CJI NV Ramana: Passing Bill without debate to reverse verdict on tribunals ‘serious’

CJI NV Ramana: Passing Bill without debate to reverse verdict on tribunals ‘serious’

CJI NV Ramana

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 16

The Supreme Court on Monday made certain critical remarks against the Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021, passed by Parliament without any debate, reviving the provisions struck down by the top court in Madras Bar Association’s case.

“We have not seen any discussion in Parliament. Of course, Parliament has the prerogative to make laws. At least we must know why the government has introduced the Bill despite being struck down by this court... I have not come across any debate, which took place in Parliament (on the Bill). Please show us the debate — the reasons and all that,” a Bench led by CJI NV Ramana asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. The Bench, however, clarified it’s not commenting on Parliament’s proceedings.

The tribunals Bill, passed by Parliament in the monsoon session abolishes nine appellate tribunals and revives provisions of an ordinance regarding conditions of service and tenure of tribunal members and chairpersons struck down by the top court.

The Bench expressed concern over “disturbing trend” of the government not complying with its directions to fill vacancies in various tribunals. “It’s a serious issue... tribunals have to continue or shut down,” it told Mehta, who said the process was on for appointments to the Central Administrative Tribunal.

The Bench gave 10 days to the Centre to fill the positions of 19 presiding officers, 110 judicial members, and 111 technical numbers in all the tribunals. Referring to a judgment passed by a Bench led Justice LN Rao, the Bench said tribunals can effectively function only if they function independent of executive control, which would inspire public confidence in them. “Can you show us the ministry note citing reasons for the Bill?” the CJI asked.

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