should furnish an interim reply within the above timeframe and give a substantive reply as soon as possible. As far as practicable, the Administration has endeavoured to provide replies within the specified timeframe laid down in the administrative guidelines.
Note: For certain categories of officers in the disciplined services departments, their disciplinary cases are processed under statutory provisions in the relevant disciplined service legislation (as opposed to the non-statutory provisions prescribed in the Public Service (Administration) Order). These cases and the appeals arising therefrom have not been included in the foregoing figures.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006