NEW DELHI: In a ruling that is set to give a boost to NGOs, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the arguments and findings of parliamentary committee reports can be cited, but not challenged, during court proceedings, adding it would not violate parliamentary privilege.
NGOs frequently file PILs to rely on parliamentary standing committee reports that are often critical of the government, to seek relief for people under welfare schemes. The court’s ruling will help organisations collect evidence in various cases as parliamentary committees have easy access to ‘relevant material’.
In its 338-page verdict, a five-judge bench made it clear that the veracity and conclusions of reports by such committees can’t be questioned in court. “There is separation of power among three organs of democracy and court has to strike balance between legislature and judiciary.” The constitution bench, headed by CJI Dipak Misra, had in Nov 2017 reserved its judgment in the case.
The issue had arisen during the hearing of a PIL alleging irregularities in how pharma companies were conducting clinical trials for prevention of cervical cancer on nearly 24,000 tribal girls in AP and Gujarat.
It was alleged that the Drug Controller General of India granted licence for the vaccines without adequate research on their safety and efficacy, and the health ministry did not inquire into their licensing as sought by a standing committee. The petitioners tried to quote a standing committee report, which found irregularities and illegalities in the way the studies were sanctioned and carried out.