National SC panel has limited powers, says Punjab and Haryana High Court

Chandigarh: In an important development, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that constitutional body, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, “does not possess the power of adjudication and has no authority to issue any mandatory injunction or interim injunction”.

Further, Article 338 (5) of the Constitution imposes a duty on the commission to investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes and to conduct inquiries into complaints pertaining to the deprivation of rights and safeguards, observed Justice Vinod S. Bhardwaj, while staying the commission’s directive to the local administration to hand over 28 acres of land in Fatehgarh Sahib in Punjab to Nahar Nath.

It has ordered that the possession of the land should remain with petitioner Vikas Nath.

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“Article 338 (8) vests powers of Civil Court upon the Commission only for limited purposes. The limited scope of power of a Civil Court vested in the Commission is only for enabling it to secure summoning and enforcement of attendance of any person or requiring discovery and production of documents etc.,” the court observed.

After hearing counsel for petitioner Rakesh Chopra, the court stayed the operation of the commission order dated July 26-27. It prima facie agreed with the contention of the petitioner that the powers of the commission are limited.

The high court, while listing the matter for next hearing on November 3, contended that “such order of the commission runs contrary to the Supreme Court judgment”.

The commission had ordered that the right of cultivation should be given after handing over the possession of land owned of a ‘dera’ by the administration to complainant Nahar Nath and adequate security be provided to him.

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