Draft law on anvil to bring down number of tribunals from 36 to 18
The government is working on a draft law to merge 36 tribunals in the country and bring down their number significantly, top sources in the Ministry of law and justice have said.india Updated: Feb 22, 2017 23:28 IST
The government is working on a draft law to merge 36 tribunals in the country and bring down their number significantly, top sources in the Ministry of law and justice have said.
The government proposes to merge or abolish the tribunals in three phases, an official linked with the process said. “These tribunals are created through statutes and we will need a law to merge them,” the official added.
The decision to bring down the number of such bodies from the present 36 to 18 was taken by a group of secretaries last year.
The department of legal affairs in the law ministry will be the administrative agency for different tribunals which currently are overseen by different ministries. The Armed Forces Tribunal, for instance is coordinated by the Ministry of defence. The Indian Law Institute in a report last year had suggested reducing the number of tribunals to 17.
The move is in consonance with Supreme Court directions. As many as five tribunals were headless at the beginning of the year, slowing down the process of settling disputes. The then Chief Justice of India TS Thakur had flagged the concern in November. “Tribunals are not equipped and are lying empty. Today a situation has come that when no retired SC judge wants to head the tribunals,” Thakur had said.
The problem, he said, was adding to judicial backlog. “The least that you (government) must do is to ensure that these tribunals run with full strength,” he said.
The law ministry had recently written to all Union ministries and departments to provide details of tribunals functioning under their administrative control and explain the “possibility of merging the functions of tribunals with some other tribunals.”
There are 36 tribunals functioning in the country dealing with subjects such as income tax, electricity, consumer protection, company laws and railway
Prime minister Narendra Modi had in April, 2015, said there is a need to brainstorm over whether tribunals lead to faster delivery of justice or are acting as “barriers” to it and slowing it down.
Addressing a joint conference of chief justices of high courts and chief ministers, Modi had said the budget allocated to run the tribunals can be diverted to courts to strengthen them if it is found that they are not delivering results.