The Supreme Court has allowed tagging of an appeal filed by the Centre challenging the order of the high court to put Armed Forces Tribunals (AFT) under the union law ministry, with a similar case on the Company Law Appellate Tribunal (CLAT) case. In the CLAT case, Madras Bar Association is the petitioner where they are praying that the CLAT should not function under the union ministry of corporate affairs.
The application for tagging the case was filed by the founder president of Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) Bar Association, Major Navdeep Singh. The original public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Navdeep, which was allowed in 2012, had pointed out an acute conflict of interest and contended that AFT's functioning under the ministry of defence (MoD) amounted to tacit and insidious takeover by the executive over judicial functioning. The PIL also pointed out that career bureaucrats were sitting in the selection committee for appointing retired and serving HC judges as members of AFT. But after the Punjab and Haryana high court ordered for keeping AFTs under the law ministry, the central government filed a special leave petition (SLP) against the decision on which the SC had initially not granted any stay and had also not issued any notice.
In the meantime, a petition was filed by the Madras Bar Association in the SC for ensuring that the upcoming CLAT not function under the ministry of corporate affairs; and a notice was issued to the government. The SC on January 27 also directed tagging of similar cases with CLAT case.
When a contempt petition was filed in the Punjab and Haryana high court in the case for non-implementation of orders on keeping AFTs under law ministry, the central government again approached the SC on February 28, at which the SC issued a notice directed a stay on the contempt proceedings.
An application was then moved by Navdeep, informing the SC that there were pre-existing directions of the SC for tagging of these similar petitions. Allowing that application on Wednesday, the cases were ordered to be listed together.
Meanwhile, a Constitution bench of the SC has reserved a decision on a related matter, on whether the National Tax Tribunal could take away powers of high courts to examine points of law.