Tribunals only supplemental not substitute for high courts: Law Commission
The commission’s report comes in response to a reference made by the Supreme Court in August last year over mounting pendency of appeals in the top court against tribunal decisions.Updated: Oct 25, 2017 15:34 IST
Writ petitions challenging the decisions of different central tribunals in the country should be filed before a division bench of the high court instead of the Supreme Court, the Law Commission of India has recommended.
The commission has finalised a report with a series of recommendations for streamlining the functioning of the 26 tribunals, a top functionary of the country’s legal advisory body told the Hindustan Times on Wednesday.
“We will submit the report to the law ministry at the earliest,” the member, who worked on the subject, said.
The commission’s report comes in response to a reference made by the Supreme Court in August last year over mounting pendency of appeals in the top court against tribunal decisions.
Clarifying on the hierarchy of the tribunals vis-à-vis the high courts, the commission has ruled that the tribunals “are not substitutes but supplemental in nature.” The top court had also posed that question to the commission.
“We make it clear that as far as heavy pendency in this Court on account of liberal exercise of jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of India is concerned, we do not wish to make any comment as this is a matter in the discretion of the Court and it is for the Court to address this issue,” the top court said while referring the matter to the LCI in August last year.
“Our discussion is limited to the consideration of the desirability of providing statutory appeals directly to this Court from orders of Tribunals on issues not affecting national or public interest and other aspects of statutory framework in respect of Tribunals as discussed above,” it added.
The government had earlier brought down the number of tribunals – quasi-judicial institutions other than regular courts which deal very specific areas of work – from 35 to 26 in the finance act.
These include the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that deals with service matters of government servants, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) handling environmental laws, the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal that looks after appeals against the company law tribunals, and so on.
Different tribunals are coordinated by different ministries but the commission has now suggested that the Centre should create a “single nodal agency for all tribunals”.
Each of these tribunals has retired Supreme Court or high court judges as chairpersons and judicial members as well as subject matter experts. The commission has recommended uniformity in appointments to the tribunals and fixed, non-extendable term of three years for judicial members.
“For expert members, the terms should be much longer,” the LCI functionary said.