SC permits courts to refer to Parliamentary Committee reports

May 9, 2018 16:40 IST
SC permits courts to refer to Parliamentary Committee reports

The Supreme Court on May 9, 2018 ruled that the courts can look into Parliamentary Standing Committee reports and take them into record while deciding on an issue.

The decision was taken by a five-judge constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan. The constitution bench unanimously held that placing reliance on Parliamentary Committee Reports in court proceedings does not violate the parliamentary privileges.

However, the bench made it clear that the parliamentary reports cannot be challenged in Courts.

SC Judgement: Key Highlights

  • The court stated that the parliamentary standing committee reports were in public domain and hence, relying on them would not be in violation of parliamentary privileges.
  • In a separate but concurring judgment, Justice D Y Chandrachud said, "there is no reason or justification" that the report of the Parliamentary Committee is not within the preview of the courts.
  • However, the reports cannot be impinged or challenged in a court of law.

Significance

The judgment will help NGOs, which frequently file PILs in the SC, to rely on Parliamentary Standing Committee reports that are often critical of the government to seek relief for people under various welfare schemes.

Background

• The judgment by the five-judge bench came up on a question whether such reports could be relied upon while deciding an issue.

• A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India in April, 2017 referred the following questions for the consideration of Constitution Bench:

1. Whether in a litigation filed before this Court either under Article 32 or Article 136 of the Constitution of India, the court can refer to and place reliance upon the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee?

2. Whether such a Report can be looked at for the purpose of reference and, if so, can there be restrictions for the purpose of reference.

• The issue was rooted in a public interest plea that was filed by a petitioner called Kalpana Mehta, who questioned the efficacy of a vaccine produced by two drug companies for the treatment of cervical cancer.

 

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