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Report No. 24

15. Costs.-

The fifth question raised relates to cost which may be examined from two aspects-

(a) costs of witnesses;

(b) costs of persons whose conduct is in question.

So far as costs of witnesses are concerned, we are suggesting a provision in the rule-making section.1 As regards costs of a person whose conduct is in question, it is contended that the State should pay his costs if he succeeds and conversely he should be made to pay the costs if the findings are against him. It is observed that 'it seems unfair that persons should either be put to a very considerable expense of defending themselves or run the risk of things going against them because they cannot afford the costs'. It is further contended that the provision about the payment of costs would act as some sort of a brake on irresponsible, time-wasting and obstructive tactics.

This question has been raised in England also, but, so far as we have been able to gather, no final decision has been reached. Neither the English Act nor the Australian nor the Canadian Act provides for costs. The reasons are not far to seek. In any inquiry of the nature under consideration which is held in the public interest, there are no parties. The Tribunal is a purely fact-finding body and does not adjudicate upon the rights of any persons. In these circumstances, we do not think that any provision should be made in the Act in respect of costs.

1. App I, section 12 as proposed to be amended.

Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 Back

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