SC for uniformity in tribunals’ selection processes

SC for uniformity in tribunals’ selection processes

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that there has to be some uniformity in recruitment, service conditions, tenure for members and heads in various tribunals across the country.

The top court also pointed out that there is a strong view that post-retirement is a "scar on the independence of the judiciary".

"The whole exercise needs to have some uniformity to maintain the independence and the judicial character. We have absolute lack of similarity in the manner of selection," a five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said.

The court said 36 tribunals are virtually non-functional due to lack of infrastructure and manpower.

The apex court was hearing a batch of petitions filed challenging the validity of provisions of the Finance Act, 2017.

Senior advocate Arvind P Data, arguing on behalf of the petitioners led by the Madras Bar Association, sought orders to implement the directions of the Supreme Court in R Gandhi (2010) and L Chandra Kumar (1997) cases. The Ministry of Law and Justice was then ordered to take over the administration of all tribunals and set up a nodal agency.

Attorney General K K Venugopal cited an affidavit in 2013, referring to certain
difficulties, including the need for an amendment of the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961. He also said that the Ministry of Law and Justice is overburdened and may not be able to act and function as the nodal agency.

"There cannot be any manner of doubt that to ensure the efficient functioning and to streamline the working of tribunals, they should be brought under one agency," the bench said.

After going through vacancy positions in various tribunals, the court said that the Central Administrative Tribunal, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board,
the Armed Forces Tribunal, the National Green Tribunal and the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal will require immediate attention.

The court directed that the Search-cum-Selection Committee, headed by the chief justice of India or his nominee in the case of National Company Law Tribunal and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, should be immediately implemented by making appointments within a period of two weeks.