Madurai: Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled that NGOs could not be prevented from forming fact-finding teams to probe violent incidents on the ground it
would amount to holding a parallel enquiry especially if the issue is sub-judice or under a judicial commission`s scrutiny.
Parallel enquiries by various commissions such as National/state Human Rights commission, National Commission for Women, National Commission for SC and STs have come to be recognised already, Justice V Ramasubramanian said.
Law had recognised several types of enquiries, apart from the investigation that could be conducted in terms of the code of criminal procedure, he said, dismissing a petition
filed by a police inspector seeking to ban a public probe ordered by some Non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) into the Paramakudi firing incident.
Seven persons were killed in the firing during a protest by Dalits at Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram district on Sept 11.
In some cases special investigation teams were set up and they were monitored by courts themselves, the judge said.
"Even international organisations, which had a conflict-resolving or peace-keeping mandate or which deal with human rights problems today possessed an implied power to
establish ad hoc fact-finding bodies."
"Ever since World war II, the international community has grown increasingly towards the development of a system of international jurisdiction, complementary to that of domestic
courts, even to try people accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity" he said.
Amnesty and other international Organisations go on fact-finding missions, the judge pointed out.
Since 1967, the UN Commission on Human Rights had established several fact finding bodies. The Editors Guild of India itself had sent a fact finding mission to Gujarat in
aftermath of communal riots that took place in February 2002, the judge said.
"The argument that there cannot be a parallel inquiry by NGO cannot be accepted," Justice V Ramasubramanian said.
However, the conclusions reached by the fact-finding committees were not binding on any authority including the courts which would be carried away only by the evidence let in
before it and not by the conclusions of fact-finding teams appearing in news reports.
The fact-finding team which had been set up under the banner of action committee against Paramakudi police firing in the present case could not even compel the petitioner
P Sivakumar, inspector of Paramakudi, to appear and testify before it. "...the petitioner cannot be said to be aggrieved by the exercise undertaken by the action committee," the judge said.