The Punjab and Haryana High Court Friday directed the Haryana government to present the Dhingra Commission report in a sealed cover before the court along with all the related records after former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda argued that the report contained adverse remarks against him and same was included without following the law under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1952.
The order was passed by the division bench of Justices Ajay Kumar Mittal and Anupinder Singh Grewal during the resumed hearing of Hooda’s petition against the procedure followed by the state government in setting up of the Court of Inquiry headed by Justice (retd) S N Dhingra and the remarks made by the Commission against him without complying with the provisions of law.
However, Additional Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, who represents the Haryana government in the case, opposed the order saying it may not be within the purview of the court to see the report of the Commission as it was required to be placed first before the legislature as per the law. The submission was recorded by the court in the order.
The prayer for the court to open the report was made by Hooda’s counsel Kapil Sibal, who cited the statements of BJP leaders and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to argue that the report may contain adverse observations against Hooda and in that case the Commission had to give him the right of a hearing under Section 8-B of the Commissions of Inquiry Act.
“Why should my fundamental right of reputation not be protected,” Sibal submitted in the court. “I (Hooda) was never issued notice with regard to the adversarial comments. It was never said that the Court of Inquiry was looking into my conduct as Chief Minister.”
With the State opposing the opening of the report by the court, the division bench adjourned the case for hearing on September 23 for further arguments.
Sibal on Friday concluded his arguments in the case seeking quashing of the report. Mehta will make final arguments on September 26.
During the hearing, Sibal also cited a number of Supreme Court judgments to support Hooda’s case against the legality of the Commission and pleaded that the government did not have enough material available with it to order a Court of Inquiry.
He also raised questions over government’s failure to submit any response to the CAG report which is said to be the basis for the government to set up the commission.
Dhingra Commission was set up in 2015 to probe grant of licences for development of commercial colonies in Gurgaon. The case is currently in the final stage as both the State and Hooda have concluded their main arguments in the case.
Meanwhile, Justice Anupinder Singh Grewal, during the hearing, also made a general observation with regard to the setting up of the Commissions of Inquiry and said that the time has come to make such appoints in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court.