Supreme Court: Writing down a 338-page-long verdict, the 5-judge Constitution Bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar, Dr. DY Chandrachud, Dr. AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ held:
“Parliamentary Standing Committee Report or any Parliamentary Committee Report can be taken judicial notice of and regarded as admissible in evidence, but it can neither be impinged nor challenged nor its validity can be called in question.”
CJI, writing for himself and Khanwilkar, J said:
“The Constitution itself being a dynamic, lively and ever-changing document adapts to the paradigm of epochs. That being the situation, it is also for this Court to take a fresh look and mould the existing precepts to suit the new emerging situations.”
He further concluded:
- Where the fact is contentious, the petitioner can always collect the facts from many a source and produce such facts by way of affidavits, and the Court can render its verdict by way of independent adjudication.
- The Parliamentary Standing Committee report being in the public domain can invite fair comments and criticism from the citizens as in such a situation, the citizens do not really comment upon any member of the Parliament to invite the hazard of violation of parliamentary privilege.
Chandrachud, J, writing for himself and Sikri, J said:
“As a matter of principle, there is no reason or justification to exclude the report of a Parliamentary Standing Committee from the purview of the judicial process, for purposes such as understanding the historical background of a law, the nature of the problem, the causes of a social evil and the remedies which may provide answers to intractable problems of governance.”
He, however, added that no Member of Parliament or person can be made liable for what is stated in the course of the proceedings before a Parliamentary Committee or for a vote tendered or given.
Bhushan, J, in his detailed judgment explained that the Parliamentary Committee Reports cannot be treated as conclusive or binding of what has been concluded in the Report. He said:
“By acceptance of a Parliamentary Committee Report in evidence does not mean that facts stated in the Report stand proved. When issues, facts come before a Court of law for adjudication, the Court is to decide the issues on the basis of evidence and materials brought before it and in which adjudication Parliamentary Committee Report may only be one of the materials, what weight has to be given to one or other evidence is the adjudicatory function of the Court which may differ from case to case.”
[Kalpana Mehta v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 512, decided on 09.05.2018]