Tribunalisation Of Judiciary

Topics covered

  • What Is A Tribunal?
  • Tribunalization Of Justice In India
  • Article 323-A
  • Article 323-B  
  • Issues With Tribunalisation
  • Conclusion

What Is A Tribunal?

  • Tribunal is an administrative body established for the purpose of discharging quasi-judicial duties.
  • Tribunals relieve the burden of judiciary and provide quick and speedy justice.
  • It is to be noted that tribunals are not courts because courts follow the Courts are governed by strict procedure defined in CrPC, IPC and the Indian Evidence Act whereas tribunals are driven by the principles of natural justice.

Tribunalization of Justice in India

  • Tribunals were added in the Constitution by Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976 as Part XIV-A, which has only two articles viz. 323-A and 323-B.
  • While article 323-A deals with Administrative Tribunals; article 323-B deals with tribunals for other matters.
  • In general sense, the ‘tribunals’ are not courts of normal jurisdiction, but they have very specific and predefined work area
  • The administrative tribunals are not original invention of the Indian Political System.
  • They are well established in all democratic countries of Europe as well as United States of America.

Article 323-A

  • Article 323-A of the constitution which  empowers the parliament to provide for the establishment of administrative tribunals for adjudicating the disputes relating to recruitment and conditions of service of a person appointed to public service of centre, states, local bodies, public corporations and other public authority.
  • Accordingly parliament has enacted Administrative Tribunals Act,1985 which authorizes parliament to establish Centre and state Administrative tribunals (CAT & SATs).
  • Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT):
    • It was set up in 1985 with the principal bench at Delhi and additional benches in other states ( It now has 17 benches, 15 operating at seats of HC’s and 2 in Lucknow and Jaipur.
    • It has original jurisdiction in matters related to recruitment and service of public servants (All India services, central services etc).
    • Its members have a status of High Court judges and are appointed by president.
    • Appeals against the order of CAT  lie before the division of High Court after Supreme Court’s Chandra Kumar Judgement.
  • State Administrative Tribunals
    • Central government can establish state administrative tribunals on request of the state according to Administrative tribunals act of 1985
    • SAT’s enjoy original jurisdiction in relation to the matters of state government employees.
    • Chairman and members are appointed by President in consultation with the governor.

Article 323-B  

  • Article 323-B  which empowers the parliament and the state legislatures to establish tribunals for adjudication of disputes related to following matters
    • Taxation
    • Foreign exchange, Imports and Exports
    • Industry and Labour
    • Land reforms
    • Ceiling on Urban Property
    • Elections to parliament and state legislature
    • Food stuffs
    • Rent and Tenancy Rights

Issues With Tribunalisation

  • High Pendency: Many tribunals also do not have adequate infrastructure to work smoothly and perform the functions originally envisioned leading to high pendency rates thus proving unfruitful to deliver quick justice.
  • Appeal:  Administrative tribunals were originally set up to provide specialized justice delivery and to reduce the burden of caseloads on regular courts. However, appeals from tribunals have inevitably managed to enter the mainstream judicial system.
  • Lack of Information: There is a lack of information available on the functioning of tribunals. Websites are routinely non-existent, unresponsive or not updated.
  • Appointments: Appointments to tribunals are usually under the control of the executive. Not only does the government identify and appoint the members of the tribunals, but it also determines and makes appropriate staffing hires. This is problematic because often there is a lack of understanding of the staffing requirements in tribunals.
  • Against the separation of powers: Tribunalisation is seen as encroachment of judicial branch by the government.
  • Accessibility: Accessibility is low due to scant geographic availability therefore justice becomes expensive and difficult.

Conclusion

  • Independence: The administrative support for all Tribunals should be from the Ministry of Law & Justice. Neither the Tribunals nor its members shall seek or be provided with facilities from the respective sponsoring or parent Ministries or concerned Department.
  • Qualifications: In Union of India vs. R. Gandhi (2010), the Supreme Court looked at the working of tribunals closely. It said that when the existing jurisdiction of a court is transferred to a tribunal, its members should be persons of a rank, capacity and status as nearly as possible equal to the rank, status and capacity of the court.
  • Appointments to members: should be done by an impartial and independent selection committee.
  • Accessibility: Tribunals must have benches in different parts so as to ensure that they are accessible.