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Tribunals Reforms Ordinance 2021

Tribunals Reforms (Rationalization and Conditions of Service) Ordinance 2021

Why in news?

  • The President of India has promulgated the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021.
  • The proposed changes are based on the directions issued by the Supreme Court last year in the Madras Bar Association case.
  • According to the ordinance, the appellate authorities under nine Acts have been done away with and the right to hear appeals under the statute has been conferred to High Courts.

The Finance Act 2017

  • It empowered the central government to notify rules on qualifications of members, terms and conditions of their service, and composition of search-cum-selection committees for 19 tribunals (such as Customs, Excise, and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal).    Tribunals Reforms Ordinance 2021

The Nine Laws (Replacement of Appellate Authorities/Tribunals)

  • The Cinematograph Act, 1952.
  • The Trade Marks Act, 1999.
  • The Copyright Act, 1957.
  • The Customs Act, 1962.
  • The Patents Act, 1970.
  • The Airports Authority of India Act, 1994.
  • The Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act, 2002.
  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.

Amendment to Finance Act,2017:

  • The ordinance empowers the Central Government to make rules for qualifications, appointment, term of office, salaries and allowances, resignation, removal and other terms and conditions of service of Members of Tribunals.
  • Search-cum-Selection Committee: It also provides that the central government will appoint the Chairperson and Members of the Tribunals on the recommendation of a Search-cum-Selection Committee.
  • Composition: The Committee will consist of:
    • Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge nominated by him, as the Chairperson (with casting vote),
    • Secretaries nominated by the central government,
    • The sitting or outgoing Chairperson, or a retired Supreme Court Judge, or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court.
    • The Secretary of the Ministry under which the Tribunal is constituted (with no voting right).
  • Tenure: Now, The tenure of Chairperson of a Tribunal is for a term of four years or till the age of 70, whichever is earlier. Members of a tribunal will also have a tenure of four years or until they turn 67.

Reason for Replacing Tribunals

  • Poor Adjudication & Delay: The quality of adjudication has been underwhelming in most cases, the delays have been substantial because the government has struggled to find competent persons willing to accept positions on these tribunals, and litigation has actually become more expensive, as these tribunals added another layer to it.    Tribunals Reforms Ordinance 2021
  • Litigations Against Them: There has been incessant litigation since 1985 by advocate bar associations against the tribunals over serious questions of their independence from the executive.

What are tribunals?

  • Tribunal is a quasi-judicial institution that is set up to deal with problems such as resolving administrative or tax-related disputes.
  • It performs a number of functions like adjudicating disputes, determining rights between contesting parties, making an administrative decision, reviewing an existing administrative decision and so forth.
  • Tribunals were added to the Constitution by Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976 as Part XIV-A which has only two articles:
    • Article 323-A deals with Administrative Tribunals.
    • Article 323-B deals with tribunals for other matters.



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