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Report No. 24

20. Section 3(1)-Constitutional validity.-

Section 3 authorises the appropriate Government to appoint a Commission to inquire into any matter of definite public importance. And where the Central Government appointed a Commission to inquire into the affairs of certain companies and firms in the interests of the investing public, the constitutional validity of section 3 was challenged in the Supreme Court in the case of Ram Krishna Dalmia earlier referred to.1 It was argued that Parliament in authorising the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry, and the Government in appointing a Commission had arrogated to themselves judicial powers which do not in the very nature of things belong to their respective domains, which must be purely legislative and executive respectively.

This contention was negatived by the Court on the ground that the Commission merely investigates facts and records its finding, and even if it were to make recommendations, it has no power to enforce them. An inquiry before a Commission is not a judicial inquiry, because no "judicial functions" properly so called are exercised by it, and in the circumstances there could be no question of usurpation by Parliament or the Government of the powers of the judicial organs of the Union.

The second attack was based on the ground that the Act conferred upon the Government an arbitrary and uncontrolled discretion as regards the appointment of a Commission and was therefore void under Article 14 of the Constitution. This argument was also negatived by the Court by pointing out that the power to appoint a Commission is vested only in the Government and, further, such an appointment can be made only where a definite matter of public importance required to be looked into and not for any other purpose.

Section 3 is therefore constitutionally proper.

1. Para. 19, supra.

Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 Back

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