Tribunals in India

Tribunals in India

News: Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has clarified that tribunals functioning under the strict parameters of their governing legislations cannot direct the government to make policy.

Background:
• The top court was deciding on whether the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) could have directed the government to make a policy to fill up the post of Judge Advocate General (Air).
• AFT is vested with the powers of a civil court and the Tribunal did not have the powers of the Supreme Court or the High Courts.

What are Tribunals?
• Tribunals in India are quasi-judicial bodies established to provide swift, cost-effective, and decentralized resolution of disputes across various issues. They serve as an alternative to the traditional court system.
• Tribunals were introduced in India in 1985 and were not originally a part of the Constitution of India. They were added later through the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976.
• The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 added a new Part 14-A to the Constitution titled as ‘Tribunals’ which consists of 2 articles – Article 323A (administrative tribunals) and Article 323B (Tribunals for other matters)
• Examples – Central Administrative Tribunal, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, National Green Tribunal, Securities Appellate Tribunal, Armed Forces Tribunal.

Salient Features:

Principles of Natural JusticeTribunals follow the principle of natural justice, which requires that all parties to a legal proceeding be given a fair and impartial hearing
Not Bound by Civil Procedure CodeUnlike traditional courts, tribunals are not bound by the strict rules of procedure and evidence set out in the CPC
Subject ExpertiseA significant part of tribunals is comprised of members who have specialized expertise in the subject matter over which they have jurisdiction
Quasi Judicial PowersTribunals can hear evidence, examine witnesses, make findings of fact, apply the law to the facts, and make binding decisions
Appellate authorityThe decisions of tribunals can be appealed to a higher court
Time-Bound ResolutionThe adjudicatory process in tribunals is usually faster than the traditional court system, which helps resolve disputes more quickly and efficiently

New rules for Tribunals passed in 2020:
• The \'Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal, and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020\'were framed by the Ministry of Finance in exercising powers under Section 184 of the Finance Act 2017.
• Provisions of the New Rules
o These apply to 19 Tribunals, including Central Administrative Tribunals, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Customs, Excise, Service Tax Appellate Tribunals, etc.
o Foreigners Tribunals are not covered.
• Appointment: Appointments to the above Tribunals will be made by Central Government on the recommendations of the \'Search cum Selection Committee\' composed of
o The Chief Justice of India (CJI) or a judge nominated by the CJI
o President/chairperson of the concerned tribunal
o Two government secretaries from the concerned ministry/department.
• Removal: The search Cum Selection Committee has the power to recommend the removal of a member and also to conduct inquiries into allegations of misconduct by a member.
• Qualifications for tribunal members: Only persons having judicial or legal experience are eligible for appointment.
• Term: Rules also provide a fixed term of four years to the Tribunal members.
• Independence: The condition in the 2017 Rules (which were set aside by Court) that the members will be eligible for re-appointment has also been dropped in the 2020 Rules.

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