The Commissions of Inquiry Act was enacted on August 14, 1952 for the purpose of appointing Commissions of Inquiry and to impose certain functions and powers on such Commissions. The application of the Act extends o the State of Jammu and Kashmir in matters relating to the inquiry conducted by the commission appointed under the Act.
The Act empowers the State legislature to constitute and appoint a Commission of Inquiry to conduct investigation on any issue that is of public importance and to perform certain responsibilities entrusted to the Commission under the Act. The State legislature shall appoint the Commission only after a resolution has been passed in the Parliament and the appropriate Government desires to appoint a Commission. The Commission shall be appointed after publishing in the Gazette of the concerned State within the prescribed period as provided in the notification. Where a Commission has already been appointed by the Central Government to inquire a particular subject, the State Government shall not appoint another commission for the purpose of conducting inquiry on the same subject so long as the Commission appointed by the Union functions. Moreover, if the State Government has previously appointed a Commission, the Central Government shall not appoint another Commission to investigate the same subject matter. But, if the investigation has to be extended to more than one state the Central Government shall appoint another Commission.
The Commission shall comprise of members representing and appointed by the appropriate Government and one of them shall act as the Chairman. The appropriate Government shall have the authority to fill the vacancies in the Commission during the course of an investigation at any stage. The reports of the Commission shall be laid before the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha or the State legislature by the appropriate Government. The appropriate Government shall also submit the Memorandum of action initiated within six months after submitting the report.
The Commission is entrusted with the powers of a civil court when considering cases under the Civil Procedure Code on issues provided under the Act. The powers of the Commission include call for and insist on the attendance of a person and inspect him, necessitate the detection and production of any records, collect evidence, demand any public document or duplicate copy from the Court, provide commissions for the examination of records or witnesses or any other specified matters connected therewith.
Furthermore, the Commission is also entrusted with certain additional powers as well. The appropriate Government shall extend certain provisions of the Act to the Commission by notifying in the Gazette of India and make directions accordingly. The Commission shall have authority to require a person to supply information on the points alleged by a person that are important for conducting inquiry and the persons demanding such information are legally permitted to supply the information as provided under the Indian Penal Code. The Commission shall enter any building or any premises where there are books of accounts or any other records that are essential for conducting inquiry. The procedures of the Commission shall be judicial proceeding as provided under the Indian Penal Code. The Commission shall have power to utilize services of any Commission or any official or investigating agency appointed either by Central Government or State Government to conduct investigation and study relating to the inquiry. The Commission shall appoint assessors who are persons with special knowledge for the purpose of assisting and guiding the Commission in conducting inquiry. The appropriate Government is empowered under the Act to formulate rules to put into operation the provisions of the Act.
The Commissions of Inquiry Act was amended by enacting The Commissions of Inquiry (.Amendment) Act, 1971 and also framed The Commissions Of Inquiry (Central) Rules, 1972The Commission of Inquiry was further amended in 1986, 1988 and in 1990.