Summary of the Commission of Inquiry Act of 1952
People are increasingly suffering as a result of decisions made by government agencies in the quest for the public good. Political parties and other sections of society are increasingly calling for the formation of an investigation committee. As a result, such an investigation is necessary to obtain the opinions of diverse groups of individuals who may suffer as a direct result of this exercise of administrative power by the involved authority
An extensive investigation and inquiry power are needed by the administration to properly carry out its many duties. Information is collected to decide on a future course of action to deal with a particular circumstance or discover solutions to a given problem.
It also collects data or information about a certain issue that is of public interest. Act’s primary objectives include regulation, law enforcement, dispute adjudication, supervision, licensing, information gathering, and taking action against the accused.
Investigations and inquiries are crucial means of obtaining information, thus. Such information is needed by the government as a kind of feedback while formulating policies. In addition, it is a valuable source of information for the public. Commissioners of Inquiry Act, 1952, authorises the federal and state governments to form inquiry commissions to undertake enquiries into certain public issues. This is a central law passed under Schedule VII, List I and III of the Constitution.
The government used to order the public either by executive order or notice under the Public Servants Inquiries Act, 1850 or by ad hoc committees before the ratification of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952. (committees made for a special purpose and after the purpose is fulfilled it gets dissolved). The Act is not limited to any one type of issue, but rather covers a wide range of issues. The first inquiry in independent India, the Chagla Commission was set up by the Indian government to determine whether the money of India’s Life Insurance Corporation had been appropriately used. According to experts, the government-approved method is cumbersome and inefficient. To fulfil the ever-increasing need for an independent and unbiased public inquiry.
A government can appoint an investigation committee if it deems it essential, or if a resolution is voted by the Lok Sabha or a state legislative assembly (Section 3). The commission’s appointment will be announced in the government gazette. The administration must form a commission of inquiry when a resolution of the house of people or a state legislative assembly calls for it.
Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952
With the passage of this act, the creation of commissions to investigate problems affecting the public is made possible. To the extent that it also relates to Jammu & Kashmir, this Act is applicable throughout India. It only becomes effective when the central government, by a public notice in an official journal, appoints a commission.
According to Section 2 of the Commission of Investigation Act, “appropriate Government” implies only the Central and State governments have the power to appoint a commission to undertake an inquiry into any of the items that are specified in List I, List II, or List III of the Constitution’s Seventh Schedule. Moreover, “commission” refers to a commission of inquiry formed under Section 3 of the act, and “prescribed” implies that regulations issued under this act should only be referred to in the act itself.
According to section 3, the commission was to be appointed. Section 4 outlines the commission’s responsibilities. The commission is given new authority in section 5 of the act. It also says that the commission cannot require any individual to divulge a secret manufacturing method, save in certain situations, under section 6. When a commission is told that it is no longer needed, it can be disbanded under section 7. Section 8 outlines the steps that the commission must take to carry out its duties and functions.
A person who acts in good faith is protected from legal action under Section 9. A public servant must be appointed as a member of the commission, according to section 10. Other inquiring authorities are also covered by this act, according to section 11, but only in extreme circumstances or whenever the necessity arises. As a last note on this act’s section 12, which grants the commission authority to promulgate regulations to carry out the goals of this act.
More than five amendments have been made to this Act in the last 68 years: The Commissions of Inquiry (Amendment) Act, 1971, The Delegated Legislation Provisions (Amendment) Act, 1985, The Commission of Inquiry (Amendment) Act, 1986, The Commissions of Inquiry (Amendment) Act, 1988, The Commissions of Inquiry (Amendment) Act, 1990
Status and relevance
As a result of its non-judicial nature, a commission of inquiry is not a tribunal. They can investigate, create laws, take notes on evidence and make recommendations but they have no superior authority that can implement their decisions correctly. This is neither a judicial or administrative investigation, but rather an exercise in what is known as an administrative function. Immunities are not accessible to the members of the commission, but they are available to an officer who is responsible for a court of law.
V. Jagannath Rao and Others versus State of Orissa and Others) was an important case that made it apparent that a court of inquiry may be established even though certain cases were pending in the courts. Through its good faith actions, the commission of inquiry, in this case, did not interfere with the court’s authority by performing its responsibilities under the Commission of Inquiry Act. No one may be punished by the committee of inquiry for disliking his proceedings or for violating its directives.
Even after five amendments to the Commission of Inquiries Act of 1958, the gaps have not been closed since we still do not have a permanent body in place. There should be a permanent body or organisation to integrate all the activities of the commissions to avoid the proliferation of commissions and to have a uniform structure or procedure, as there is in England, where the inquiries act of 1958 created a permanent body called Councils of Tribunals.
Author: Shreyas Nair,
Symbiosis Law School, Nagpur / First Year / Law