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Tribunal Rules 2020 Framed Contrary To Court Directions; 'Disturbing Trend' Of Centre Not Implementing Repeated Orders : Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
27 Nov 2020 3:03 PM GMT
Tribunal Rules 2020 Framed Contrary To Court Directions; Disturbing Trend Of Centre Not Implementing Repeated Orders : Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court on Friday expressed displeasure at the Central Government for not paying heed to the repeated directions issued by it to ensure the independence and efficiency of tribunals.A 3-judge bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat made critical observations while issuing directions to the Central Government to amend various provisions of the...

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The Supreme Court on Friday expressed displeasure at the Central Government for not paying heed to the repeated directions issued by it to ensure the independence and efficiency of tribunals.

A 3-judge bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat made critical observations while issuing directions to the Central Government to amend various provisions of the Tribunal Rules 2020.

"Dispensation of justice by the Tribunals can be effective only when they function independent of any executive control:this renders them credible and generates public confidence. We have noticed a disturbing trend of the Government not implementing the directions issued by this Court", observed the bench in the judgment passed in the case Madras Bar Association v Union of India.

The Court observed that to ensure that the Tribunals should not function as another department under the control of the executive, repeated directions have been issued which have gone unheeded.

"Rules are framed which are completely contrary to the directions issued by this Court", the Court noted.

 The Madras Bar Association filed the writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the 'Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020 ('Tribunal Rules 2020)'.

The Rules were notified by the Central Government in February 2020, exercising powers under Section 184 of the Finance Act 2017, after the Supreme Court set aside the similar rules made in 2017 in the decision Rojer Mathew v. South Indian Bank Ltd delivered on November 13, 2019.
The petitioner contended that the same vices which plagued the 2017 Rules were present in the 2020 Rules as well.
The Court agreed with the petitioner but did not strike down the Rules after the Attorney General for India, K K Venugopal, agreed to bring suitable amendments as per the suggestions put forth by the amicus curiae, Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar.

Supreme Court Directs To Constitute National Tribunal Commission For Appointments To Tribunals, Lawyers With 10Yrs Practice Eligible For Appointment As Judicial Members


Crucial that Tribunals are run by experts
The top court expressed that since the tribunal are playing an important role in the dispensation of justice, it is crucial that they are run by a "robust mix of experts", i.e those with experience in policy in the relevant field, and those with judicial or legal experience and competence in such fields.
"Upon the tribunals has devolved the task of marking boundaries of what is legally permissible and feasible (as opposed to what is not lawful and is indefensible) conduct, in a normative sense guiding future behavior of those subject to the jurisdictions of such tribunals. This task is rendered even more crucial, given that appeals against their decisions lie directly to the Supreme Court and public law intervention on the merits of such decisions is all but excluded. Also, these tribunals are expected to be consistent, and therefore, adhere to their precedents, inasmuch as they oversee regulatory behavior in several key areas of the economy. Therefore, it is crucial that these tribunals are run by a robust mix of experts, i.e. those with experience in policy in the relevant field, and those with judicial or legal experience and competence in such fields".
"The functioning or non-functioning of any of these tribunals due to lack of competence or understanding has a direct adverse impact on those who expect effective and swift justice from them. The resultant fallout is invariably an increased docket load, especially by recourse to Article 226 of the Constitution of India. These aspects are highlighted once again to stress that these tribunals do not function in isolation, but are a part of the larger scheme of justice dispensation envisioned by the Constitution and have to function independently, and effectively, to live up to their mandate. The involvement of this Court, in the series of decisions, rendered by no less than six Constitution Benches, underscores the importance of this aspect"
The Court issued elaborate directions to the Centre to amend the rules and observed that they are implemented to avoid future litigation.
"The Government is, accordingly, directed to strictly adhere to the directions given above and not force the Petitioner-Madras Bar Association, which has been relentless in its efforts to ensure judicial independence of the Tribunals, to knock the doors of this Court again", the SC observed in conclusion of the judgment.

Tribunal Rules 2020 : Old Wine In New Bottle?

Government to make appointments within 3 months of recommendations
Taking note of the steep rise in the vacancies due to the delay in appointment process, the Court directed that the Government of India shall make the appointments to the Tribunals within three months after the Search-cum-Selection Committee completes the selection and makes its recommendations.
Detailed report about the directions issued by the Court for Tribunals may be read here.













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