SC Expresses Displeasure to the Centre Over Vacancies in the Tribunals

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Many tribunals were operating with just one member because no appointments were made for months, if not years.

The Supreme Court (SC) pulled up the Central government on Monday over the delayed appointments to various Tribunals and also for enacting a new law on Tribunals despite the SC quashed similar provisions in the law earlier.

A Special Bench of the SC led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana said that it wasn’t interested in a “confrontation with the government” but now the SC was running out of patience and the Central Government should conform and fill the long-pending vacancies to the tribunals by the next hearing scheduled on 13th September.

The Bench, comprising of the CJI and Justice L. Nageshwar Rao as well as Justice D. Y. Chandrachud remarked that the tribunals throughout the country were on the verge of collapse as the cases were being adjourned for over a year.

Many tribunals were operating with just one member because no appointments were made for months, if not years.

Three Options for the Supreme Court

During the course of the hearing, the CJI remarked that the government is bent upon not respecting the judgment given by the apex court which leaves it with only three options.

One is staying the Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021 which was recently passed by the Parliament and close the tribunals in the country and give the High Courts the power to take up the matters.

The second option is that the SC itself makes the appointments to fill the vacancies pending.

The third is to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the government.

CJI said to the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that everyone was pleased with the swift clearance by the government for the appointment of SC judges recently. But if you can approve the appointments to the SC in such a quick manner, then you can very well quickly fill the vacancies in the tribunals which have virtually collapsed.

In response, Mr. Mehta showed the bench a screenshot of a letter by the Finance Ministry addressed to him stating that the new Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021 has come into effect and would pave the way for filling all the vacancies in the tribunals.

While referring to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), Justice Chandrachud remarked that even when the selection panel he himself headed had recommended the names for appointment to the Tribunals after getting the requisite clearance from the Intelligence Bureau, those names were still not cleared by the government.

While referring to the vacancies at the National Company Law Tribunal and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, he stated that these tribunals were critical for the economy and their ineffective functioning would hurt the economy.

SC Judgements Disrespected

The letter promised that the Central Government would ensure that a decision is taken within two weeks on the appointments to all the tribunals where the search-cum-selection committees have given their recommendations to the government.

But Justice Chandrachud said the new Tribunals Act contained an “astonishing replica” of the provisions previously struck down by the SC in multiple judgments.

Justice Chandrachud expressed his annoyance over the fact that whenever the judiciary strike downs a law, the Parliament brings a replica to bypass the judicial judgements.

He said that while the Parliament could bring in a law which took away the basis of a verdict, it cannot bring a law which simply contradicts the SC judgements.

The CJI further displayed his displeasure to the Solicitor General stating that the government has no respect for the verdicts of the court and is testing the patience of the court.

In response to a series of petitions challenging the validity of the Tribunal Reforms Bill 2021, the SC issued a notice to the government.

The Bench did not record its oral observations into the judicial order, but it gave time for Mr. Mehta to ensure that the government makes the appointments, hoping that some progress would be seen soon.

Ayush Gala
Ayush Gala
Apart from being a percussionist and a cricket enthusiast, it's the unfolding tumultuous events of Geopolitics and International Relations that give me the adrenaline rush I crave for. And what better than sharing this adrenaline rush about these and various other topics with the people as well! And thus started my content writing journey, somewhat casually, but over time it's really become something I love doing! "Easy reading is damn hard writing" Well, thats always been my endeavour while writing, so that the readers not just consume, but absorb the content and derive utility from it!

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