An administrative agency has the full power to issue a subpoena, as part of its power to investigate. This power of subpoena is not confined to any particular person. The administrative agency has the wide jurisdiction of issuing subpoena to any person from whom the agency can obtain relevant and necessary information, documents, and materials for its investigation[i].
There is no doubt that administrative agencies vested with the power of subpoena can, by compulsory process, require the production of information and documents from persons who are not within the regulatory jurisdiction of such agency. This is to enable the agency to make full analysis of the facts before it can make a reasoned decision. The only requirement for an authorized investigation is that such information and documents should be relevant and material.
Although the subpoenas issued to individuals may affect their constitutionally protected rights, a subpoena can be issued to any person over whom the statutory agency has a regulatory jurisdiction. It is fundamental that an individual’s privacy, both at home and business place should not be intruded. Any process initiated for that purpose should confine within the limits set by the law. The courts have been repeatedly holding that as long as the investigation are for lawful purpose and the information sought are relevant and material to the investigation, the due process is not offended by requiring a person from disclosing the information he has regarding a matter under investigation[ii].
A subpoena can be issued even to a person beyond the regulatory jurisdiction of an administrative agency. Such a person is only testifying the required information. By such investigation, the agency is not adjudicating any rights of the parties. Infact, a great public purpose will be served by such disclosures.
[i] Federal Communications Com. v. Cohn, (154 F. Supp. 899)
[ii] State ex rel. Railroad & Warehouse Com. v. Mees, (235 Minn. 42)