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

Source: Indian Express

Relevance: To understand the tussle between Judiciary and Parliament

Synopsis: Friction between Judiciary & government over interference in each other domain

There is a fresh tussle between the Judiciary and legislature over the powers and limitations of law-making on the recently passed Tribunal Reforms Act.

Tribunal Reforms Act 2021:
  • It sought the abolishment of at least seven appellate tribunals under various statutes.
  • The bill also revived provisions of tenures, age criteria, and search cum selection committee for tribunal appointments.
  • These provisions were earlier struck down by SC judgement in Madras Bar Association vs Union of India as it interferes with the independence of the Judiciary.
Reasons for dissent
  • Under the amendment, there is minimum age criteria of 50 years/ 4year tenure for the appointment of advocates as members of tribunals. The Supreme Court(SC) found this capping as arbitrary
  • Government, on the other hand, says it will bring a specialized talent pool of advocates to pick from.
  • The judiciary feels its powers are being curtailed, and Parliament wonders whether the judiciary should interfere to this extent.
Other cases relate to Tribunals

Roger Mathew vs Union of India: SC struck down an amendment to the 2017 Finance Act, passed as a money Bill. The amendment altered the structure and functioning of various tribunals. In it, the bench directed the government to formulate fresh norms on the appointment of tribunal members.

Madras Bar Association in 2010 & 2015: Both the cases challenged various provisions relating to the establishment of the National Company Law Tribunal. In these judgements, SC had interpreted provisions relating to the appointment of members to align with the independence of the judiciary.

Way forward:

There is a need to attain the right balance as per the constitution and for the welfare of the people.

Terms to Know

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