Judicial bodies as per the Indian Constitution play a significant role in adjudication of matters which can either be based on Stare Decisis or on the Principles of Natural Justice, provided the process of adjudication is not delayed or bereft in justice, which also is said to be the main objective of establishment of any Tribunal in India.

Tribunals are Quashi – Judicial bodies which are intended to meet obligations pertaining to specific purpose and special cases under special laws. These bodies are established within the ambit of statutory or constitutional laws. Tribunals are said to be Quashi – Judicial because of their pivotal role in serving justice to the cases which are brought to the having special nature/purpose.

Tribunals in India are explained herein below;

  • (a) The National Green Tribunal
  • (b) The Central Administrative Tribunal
  • (c) Water Disputes Tribunal
  • (d) National Company Law Tribunal

The procedures to adjudicate for all these Tribunals are different from one another, although the aim or objective and establishment purpose of all these Tribunals is same i.e. to initiate the proceedings of justice in a more efficient, effective and timely manner avoiding all encumbrances which causes a delay in proceedings ultimately consumes more time than a particular case requires. The abovementioned Tribunals have their own peculiar objective such as the The National Green Tribunal has been established to handle issues/cases pertaining to the environment, similarly the particular objective of Central Administrative Tribunal is to adjudicate matters pertaining to the recruitment of people involved in the public services and related matter, followed by the Water Disputes Tribunal and National Company Law tribunal in which the former which has been established as per Article 262 of the Indian Constitution and deals which matters related to Water for example the Kaveri river issue etc. and the latter deals with matter pertaining to company laws. It is pertinent to note that all the Tribunals have their own ambit of authorization in which special purpose or special cases are adjudicated.

History of Tribunals

In the Indian History of Constitution several amendments have commenced stating from the first amendment in the year, 1951 related to land reforms, the purpose of all these amendments were to strengthen the power the existing constitution with minimizing the adversaries or demerits which otherwise could have impacted the citizens of India.

During the tenure of Indira Gandhi and also during the period when National Emergency was declared in the country i.e. from (1995-1997) the Tribunals amendment was passed, The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, Part XIV – A of Indian Constitution in which two additions were made to Section 323 under which,

323A – Administrative Tribunal

323 B – Tribunals for Other Matter

Whereas, under Administrative Tribunals matters pertaining to recruitment, public service and selection procedure etc. will be adjudicated i.e. Section 323 A and all other matters with relation to tax etc. will be brought under Tribunals for other matter i.e. Section 323 B.

Article 323 A

This main purpose of amendment under Article 323A was to empower the Parliament to establish Administrative Tribunals which would adjudicate matter of specific nature or special purpose such as

  • (1) recruitment and other condition of employment;
  • (2) service of person appointed in the public services of the Centre and State;
  • (3) local bodies;
  • (4) public corporations, and;
  • (5) public authorities.

Concerning the matters hereinabove the Parliament passed Administrative Tribunal Act in 1985, during the tenure of Rajiv Gandhi, after which Central Administrative Tribunal came into existence and under this Act Central government was authorized to establish both Central Administrative Tribunal and State Administrative Tribunal.

CENTRAL ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUAL as per The Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985

Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) was established in the year 1985 under Article 323 A, with its principal bench at Delhi and various other benches were established in various other states. In the contemporary days CAT has 17 regular benches, of which15 benches operate at the principal seats of High Courts and the remaining two seats are in Jaipur and Lucknow and in addition to it there are 21 circuit benches.

Central administrative tribunal has its original jurisdiction for the matters pertaining to All India services, central and civil services, civil posts under the centre and civilian employees of defense services and also it is pertinent to note that defense forces, officers and servants of the Supreme Court and all secretarial staff of the Parliament fall outside the ambit of the Central Administrative Tribunal. The most prominent part of Central Administrative Tribunal is that a matter can be filed with a nominal fee of 50 Rs. and the applicant can appear either in person or by a lawyer.

Central Administrative Tribunal hierarchy comprises of 1 Chairman with a retirement age of 65 followed by 63 members with a retirement age 62, also the tenure is for 5 years and the chairman and members are drawn from both judicial and administrative streams and are appointed by the President.

Central Administrative Tribunal is guided by the Principal of Natural Justice and is not bound by the procedure prescribed in the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 which gives these tribunals a separate identity and authority. These Tribunals also runs on its own principals, procedures and practice which is as per the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987 and Central Administrative Tribunal Rules of Practice, 1993 which have been notified and framed in order to ensure smooth functioning of the Tribunal. Under 17 of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 the Tribunal has been conferred with the same power to exercise the same jurisdiction and authority in respect of contempt of itself as a High Court. It is pertinent to note that initially the decision of the Tribunal could be challenged against the Hon’ble Supreme Court by filing a Special Leave Petition. Whereafter the judgement of Supreme Court Justice in L. Chandra Kumar’s Case in 1997 wherein the Supreme Court declared this restriction on the Jurisdiction of High Court as unconstitutional holding that the judicial review is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and orders of the Central Administrative Tribunal are now being challenged by way of writ petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution before respective High Court in whose territorial jurisdiction the bench is situated .

In future the Central Administrative Tribunals aims to settle matters through the method of computerization such as website, case information system, video conferencing etc. due to the vast and rapid technological improvements witnessed in the present era.

STATE ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL under section 323 A of Indian Constitution

State Administrative Tribunal can be established on a specific request of the state government to the Central Government. Similar to Central Administrative Tribunal, State Administrative Tribunals also exercise original Jurisdiction in relation to the recruitment and service matters pertaining to the state government employees. Also the Chairmen and the members of the State Adminitrative Tribunals are appointed by the president after consultation with the governor of the state concerned.

Under State Administrative Tribunal the Act also empowers the Central Government to setup Joint Administrative Tribunal for matters in which more than one state is concerned.

TRIBUNALS ARTICLE 323 B

Under Section 323 B concerning other matters which are not a part of the Administrative Tribunals which includes adjudication of disputes relating to the following :

  • (a) Taxation
  • (b) Foreign exchange, import and export
  • (c) Industrial and Labour
  • (d) Land Reforms
  • (e) Ceiling on Urban Property
  • (f) Election of Parliament and State legislature
  • (g) Food Stuffs
  • (h) Rent and Tenancy Rights

The parliament and the State legislature are authorized to provide for the establishment of Tribunals concerning the abovementioned matters.

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