Tribunals : Law Commission Recommendations

  • Highlights of the report titled ‘Assessment of Statutory Frameworks of Tribunals in India’, submitted to the Law Ministry, by the Law Commission of India.
 Law commission of India recommendations:
  • Key Fact: the disposal rate of the tribunals in comparison to the filing of cases per year had been remarkable — 94% — the pendency remains high.
  • Appointments to tribunals and their functioning should remain independent of the executive’s influence
  • A Committee led by the Chief Justice of India should be in charge of the appointments of Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Judicial Members of the various central tribunals, which form a pillar of the country’s justice delivery system.
  • Every order emanating from the tribunal or its appellate forum, wherever it exists, attains finality
  • Reappointment of chairman and others compromises the independence and fairness of the tribunal.
  • The Commission has suggested a common nodal agency, possibly under the Law Ministry, to both monitor the working of the tribunals and to ensure uniformity in the appointment, tenure and service conditions for the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and members.
  • Present context: As of now, tribunals function under the very government department which may be a litigant before them, and probably, against which they may have to pass orders.
HC power to review
  • In a marked departure from its earlier stand, the Commission recommended the restoration of the High Courts’ power of judicial review over the decisions of the tribunals.
  • It said parties should be allowed to challenge a tribunal order before the Division Bench of the high court having territorial jurisdiction over the tribunal or its appellate forum.
  • Present Context: Presently, parties are deprived of an opportunity to move high courts concerned against the orders of some tribunals and have to move the Supreme Court directly.
Location of the Tribunal:
  • The Commission said tribunals must have benches in different parts of the country so that people of every geographical area may have easy access to justice
  • Ideally, the benches of the tribunals should be located at all places where the high courts situate. In the event of exclusion of jurisdiction of all courts, it is essential to provide for an equally effective alternative mechanism even at grass root level. This could be ensured by providing State- level sittings looking to the quantum of work of a particular tribunal. Once that is done, the access to justice will stand ensured.

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