New Delhi, Oct 12 (PTI) The Supreme Court today commenced hearing on the issue whether it can rely upon or refer to a parliamentary committee report during judicial proceedings before it.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra heard the arguments of senior advocate Harish Salve on the issue.

The other members of bench include Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan.

The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on October 24.

While referring the matter to five-judge constitution bench on April 5, the apex court had said it “might be crossing the boundary of federal structure” if it acts on the basis of a parliamentary committee report in a public interest litigation (PIL).

It had said it is of “prima facie view” that the Parliamentary Standing Committee report may not be tendered as a document to augment the stance on the factual score that a particular activity is unacceptable or erroneous.

The top court had then framed two questions — one, whether in a litigation filed before this Court either under Article 32 or Article 136 of the Constitution, the Court can refer to and place reliance upon the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

The second question framed for the constitution bench was “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 regard being had to the concept of parliamentary privilege and the delicate balance between the constitutional institutions that Articles 105, 121 and 122 of the Constitution conceive”.

The case came up for hearing in apex court in 2012 and centered around on many an aspect relating to action taken by the Drugs Controller General of India and the Indian Council of Medical Research pertaining to approval of a vaccine, called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) manufactured by M/s GlaxoSmithKline Asia Pvt Ltd and MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, respectively for preventing cervical cancer in women.

The issue arose untimely death of certain persons and grant of compensation.

During the course of hearing, attention of the court was drawn to the 81st Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee dated December 22, 2014.

When the report of this Committee was produced, the question arose before the court with regard to the “concept of consent” for administration of vaccine and the resultant illness suffered by the victims.

The court had then asked the states for their response on the steps that have been taken by the concerned Governments keeping in view the various instructions given from time to time including what has been stated in the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Centre and state governments have maintained their stand that the vaccine was necessary and steps have been taken to avoid any kind of hazards.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.