Supreme Court: Courts can rely on parliamentary panel reports for deciding a case

Team SoOLEGAL 10 May 2018 5:22pm

Supreme Court: Courts can rely on parliamentary panel reports  for deciding a case

New Delhi: A five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging irregularities in clinical trials for cervical cancer prevention conducted by pharma companies, including GlaxoSmithKline Ltd. and MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. on nearly 24,000 tribal girls in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, observed that SC could take on record a parliamentary standing committee’s report for deciding the case but independent adjudication would rest with the court itself.The court further said relying on such reports also did not amount to violation of parliamentary privilege.

"In a litigation filed either under Article 32 or Article 136 of the Constitution, this Court can take on record the report of Parliamentary Standing Committee. However, the report cannot be impinged or challenged in a court of law," the bench also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan said.

The PIL alleged that death of some young girls in Andhra in  2008 was due to administration of cervical cancer vaccines and their families have not been adequately compensated.The petitioners, seeking compensation for the victims families, had relied on the 81st Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee of December 22, 2014, which had had found irregularities in clinical trials conducted for two vaccines—Gardasil and Cervarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Ltd. and MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. It was alleged that the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) granted licence for the vaccines without adequate research on their safety and efficacy and that the health ministry did not inquire into their licensing as sought by a parliamentary standing committee.

The SC said report of a parliamentary committee can be relied upon in courts for interpretation of statutory provisions wherever necessary, but at the same time it made it clear these reports can not be questioned or  challenged in a court of law.The court further stated that parliamentary standing committee reports are admissible under the Section 57(4) of  Evidence Act.

PIL was sent back to the two-judge bench, which was initially hearing the vaccine matter.

Tagged: SC   Parliament Standing Committee Report   PIL  
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