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Posted at: Jan 11, 2019, 7:46 AM; last updated: Jan 11, 2019, 10:18 AM (IST)

Dhingra panel: Hooda could not prove mala fide, rules HC

Dhingra panel: Hooda could not prove mala fide, rules HC
Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 10

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday ruled that former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda could not establish that the government’s action of setting up Commission of Inquiry was mala fide. “All that we need to say is that the charge of mala fide has not been brought home against the government or the Haryana Chief Minister,” the Bench asserted.

Referring to the petitioner’s contention that inquiry could be ordered only where matter of public importance had arisen but no such conclusion was drawn, the Bench asserted a Chief Minister held public office. His acts were necessarily public acts. If they were grave enough, they would be definite matters of public importance. “Where there are allegations regarding allotment of land and grant of change of land use during his tenure, there cannot be any issue that it is not a definite matter of public importance… The only question is: Do those allegations, if honestly believed, constitute a definite matter of public importance? We are unable to say that they do not,” the Bench held.

The Bench added the Commission of Inquiries Act indicated that the appropriate government could appoint a Commission of Inquiry only for inquiring into definite matter of public importance. It was a fact-finding body meant only to instruct the government without producing document of a judicial nature. Its findings were not definite like a judgment.

“Whether the subject matter of inquiry is relating to definite matter of public importance varies from case to case depending upon factual matrix in individual case. No strait jacket formula could be evolved to adjudge whether there is definite matter of public importance in constituting a Commission of Inquiry,” the Bench added.

The Bench also held that formation of opinion by the government to constitute a Commission of Inquiry was subjective and ultimate conclusion reached by the state was not justiciable. The Bench also ruled that Council of Ministers’ nod was not a must before appointing a commission.

The CM, Minister-in-Charge of the General Administration Department and Administration of Justice Department, appointed Justice SN Dhingra as the Commission of Inquiry vide order dated May 13, 2015, for probing allotment of land and grant of change of land use in Sector 83, Gurgaon, during the tenure of the previous government. Challenge could not be mounted on the exercise of power on the ground that permission from the Council of Ministers was not taken prior to referring of matter to the commission since the procedure is not contemplated under Business Rules.

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