Commission of Inquiry Is A Fact-Finding Body: Maharashtra

Mumbai, January 20: | Updated: Jan 21 2003, 05:30am hrs
The Maharashtra government in its written submission to the Justice SP Kurdukar Commission said that the Commission of Inquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act was neither a court nor a judicial/quasi-judicial body or tribunal. It was only a fact-finding body meant to instruct and advise the government.

The state government further said no dispute was adjudicated by the commission and no right or liability was determined. A commission does not have the power, nor does it render any judgement or enforceable order. Its report was not enforceable proprio vigore and was not binding even on the government, it added.

According to the state government, in none of the cases related to the Dabhol project has any court gone into the issue of validity or justification of the agreements/documents nor has after a trial (with evidence) decided any issues pertaining thereto.

The state government submitted that the Commission was required to investigate the facts which led to the decision of the government and commissions decision would have an important bearing on aspect of public policy involved in respect of the contents of the consent award. Withdrawal of a suit does not operate as res judicata since there has not been any adjudication on merits.

The state government argued that the SP Kurdukar Commission enjoys the confidence of the public. It submitted that a far more important question of public policy and interest arises in discovering the truth, and placing the full facts on record after inquiry by the commission.

The state government submitted that the Bombay High Court in its judgement in the Ramdas Nayak and the Centre for Indian Trade Union petitions had decided issues that Maharashtra State Electricity Board should have followed the process of competitive bidding by inviting global tenders and ought not to have finalised the contract by negotiations. The Maharashtra government could not have given a guarantee and the Union of India could not have given a counter guarantee in the matter, it added. In any event of refusal to grant special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court does not amount to any determination or adjudication on the merits.

Furthermore, the government submitted that in the absence of full pleadings and proceedings before the various courts it was impossible to determine whether any particular issue has been determined, if at all. u

The Supreme Court in the CITU petition on January 23, 2002 has observed that it was awaiting the report of Justice SP Kurdukar Commission, according to the state government.