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1. Paper 2:

Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

SC stays new Tribunal Rules

Context: The Supreme Court has paved the way for appointment of chairpersons, judicial and others members of all 19 tribunals including CAT and NGT that were stalled due to pendency of pleas challenging the 2017 Finance Act and the rules governing the panels.

Background:The Finance Act and the Tribunal, Appellate and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other conditions of Service of Members) Rules, which govern appointments, tenure, removal and other service conditions of chairpersons and members of tribunals, had been challenged on grounds including that they gave more powers to the executive and interfered with the judicial independence of the panels.

Interim arrangement:The court has asked the government to form an interim search-cum-selection committee during the pendency of the petitions to appoint judicial and administrative members in tribunals. The search panel would be headed by the CJI or his nominee. The chairpersons of tribunals to which appointments will be made and two secretaries, nominated by the central government, would be the members of the committee.

Appointment to the post of chairman (of tribunals) will be made by nomination by the CJI. All appointments to be made pursuant to the selection made by the interim search-cum-selection committee shall abide by the conditions of service as per the old Acts and the Rules.

What’s the main concern now?

Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (qualifications, experience and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017’, framed under the Finance Act, provides that the search-cum-selection committee to select its administrative members will be headed by a nominee of the central government. Earlier, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) or his nominee had a role in the selection of administrative members of CAT.

It is argued that the new law would destroy independent functioning of tribunals as they give primacy to the executive in deciding the constitution, qualifications of members, their appointments and removal.

Facts for Prelims: About CAT:
  • •The Central Administrative Tribunal was established by an Act of Parliament namely Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 as sequel to the 42nd amendment of the Constitution of India inserting Article 323 A. The Principal seat of Central Administrative Tribunal is at New Delhi and it has 16 Outlying Benches scattered all over the Country.
  • •The tribunal adjudicates disputes and complaints with respect to Recruitment and Conditions of Service of the persons appointed to the Public Services and Posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or any State or of any other Local Authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.
  • •The Tribunal is headed by the Chairman and 65 Members, 33 from Judicial (including Chairman) and 33 from the Administrative stream. The Chairman is normally a retired Chief Justice of a High Court.