Act and Friction: On appointment to tribunals

 

Introduction

There is friction between government and judiciary over the powers and limitations of law-making on the recently passed Tribunal Reforms Act. It contained provisions that had been struck down by the Supreme Court earlier.

Read more: Supreme Court remarks on tribunal law is latest flashpoint between legislature, judiciary

What did the government do?

Cherry-picking of names: Initially, there were delays by the Government in picking the names for judicial and administrative members. After the court’s notice, the Government picked the names and SC noticed that names were picked on basis of favouritism rather than merit.

Cut short of tenure: The government cut short the tenure of the Acting Chairperson of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) by 10 days. The Government justified by saying that it was acting as per the latest law.

This was strongly objected to by the SC, after which the government allowed the acting Judge of NCLAT to complete his tenure.

Issue of tribunals: Government vs courts

Government and courts have often disagreed on numerous factors. They range from eligibility criteria and conditions of service. While the government has tried to alter conditions of service in its favour, the courts, on the other hand, has often struck them down under judicial review.

What should be done?

While the reason for having tribunals is justified. They are small, manned by domain experts and not tied by cumbersome judicial process. But there is an urgent need to ensure the independence of tribunals so that they can effectively meet their desired goal. This can be done through a separate national commission which will make appointments to tribunals.

Source: This post is based on the article “Act and Friction” published in The Hindu on 18th September 2021.

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