SC notice to Centre on CAT Act amendments
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a petition challenging certain amendments in the Central Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 to abolish the post of Vice-Chairman in the tribunal and framing of new guidelines for appointment of members that allegedly favoured bureaucrats.
A Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and DK Jain asked the Legislative Department of the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Department of Personnel and Training to respond to the petition filed by advocate AK Behera questioning the amendments to the Act.
Behera, president of CAT Bar Association, has sought quashing of the Centre’s decision to abolish the post of Vice-Chairman of the tribunal. The insertion of section 10A in the Act postulates different conditions of service for the Members of the tribunal appointed under the un-amended rules and amended rules, he submitted alleging that the amendment amounted to interference of the executive in the affairs of the judiciary.
On behalf of the petitioner, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran pointed out that the eligibility qualification for appointment as a administrative members has been changed in such a way that only IAS officer can become eligible now. "All the said amendments were carried out without any rationale basis nor have they nexus with any defined objective," he submitted.
Terming the maximum tenure of 10 years prescribed for members as arbitrary, he said when the superannuating age of members had been increased from 62 to 65 years the fixed 10-year term would be detrimental to those members of tribunal who had been directly appointed from the Bar at the age 45.
Bahera urged the court to direct the government to let all the members appointed under the un-amended or amended rules continue till they attain the age of superannuation i.e. 65 years. He also requested the court to quash the newly inserted qualifications for appointment as Administrative Members under the amended section 6(2) as being arbitrary and unsustainable in law.