Office Procedure - FILE MANAGEMENT



Movement of files

13. Standard Process Sheets -

For dealing with cases of repetitive nature e.g. leave sanction, GPF Advances, HBA etc., standard process sheets may be devised by the respective Ministries/Departments. No notes need be recorded in such cases.

14. Level of disposal and channel of submission -

(i) Each Ministry/Department shall lay down a detailed scheme of delegation at all levels so that the decision making takes place at the most appropriate level. This shall be updated from time to time and placed in public domain.

(ii) The number of levels through which a file passes for a decision shall not exceed four.

(iii) Wherever level jumping is done in respect of any category of cases, each such case on its return, will pass through all the levels jumped over, who in suitable cases could resubmit the cases for reconsideration.

(iv) In case of urgent matters, the decisions may be conveyed directly to the officer concerned for implementation, who after doing the same, shall bring it to the notice of the levels of officers, that have been jumped in the hierarchy.

15. Guidelines for noting -

(i) All notes shall be concise and to the point. Additional material, if any, may be placed in the appendix. Black or Blue ink shall be used by all categories of staff and officers. In case of hand written noting, only black or blue ink shall be used.

(ii) The dealing hand shall append full signature, name and date on the left below the note. An officer shall append full signature on the right hand side of the note with name, designation and date. In an electronic environment digital signature will be appended at each level.

(iii) While preparing/submitting Notes for the Cabinet/Cabinet Committees/Groups of Ministers & Committee of Secretaries, constitution/reconstitution of High-level Commissions/Committees, the format prescribed in Cabinet Secretariat website ( (as amended from time to time) may be followed.

16. Modification of notes or orders -

(i) Senior officers should not require any modification in, or replacement of, the notes recorded by their juniors once they have been submitted to them. Instead, the higher officers should record their own notes giving their views on the subject, where necessary correcting or modifying the facts given in earlier notes.

(ii) Pasting over a note or a portion of it to conceal, shall not be done. Where a note recorded in the first instance requires any modification on account of additional facts or any error having come to notice, a subsequent note may be recorded, keeping the earlier note intact.

(iii) Where a final decision already communicated to a party is found later on to have been given on a mistaken ground or incorrect facts or wrong interpretation of rules due to misunderstanding, such withdrawal may have also legal implications. In all such cases, in addition to consulting the Ministry of Law, wherever necessary, such a withdrawal should be permitted only after the approval of an officer higher than the one, who took the original decision, has been obtained and reasons for the reversal or modification of the earlier decision have been duly recorded on the file.

17. Noting on files received from other departments -

(i) If the reference seeks the opinion, ruling or concurrence of the receiving Department and requires detailed examination, such examination may be done separately through routine notes on a separate file (which will be created by the receiving Department). Only the final result will be recorded on the file by the officer concerned.

(ii) The receiving Department shall open subject-wise file each year in which such routine notes will be kept. The inter-departmental note recorded on the file of the originating department will bear the subject file number to facilitate retrieval for future reference and storage in electronic environment.

(iii) Where the reference requires information of a factual nature or other action based on a clear precedent or practice, the dealing hand in the receiving department may note on the received file straightway.

(iv) Where a note is recorded by an officer after obtaining the orders of a higher officer, the fact that the views expressed therein have the approval of the latter should be specifically mentioned, in the note to be recorded on the file of the originating Department.

18. Aids to processing -

Each section shall keep in the knowledge management system of the Department the following records/electronic records for important subjects dealt with by it:

(a) precedent book;

(b) standard process sheets; and

(c ) transcripts of important discussions and minutes.

(d) copies of Acts, rules, orders and instructions concerning the subjects dealt with each Department shall be maintained both in physical form as well as on the website.;

(e) Guard file.

19. Oral discussions -

(i) All points emerging from discussions (including telephonic discussions) between two or more officers of the same Department or from discussions between officers of different Departments, and the conclusions reached shall be recorded precisely on the relevant file at the earliest, by the officer authorizing action.

(ii) All discussions/instructions/decisions which the officer recording them considers to be important enough for the purpose, should be got confirmed by all those who have participated in or are responsible for them.

20. Oral instructions by higher officers -

(i) Where an officer is giving direction (including telephonic direction) for taking action in any case in respect of matters on which the officer or subordinate has powers to decide, the subordinate shall ordinarily do so in writing. If, however, the circumstances of the case are such that there is no time for giving the instructions in writing, they should follow it up by a written confirmation at the earliest.

(ii) When an officer is acting under instructions of an official superior, he shall obtain the directions in writing wherever practical before carrying out the instructions. Where it is not possible to do so, he shall obtain written confirmation of the directions, as soon thereafter as possible. If the officer giving the instructions is not the immediate official superior but is one higher to the latter in the hierarchy, the officer shall bring such instructions to the notice of the immediate superior at the earliest, and thereafter the latter will obtain the written confirmation of the directions from the senior officer who gave the instructions.

21. Oral orders on behalf of or from Minister:-

(i) Whenever a member of the personal staff of a Minister communicates to any officer an oral order on behalf of the Minister, it shall be confirmed by her/him in writing, immediately thereafter.

(ii) If any officer receives oral instructions from the Minister or from her/his personal staff and the orders are in accordance with the norms, rules, regulations or procedures they should be brought to the notice of the Secretary (or the head of the department where the officer concerned is working in or under a non-secretariat organization).

(iii) In all cases of oral/orders which are not in accordance with the norms, rules, regulations or procedures, clear orders from the Secretary (or the head of the department in case she/he is working in or under a non-secretariat organization) should be sought about the line of action to be taken, stating clearly that the oral instructions are not in accordance with the rules, regulations, norms or procedures.

(iv) In rare and urgent cases when the Minister is on tour/is unwell and the approval has to be taken urgently on telephone, the decision of the Minister shall be conveyed by the Private Secretary. In such cases, confirmation of Minister shall be obtained, subsequently at the earliest.

22. Confirmation of oral instructions -

(i) If an officer seeks confirmation of oral instructions given by his superior, the latter should confirm it in writing whenever such confirmation is sought.

(ii) Receipt of communications from junior officers seeking confirmation of oral instructions shall be acknowledged by the senior officers or their personal staff, or the personal staff of the Minister, as the case may be.

23. Filing of papers -

(i) Papers required to be filed will be punched neatly on the left hand top corner and tagged onto the appropriate part of the file viz. notes, correspondence, appendix to notes and appendix to correspondence, in chronological order, from right to left.

(ii) Both notes portion’ and correspondence portion’ will be placed in a single file cover.

(a) Left end of tag in the note portion will be tagged on to the left side of the file cover and right end of the tag will remain as such i.e. untagged.

(b) In the case of correspondence portion, right side of the tag will be tagged onto the right side of the same file cover and left side of the tag will remain as such i.e. untagged.

(iii) Reference to previous communications should invariably indicated in the fresh receipt, if there is a mention about it.

(iv) (a) If the file is not bulky, appendix to notes and appendix to correspondence may be kept along with the respective note portion or the correspondence portion of the main file if these are considered as integral and important part.

(b) If the file is bulky, separate file covers may be used for keeping appendix to notes and appendix to correspondence.

(v) When the 'notes’ plus the correspondence’ portion of the file become bulky (say exceeds 150-200 pages), it will be marked Volume I’. Further papers on the subject will be added to the new volume of the same file, which will be marked `Volume II’, and so on. In Volume II and subsequent volumes of the same file, page numbering in notes portion and correspondence portion will be made in continuity of the last page number in note portion/correspondence portion of the earlier volume.

(vi) On top of the first page of the note portion in each volume of the file, file number, name of the Ministry/Department, name of branch/section subject of the file and classification of file will be mentioned. A similar procedure will be followed on file cover also.

24. Arrangement of papers in a case.—

The papers in a case will be arranged in the following order from top downwards:

(i) reference books;

(ii) notes portion of the current file ending with the note for consideration;

(iii) running summary of facts;

(iv) draft for approval, if any;

(v) correspondence portion of the current file ending with the latest receipt or issue, as the case may be;

(vi) appendix to notes and correspondence;

(vii) standing guard file, standing note or reference folder, if any;

(viii) other papers, if any, referred to e.g., extracts of notes or correspondence from other files, copies of orders, resolutions, gazettes, arranged in chronological order, the latest being placed on the top;

(ix) recorded files, if any, arranged in chronological order, the latest being placed on the top; and

(x) routine notes and papers arranged in chronological order and placed in a separate cover.

25. Referencing -

(i) Every page in each part of the file (viz. Notes, correspondence, appendix to notes and appendix to correspondence) will be consecutively numbered in separate series on the top right hand corner. In an electronic environment the number of page and Serial number of Receipts/Issue will be generated automatically. The docketing will also take place immediately below the note which has culminated in issuance of fair signed communication(s) in question.

(ii) The drafts of letters issued having crucial policy, financial and vigilance implications, where the drafts have been changed by Senior Officers in the process of movement of files upwards, barring grammatical corrections should also form a part of the correspondence portion, which shall be numbered ad seriatim.

(iii) The document under consideration on a file shall be flagged ‘PUC’ and the latest fresh receipt noted upon, as ‘FR’. If there is more than one ‘FR’ they shall be flagged separately as ‘FRI’, ‘FRII’ and so on.

(iv) to facilitate the identification of reference to documents contained in other files after the removal of linked file(s), the number of the file referred to will be quoted invariably in the note. Similarly, the number and date of orders, notifications and the resolutions, and, in the case of acts, rules and regulations, their brief title together with the number of the relevant section, rule paragraph or clause, referred to shall be quoted in the notes.

26. Linking of files -

If the issues raised in two or more current files are inter-connected, the relevant files shall be linked. After completion of action, the linked files be de-linked after taking relevant extracts.

27. Use of urgency grading -

(i) The urgency grading advised are ‘Immediate’, ‘Priority’ and ‘Top Priority’.

(ii) The label ‘Immediate’ will be used only in cases requiring prompt attention. Amongst the rest, the ‘Priority’ label will be used for cases which merit disposal in precedence to others of ordinary nature. ‘Top Priority’ will be applied in extremely urgent cases.

(iii) Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha labels shall be used for appropriate cases which merit disposal in precedence to others of ordinary nature. The file covers of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Questions, Motions etc. are to be in red colour and green colour respectively, in order to facilitate their identification for urgent dealing.