Wednesday, July 23, 2014

SC judge-headed commissions are not courts unto themselves

A five-judge bench headed by chief justice of India R.M. Lodha with justices Anil R. Dave, S.J. Mukhopadhaya, Dipak Misra and S.K. Singh declared that a commission of inquiry set up under a 1952 law was a ‘fact-finding body’ whose recommendations weren’t binding on the government.
It said, "Such commission is not required to adjudicate upon the rights of the parties and has no adjudicatory functions. The government is not bound to accept its recommendations or act upon its findings. The mere fact that the procedure adopted by the commission is of a legal character and it has the power to administer oath will not clothe it with the status of court.

"That being so, in our view, the commission appointed under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 is not a court for the purpose of Contempt of Courts Act even though it is headed by a sitting Supreme Court judge."
Dismissing the contempt petition filed by politician Subramanian Swamy against former Indian Express editor Arun Shourie for an editorial published in the newspaper it said Commission performs only “statutory functions” and is not required to adjudicate.