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Punjab State Commission for Non-resident Indians Act, 2011

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

In this blog, we will be covering the NRI Commission and its powers and some other relevant provisions of the Act, which will benefit our readers in understanding why the NRI Commission was constituted and whether its directions are mandatory or advisory in nature. Navkiran Singh and Associates have come across several of NRI clients who were unknown to the concept of the NRI Commission and what its powers entailed. Therefore, we are writing the following blog to educated and inform our readers about the functioning of the NRI commission and which all matters fall within its jurisdiction.

Constitution of the Commission:

The Punjab State Commission for Non-residents Indians Act,2011 received the assent of the Governor of Punjab on the 21st November 2011. That with the need to address the concerns of NRI’s in Punjab, the Government decided to set up a Commission executively for the matters pertaining to NRIs. The Commission shall consist of a Chairman, who shall be a retired judge of the High Court, one member who is or has been an IAS Officer, not below the rank of Principal Secretary or Financial Commissioner, one member who is or has been an IPS Officer, not below the rank of Additional Director General of Police, Two members shall be nominated by the Government from amongst the persons having knowledge of or practical experience in matters and issues relating to Non-residents Indians, and there shall be a Secretary(ex-cadre from PCS Executive), who shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Commission and shall exercise such powers and discharge such functions of the Commission as it may delegate to him. The Headquarters of the Commission shall be located at Chandigarh.

Powers and Functions of the NRI Commission:

The NRI Commission has vast powers under the Act to investigate any matter under the abovementioned Act. The Commission has all the powers of a Civil court trying a suit and in particular, in respect of the following matters, namely:-

a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath;

b) requiring the discovery and production of any documents;

c) receiving evidence on affidavits;

d) requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;

e) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents; and

f) any other matter which may be prescribed.'

That no statement made by a person in the course of giving evidence before the Commission shall be used against him in any civil or criminal proceedings, except for prosecuting him for giving false evidence. Further, it would be relevant to mention that whoever being legally bound to obey any order of the Commission under section 12 or the order of any officer or investigation agency referred to in section 14, intentionally omits to do so or furnishes false information, shall, on conviction, be punished under section 174,175,176,177,178,179, and 180 of the Indian Penal Code, as the case maybe.

The recommendation of the Commission is only Directory in nature and not Mandatory:

Even from the plain reading of the preamble of The Punjab State Commission for Non-Resident Indians Act,2011, it can be very well said that one of the sole purposes of the act is to recommend remedial measures for the welfare of Non-Residents Indians. That as per the ratio laid down in Jatt Ram v. Punjab State Human Rights Commission, 2005 (3) RCR (criminal) 716, any recommendations made by the NRI Commission would not be binding on the Police Officials and not are mandatory in nature. Even in the judgment of Jatt Ram v. Punjab State Human Rights Commission(supra), it has been very clearly mentioned that recommendation of commission is a mere suggestion/directory in nature and primarily it is for State Government to take remedial action. That from the plain reading of the word recommendation, it can be very well said that it means to refer, advised, and suggest. Nowhere can it be suggested that it has any other meaning to it. The word “Recommendations” has very well been explained and elaborated in the Judgment of Jatt Ram v. Punjab State Human Rights Commission(supra). Relevant para 47, of the said judgement is being reproduced as under: -

47. In Chambers 21st Century Dictionary (Revised Edition) also, Recommend has been described to mean to suggest as being suitable to be accepted, chosen etc; to commend."

48. Thus the view taken by us with regard to meaning of the word "recommendations" in Jai Singh's case (supra) stands fully fortified. We reiterate that the word "recommendation" used in Section 18 of the Act necessarily means "to suggest". Such a suggestion cannot be treated to be a decision capable to execution or enforcement.

The Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court, on several occasions, examined powers and functions of the commission in an earlier case before Jatt Ram v. Punjab State Human Rights Commission, in a case titled Jain Singh v. Punjab State Human Rights Commission and another, C.W.P 20075 of 2003 decided on April 02.2005. Similar views were expressed in the Judgement of Jatt Ram v. Punjab State Human Rights Commission. That in Rajinderpal v. State of Punjab, 2009(1) R.C.R(criminal) 613, the Punjab and Haryana High Court took a similar view while considering the Judgement of Jatt Ram v State(supra). The relevant para 7 of the said judgment is being reproduced as under: -

“7. Xx As the law stands, the Commission cannot issue any order or directions to the State but can only make recommendation, which are not binding on the State.”

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