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What is an Inquiry Commission? Meaning and Its Powers

Meaning of Inquiry Commission

The commissions of inquiry are always set up in India under the provision of The Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952. The task of such a commission is to collect all the relevant information, data and concerning documents, etc., for its examination and to determine its conclusion on the subject matter of public importance. The Government's duty is to see to it that whenever any dispute arises on issues of public concern, it may set up an Inquiry Commission to find out the correct position of such matter.

The Government can establish the Inquiry Commission by promulgating a notification in Gazette. The number of members appointed to a commission depends upon the purpose of inquiry and the decision of Government always final in that regard. Sometimes, a single-member Commission is also formed while, in other cases, it may consist of more than one member. The members (including the Chairperson) of such a commission are often retired judges of the High Courts or Supreme Court.

The Inquiry Commission has to work within the statutory powers granted to it by ‘The Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952’ and according to the guidance laid down by the Government in this regard. The commission is obligated to submit its report to the Government on the given fact or facts in issue within a stipulated time.

Powers of Inquiry Commission

The Inquiry Commission possesses the powers of civil court under the provisions of civil procedure code in the following matters:

  1. Summon (to call) a person for his attendance in or to examine him on oath.
  2. Search and production of documents.
  3. Take evidence on oath.
  4. Call for a document or its copy from any office or court.
  5. Issue commission for examination of documents or any witness.
  6. Any other matter that may be deemed significant and necessary.

The Inquiry Commission has the power to call any individual to give relevant information or produce the desired document within the court. Here, those persons who have been granted any special immunity from the law, for a time being, in force are an exception to such a call.

The proceedings of Inquiry Commission are deemed to be a judicial inquiry, in terms of Section 193 or 228 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860.

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