The Supreme Court will decide whether the courts can rely on a parliamentary standing committee report during judicial proceedings.
The issue came before the court when a PIL was filed in 2012 for declicensing two cervical vaccines due to alleged irregulatities in clinical trails. There were reports of people dying due to after effect of these two vaccines – Gardasil and Cervarix, manufactured by Merck Sharp and Dohme and GlaxoSmithKline Plc. The 89th Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSR) on Health and Family Welfare in their December 2014 Report had found grave irregulartities in clinical trails for these vaccines. The report also recorded irregularities in obtaining consent from the clinical trial subjects and the deviation from various established protocols.
When the notice of court was brought to the adverse Standing Committee Report, a question arose whether the Court while exercising the power of judicial review under Article 32 can advert to the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and on that basis issue directions.
The respondents representing the drug companies argued that putting PSR for issuing judicial direction will violate freedom of speech and expression of MPs under Art 105 and also violate art 121, which prohibits court from enquiring into parliamentary proceedings. The court also engaged with the question if PSR being an external aid of interpretation can be relied upon exhaustively to issue judicial directions. The 2 judge bench of Dipak Misra and Rohinton Nariman observed that the question surrounding PSR involves substantial question of law relating to constitutional interpretation. So they referred the issue to a constitutional bench which is being headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice AK Bhusan.
i) Whether, in a litigation filed before this Court either under Article 32 or Article 136 of the Constitution of India, the Court can refer to and rely on a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
ii) Whether such a report can be looked at for the purpose of reference and, if so, can there be restrictions for the purpose of reference due to the concept of parliamentary privilege under Art 105 and Art 121.
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