Sep 29, 2020 17:07 UTC
Oct 20, 2020 at 07:33 UTC
Administrative Tribunals in India
1.1 What is a Tribunal?
The word ‘Tribunal’ is derived from the word ‘Tribunes’, which means ‘Magistrates of the Classical Roman Republic’. Tribunal is referred to as the office of the ‘Tribunes’ i.e., a Roman official under the monarchy and the republic with the function of protecting the plebeian citizen from arbitrary action by the patrician magistrates. A Tribunal, generally, is any person or institution having an authority to adjudicate on or to determine claims or disputes.
Though the term ‘tribunal’ has not been defined in the Constitution or in any of the related legislations, there have been cases wherein courts have laid down the requisites of tribunals. In Jaswant Sugar Mills case, the Supreme Court held that to determine whether an authority acting judicially was a tribunal or not, the ‘principle incident’ was to find whether it was invested with the trappings of a court, such as having the authority to determine matters, authority to compel the attendance of witnesses, the duty to follow the essential rules of evidence and the power to impose sanctions.
1.2 Key difference between a Tribunal and the Court
The points presented below explain the differences between tribunal and court:
- Tribunals mean the body of members who are elected to settle the controversies arising under certain special matters. On the other extreme court is understood as the judicial institution which is established by the Constitution to administer justice, by legislation.
- The decision given by the tribunals on a particular matter is known as the award. As against this, the court’s decision is known as judgement, decree, conviction or acquittal.
- While tribunals are formed to deal with specific matters, courts deal with all types of cases.
- The tribunal can be a party to the dispute, whereas a court cannot be a party to the dispute. A court is impartial in the sense that it acts as an arbitrator between the defendant and prosecutor.
- The court is presided over by the judge, panel of judges, i.e. jury, or magistrate. While the tribunals are headed by a chairman and other judicial members, elected by the appropriate authority.
- There is no code of procedure in a tribunal and they conduct their proceedings according to the principles of natural justice, but a court has a proper code of procedure, which must be followed strictly.
- Executive has a major role in the appointment and the establishment of the tribunal, while the Judges of the court are appointed by the Collegium system where there is no role of the Executive.
1.3 Administrative Tribunal
Administrative Tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies established for adjudication of disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to the public service and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union and the States.
‘Tribunal’ is an administrative body established for the purpose of discharging quasi-judicial duties. An Administrative Tribunal is neither a Court nor an executive body. It stands somewhere midway between a Court and an administrative body. The exigencies of the situation proclaiming the enforcement of new rights in the wake of escalating State activities and furtherance of the demands of justice have led to the establishment of Tribunals.
The necessity for an adjudicating body to deal with the piling up of the cases regarding administrative matters in the High Courts was felt during the initial phase after the enactment of the Constitution. The primary reason for the creation of Tribunals was to overcome this crisis of delays and backlogs in the administration of justice. Therefore, the Administrative Tribunals have been established to overcome the major lacuna present in the Justice delivery system in the light of the legal maxim Lex dilationes semper exhorret which means ‘The law always abhors delays’. 
As early as in 1958 the 14th Law Commission of India titled “Reform of Judicial Administration” recommended the establishment of an appellate Tribunal or Tribunals at the Centre and in the States. Later, in its 58th Report (1974) titled “Structure and Jurisdiction of the Higher Judiciary‘, the Law Commission urged that separate Tribunal or Commission should be set up to deal with the service matters and that approaching the Courts should be the last resort.
Justice J. C. Shah Committee Report of 1969, recommended for setting up of an independent Tribunal to handle service matters pending before the High Courts and the Supreme Court. Later on, the Swaran Singh Committee Report of 1976 recommended the setting up of Administrative Tribunals under a Central enactment, both at the State level and at the Centre to decide cases relating to service matters.
Based on the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee, Part XIV-A was added by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, which added Article 323-A which provided for the establishment of Administrative Tribunals and Article 323-B which provided for ‘Tribunals for other matters‘ under Article 323-B.
The main objective of establishing Tribunals as set out in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of The Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976 is as under:
‘To reduce the mounting arrears in High Courts and to secure the speedy disposal of service matters, revenue matters and certain other matters of special importance in the context of the socio-economic development and progress, it is considered expedient to provide for administrative and other tribunals for dealing with such matters while preserving the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in regard to such matters under article 136 of the Constitution.’ 
1.4 Article 323-A and Article 323-B
Article 323-A (1) provides for the adjudication or trial by administrative tribunals of disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State or of any local or other authority within the territory of India. The power to constitute such Tribunals is vested exclusively in Parliament.
Section (2) of the same Article provides that a law made by Parliament under section (1) may:
(i) Provide for the establishment of an Administrative Tribunal for the Union and a separate Administrative Tribunal for each State or for two or more States;
(ii) Specify the jurisdiction, powers and authority which may be exercised by such tribunals;
(iii) Provide for the procedure to be followed by these tribunals; and
(iv) Exclude the jurisdiction of all courts except the special jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 136.
Article 323-B empowers Parliament or State Legislatures to set up tribunals for matters other than those covered by clause (2) of Article 323-A. The matters to be covered by such tribunals are as follows:
(i) Levy, assessment, collection and enforcement of any tax;
(ii) Foreign exchange, import and export across customs frontiers;
(iii) Industrial and labour disputes;
(iv) Matters connected with land reforms covered by Article 31-A;
(v) Ceiling on urban property;
(vi) Elections to either House of Parliament or Legislatures of the States and
(vii) Production, procurement, supply and distribution of food-stuffs or other essential goods.
2. Administrative Tribunal Act 1985
The Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 was brought in to give effect to Article 323-A of the Constitution. Section 29 of the Act transferred all the cases relating to service matters pending before various Courts to the Tribunals and granted the tribunal exclusive jurisdiction in administrative matters. Section 22 of the Administrative Tribunals Act 1985 created under Article 323A have freed the established Tribunals from technical rules of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and is empowered to conduct its affairs by the Principles of Natural Justice. They have been vested with the powers of Civil Court in respect of some matters including the review of their own decisions.
The Act provides for establishment of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and the State Administrative Tribunals. The CAT was set-up on 1 November 1985. Today, it has 17 regular benches, 15 of which operate at the principal seats of High Courts and the remaining two at Jaipur and Lucknow. These Benches also hold circuit sittings at other seats of High Courts.
2.1 Types of Administrative Tribunals:
There are 3 types of Administrative tribunals as per Section 4 of the Act:
* Central Administrative Tribunal: The Central Government shall, by notification, establish an Administrative Tribunal, to be known as the Central Administrative Tribunal, to exercise the jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred on the Central Administrative Tribunal by or under this Act. 
* State Administrative Tribunal: The Central Government may, on receipt of a request in this behalf from any State Government, establish, by notification, an Administrative Tribunal for the State to be known as the…….(name of the State) Administrative Tribunal to exercise the jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred on the Administrative Tribunal for the State by or under this Act. 
* Joint Administrative Tribunal: Two or more States may enter into an agreement that the same Administrative Tribunal shall be the Administrative Tribunal for each of the States participating in the agreement, and if the agreement is approved by the Central Government and published in the Gazette of India and the Official Gazette of each of those States, the Central Government may, by notification, establish a Joint Administrative Tribunal to exercise the jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred on the Administrative Tribunals for those States by or under this Act.
2.2 Composition of tribunals:
A tribunal shall consist of a chairman and such number of vice-chairman and another member as may be provided for. The President appoints them in case of central tribunals and the Governor in case of the state tribunals. Each tribunal shall consist of a chairman and such number of Vice Charmin and judicial and administrative members as the appropriate Government may deem fit. The bench basically consists of one judicial member and one administrative member. In case of a deadlock on the decision by the benches, the matter is referred to the chairman for the decisive vote.
The chairman may transfer the vice-chairman or other member from one Bench to another Bench. He may constitute a single member bench for certain classes of cases. The chairman if required by the nature of case may require that the matter be heard by a Bench of two members, the benches of the central Tribunal shall ordinarily sit at New Delhi (which shall be known as the principle bench). Allahabad, Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and such other places as the central government may by notification, specify.
2.3 Appointment of Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Judicial Member and Administrative members Section 6(1)(2)(3).
A person shall not be qualified for appointment as the Chairman unless he is or has been a judge of High Court or has, for atleast two years, held the post of a Secretary to the Government of India, or any other post under the Central Government or State Government carrying a pay scale which is not less than that of Secretary of the Government of India. Therefore, a retired person can also be appointed as Chairman of the administrative tribunal if he fulfills the above qualifications.
Section 6(3) of the Act lays down that a person shall not be qualified for appointment as a Judicial Member unless he is, or has been, or is qualified to be, a judge of High Court; or has been a member of the Indian legal service and has held a post of Grade I of that service for at least three years.
For the appointment of an Administrative member, it is necessary that he has for atleast for 2 years held the post of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India, or any other post under the Central or Starte Government, carrying a scale of pay which is not less than that of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India; or has for atleast 3 years, held the pst of a Joint Secretary to the Government of India, or any other post under the Central or State Government, carrying a pay sale which is not less than that of a Joint Secretary to the Government of India.
The appointment of Chairman, Vice-Chairman and every member of the CAT is to be made by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. Similarly, the appointment of Chairman, Vice-Chairman and other members of an administrative tribunal for a State is to be made by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the concerned state. The tenure of the office of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman is 5years or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier, and 62 years for the members.
2.4 Exclusion of Jurisdiction of Courts except the Supreme Court
Section 28 of the Act provides for the exclusion of jurisdiction of courts except the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution in regarding the matters and issues which are governed under the ambit of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985. The section provides that no matter shall be brought before any court regarding any administrative dispute except the Administrative Tribunal. The decision of the Tribunal shall be final and cannot be challenged in appeal in any Court except the Supreme Court under Article 136. The writ jurisdiction under both Article 226 and Article 32 were excluded.
The exclusion of High Courts from exercising their jurisdiction over the Tribunals raised many issues, mainly because High Court being a craft of the Constitution of India cannot be overridden of its power by a Tribunal being a craft of a statute. In several case laws, the Supreme Court had declared the power of High Courts of Judicial review under Article 226 and power of superintendence under Article 227 being a part of the ‘Basic Structure’ of the Constitution cannot be infringed upon.
3. Recommendations by several Commission and Reports
There have been several Commissions and Reports which have been instrumental in the setting up of and development of the administrative tribunals in India:
- 14th Law Commission Report, 1958– The report recommended the set up of Tribunal at Centre and State. However, it did not support France’s model.
- Administrative Reforms Commission, 1966– It explored the possibilities of establishing administrative tribunals in different spheres. It recommended the setting up of Civil Service Tribunal in 1969 as a final adjudicatory authority.
- Wanchoo Committee, 1970– This committee talked about setting up of Income Tax Settlement Commission and Tribunal.
- Justice J. C. Shah Committee Report, 1972– This report called for an urgent need to set up independent Tribunals to exclusively deal with service matters of government employees. The same was further also recommended by 58th Law Commission Report, 1974.
- 58th Law Commission Report, 1974– This report recommended to appeal to courts only via Article 136 and not via Articles 32 or 226.
- Swaran Singh Committee Report, 1976– As a part of welfare ideology this report recommended the establishment of administrative Tribunals as a part of adjudicative system under Constitution and in other areas also. However, it should be subject to scrutiny of the Supreme Court under Article 136. Also, jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Court under Articles 32 and 226 respectively should be barred for this purpose.
These developments prior to 1985 lead to the set up of Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 to provide a faster and effective remedy.
- 115th Law Commission Report, 1986– It recommended the set up of Central Tax Court.
- 124th Law Commission Report, 1988– This report recommended the set up of Tribunal as a substitute of High Courts to reduce their burden.
- 162nd Law Commission Report, 1988– It recommended the constitution of National Appellate Administrative Tribunal which should be headed by Chief Justice of High Court or a former judge of Supreme Court. This was recommended because Judicial Review by High Court and via Article 136 by Supreme Court is time consuming.
- Raghav Committee Report, 2002– It recommended to set up a Competition Commission of India.
- 215th Law Commission Report, 2008– This report said regarding reconsideration of L. Chandra case by a larger bench of the Supreme Court and suggested for the suitable amendments to provide for the appellate tribunal. It said that the jurisdiction of High Court is not violable as that of Supreme Court. It was observed that the High Court being the highest Court of the State there is a need for proliferating appellate and wide original jurisdiction which should be controlled or curtailed without impairing the quality of justice.
- 232nd Law Commission Report, 2009– It talked about the retirement age of Chairpersons (to be 70 years) and members (to be 65 years) of Tribunal. It also raised the issue of uniformity regarding different aspects in Tribunal.
- Finance Act, 2017– Under the Finance Act of 2017 there is merging of 8 tribunals on the ground of similar functions of the Tribunals. This Act also gave power to the government to appoint and remove the members of the Tribunal. This led to the formation of the Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and other Authorities Rules, 2017.
- 272nd Law Commission Report, 2017 – The report gave several recommendations regarding the improvement of the condition and functioning of tribunals. It reiterated the demands made in the previous reports to bring about a uniformity in the appointment of the Tribunals and to protect it from excessive intrusion by the Executive. It suggested the setting up of a Central nodal agency to monitor the working of the tribunals under the Ministry of Law and Justice.
4. Judicial Development
The establishment of tribunals has led to certain constitutional misnomers, chiefly concerning the reconciliation of the tribunal system with the power of High Courts under Article 226 and Article 227. The Supreme Court through several case laws has tried to clear the position and over the past 38 years has shifted dramatically from its stance over the legitimacy of Tribunal system.
The Judiciary is seemingly unwilling to devolve some of its powers and jurisdiction to an apparent parallel institution but at the same time is unable to handle the burden of piling up of humungous amount of cases. Its dubious stand is evident by examining the case laws during last 38 years:
- Gujarat Steel Tubes Ltd. v. Gujarat Steel Tubes Mazdoor Sabha (1980)
In this case the Court held that the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution is limited to holding the judicial or quasi-judicial tribunals or administrative bodies exercising the quasi-judicial powers within its intra-vires and to see that they do not exceed their statutory jurisdiction and correctly administer the law laid down by the statute under which they act. So long as the hierarchy of officers and appellate authorities created by the Statute function within their ambit, their manner in which they do so cannot be questioned by the Courts.
- S. M. Pattanaik v. Secretary to Government of India (1986)
It was held that all the disputes and complaints relating to service matters either with respect to recruitment or condition of service fall within the ambit of the Administrative Tribunals and the jurisdiction of High Court in respect of these matters stands excluded by virtue of Section 28 of the Act, 1985.
- J.B. Chopra v. Union of India (1987)
It was held that the Administrative Tribunal were a substitute of the High Court. They had the necessary jurisdiction, power and authority to adjudicate upon all disputes relating to service matters including the power to deal with all question pertaining to the constitutional validity or otherwise of such laws as offending Article 14 and 16(1) of the Constitution.
- S.P. Sampath Kumar v. Union of India (1987)
The Court, while deciding Sampath Kumar Case, relied upon the decision in Minerva Mills Case wherein it was observed that:
‘..it would be within the competence of Parliament to amend the Constitution so as to substitute in place of the High Court, another alternative institutional mechanism or arrangement for judicial review, provided it is no less efficacious than the High Court. Then, instead of the High Court, it would be another institutional mechanism or authority which would be exercising the power of judicial review with a view to enforcing the constitutional limitations and maintaining the rule of law.’
The Supreme Court applied the theory of ‘effective alternative mechanism‘ and held that though judicial review is a basic feature of the constitution, the vesting of the power of judicial review in an alternative institutional mechanism, after taking it away from the High Courts, would not do violence to the basic structure so long as it was ensured that the alternative mechanism was an effective and real substitute for the High Court.
The court held that judicial review was part of the basic structure of the Constitution but went on to state that if the constitutional amendment did not leave a void by excluding the jurisdiction of the High Court but if it set up another effective institutional mechanism wherein the power of judicial review was vested the Administrative Tribunal would pass the test of constitutionality. The basic structure doctrine implies that if any there is a legislation amending any area of law belonging to the basic structure, the amendment would be adjudged void. The court further held that these tribunals had the power of judicial review owing to the 42nd Amendment Act. This was also because exclusion of the jurisdiction of the High Court by providing for effective institutional mechanisms would not bar judicial review as tribunals were effective mechanisms as they helped in reducing the backlog of cases and assured quick settlements of service disputes.
- M.B. Majumdar v. Union of India (1990)
The Supreme Court rejected the contention that the Tribunals were the equals of the High Courts in respect of their service conditions. The Court clarified that in Sampath Kumar’s case the Tribunals under the Act had been equated with High Courts only to the extent that the former were to act as substitutes for the latter in adjudicating service matters; the Tribunals could not, therefore, seek parity for all purposes.
- H.N. Patro v. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (1993)
In this case it was reiterated that the provisions contained in the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 bars the jurisdiction of the High Court and the High Court should be careful to satisfy itself that it had jurisdiction to deal with the matter and make an order nullifying the direction of the Tribunal. The Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 excluded the jurisdiction of the High Courts. It abolished the appellate and supervisory jurisdiction of High Courts and provided for direct appeal to the Supreme Court.
- L Chandra Kumar v. Union of India (1997)
The Supreme Court declared clause 2(d) of Article 323A and clause 3(d) of Article 323B, which excluded the jurisdiction of the High Courts under Articles 226, 227 and of the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution as unconstitutional. The Court explicitly observed:
“99… Section 28 of the Act and the “exclusion of jurisdiction” clauses in all other legislations enacted under the aegis of Articles 323A and 323B would, to the same extent, be unconstitutional. The jurisdiction conferred upon the High Courts under Articles 226/227 and upon the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution is part of the inviolable basic structure of our Constitution. While this jurisdiction cannot be ousted, other courts and Tribunals may perform a supplemental role in discharging the powers conferred by Articles 226/227 and 32 of the Constitution. The Tribunals created under Article 323A and Article 323B of the Constitution are possessed of the competence to test the constitutional validity of statutory provisions and rules. All decisions of these Tribunals will, however, be subject to scrutiny before a Division Bench of the High Court within whose jurisdiction the concerned Tribunal falls.”…
The question whether the Tribunals can be said to be effective substitutes for the High Courts in discharging the power of judicial review again came up for consideration in L Chandra Kumar v. Union of India. The Court held that the power vested in the High Courts to exercise judicial superintendence over the decisions of all Courts and Tribunals within their respective jurisdictions is also part of the basic structure of the Constitution. It was observed:
‘The constitutional safeguards which ensure the independence of the Judges of the superior judiciary are not available to the Judges of the subordinate judiciary or to those who man Tribunals created by ordinary legislations. Consequently, Judges of the latter category can never be considered full and effective substitutes for the superior judiciary in discharging the function of constitutional interpretation. We, therefore, hold that the power of judicial review over legislative action vested in the High Courts under Articles 226 and in this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution is an integral and essential feature of the Constitution, constituting part of its basic structure. Ordinarily, therefore, the power of High Courts and the Supreme Court to test the constitutional validity of legislations can never be ousted or excluded.
If the power under Article 32 of the Constitution, which has been described as the “heart” and “soul” of the Constitution, can be additionally conferred upon “any other court”, there is no reason why the same situation cannot subsist in respect of the jurisdiction conferred upon the High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution. So long as the jurisdiction of the High Courts under Articles 226/227 and that of this Court under Article 32 is retained, there is no reason why the power to test the validity of legislations against the provisions of the Constitution cannot be conferred upon Administrative Tribunals created under the Act or upon Tribunals created under Article 323B of the Constitution. It is to be remembered that, apart from the authorization that flows from Articles 323A and 323B, both Parliament and the State Legislatures possess legislative competence to effect changes in the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.’
The issue pertaining to the constitutionality of Art. 323B(3)(d), which is similar to Art. 323A(2)(d) was not raised before the Court. In L.Chandrakumar v. Union of India, a seven judge Bench of the Supreme Court overruled Sampath Kumar on the point of the power of judicial review of the High Courts and it still continues to be good law. It was a landmark decision also because the issue of the constitutionality of Art. 323B(3)(d) was raised for the first time. The important issues raised before the Court were- first, whether Art. 323A(2)(d) and Art. 323(B)(3)(d) violated the power of judicial review vested with the High Court under Art. 226 and Art. 227. Second, whether the power of superintendence of the High Courts over all tribunals and courts situated within their territorial jurisdiction was part of the basic structure. Third, whether the provision for a technical member would make any difference in deciding the validity of the provision for the constitution of tribunals. First, it was held that the power of judicial review was vested with the Supreme Court and the High Court under Art. 226 and under Art. 32 as the constitutional safeguards which ensured the independence of the higher judiciary were not available to the lower judiciary and reiterated that judicial review was a basic structure of the Constitution. After the interim order was passed, the Central Government assured the Court that steps would be taken to save the Court’s jurisdiction under Art. 32, remove other minor anomalies and set up a Bench of the tribunal at the seat of every High Court and these changes were brought about by the Administrative Tribunals.
- Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan v. Subash Sharma
It was held that in order to challenge the decision of tribunal, complainants cannot directly go to the Supreme Court nor they can bypass the High Court. The High Court has supervisory powers over the administrative tribunals. But the situation leads to increasing the burden of High Court on one hand and helps reducing apex court’s dockets in service matters and facilitates a remedy at close quarters without huge expenses.
- Union of India v. R Gandhi
Interestingly, the court has only looked at the independence of the judiciary in terms of, inter alia, salaries, allowances, and the retirement age of judges and not with regard to whether the presence of administrative and technical members would be the interference of the Executive in judicial actions. The issue came before a Constitution Bench in Union of India v. R Gandhi, these issues were addressed.
First, it was held that the Constitution contemplates judicial power being exercised by both courts and tribunals (in light of Art. 32, Art. 247, Art. 323A and Art. 323B) and hence if the jurisdiction of High Courts could be created by providing for appeals, revisions, and references to be heard by the High Courts, jurisdiction can also be taken away by deleting the provisions for appeals, revisions or references and it also followed that the legislature has the power to create tribunals with reference to specific enactments and confer jurisdiction on them to decide disputes in regard to matters arising from such special enactments.
Second, it was held that while the legislature could make a law providing for the constitution of tribunals and prescribing the eligibility criteria and qualifications for being appointed as members, the superior courts in the country could, in the exercise of the power of judicial review, examine whether the qualifications and eligibility criteria provided for selection of members is proper and adequate to enable them to discharge judicial functions and inspire confidence.
Challenges to the judicial development
Despite three landmark judgments, there are a lot of issues regarding the tribunal system in India:
First, the reasons for the establishment of the tribunals included the delivery of speedy justice but if the decisions of the tribunals were subject to judicial review, the High Court would have to hear those cases when already the Supreme Court had the power to do so and hence it would lengthen the judicial process.
Second, the independence of the tribunals is under question as administrative or technical members, are in most instances, appointed by the Executive and many tribunals consist of members from the Executive.
Third, increasing tribunalisation is problematic as there is no uniformity in administration among the tribunals and the functioning of most of the tribunals is in a very bad state.
Currently, there a lot many tribunals functioning in the country, and an exhaustive list of tribunals cannot be prepared. The tribunal system has been growing haphazardly with the lack of any overarching plan. There is no uniform administration of these tribunals and there is flexibility in the norms of natural justice which have to be followed. The problem is compounded by the fact that some tribunals have been created pursuant to the Central legislations and some others have been created by State legislations.
With regard to these issues, it is recommended that first, the Ministry of Law and Justice should prepare a list of tribunals which are currently functioning, along with the legislations they are governed under and the places they are located in. This would spread awareness and would help any person in the country know which tribunal he has to approach in case of a dispute, especially because tribunals would act as courts of first instance in respect of the areas of the law for which they have been constituted.
Second, there should be a body which supervises the functioning of tribunals. It was recommended in Chandra Kumar that the Ministry of Law and Justice should appoint an independent supervisory body to oversee the working of the tribunals like in the United Kingdom, the Tribunals Act provides for the establishment of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council whose functions are to keep the administrative justice system under review and to consider ways to make the system accessible, fair and efficient.
Again as tribunals do not have to follow any uniform procedures but only follow the principles of natural justice, it poses a problem as courts have not laid down even the basic guidelines of natural justice which is applicable to the tribunals. To add to this problem, case law pertaining to natural justice is not consistent and the person affected and the adjudicators are unable to have a clear understanding of the procedures which have to be followed. Therefore, a set of guidelines must be laid down to bring about consistency in the procedure throughout India.
- When there is transfer of jurisdiction of High Court to the Tribunal then in such case the members of the Tribunal must possess the qualifications of the High Court judges.
But when the transfer is of the jurisdiction and functions performed by the District Judge to the Tribunal then in such case the members of the Tribunal must possess the qualifications that of the District judges. This needs to be done so as to give legitimacy to the tribunal as under the domain of the adjudicating body.
- There must be uniformity in the appointment, tenure and service conditions of Chairman, Vice- Chairman and members of the Tribunal as recommended by the 232nd Law Commission Report and the 272nd Law Commission Report.
- Uniformity and transparency in the appointment of the members of the tribunals is necessary. A Selection Board/ Committee consisting two nominees of government and to be headed by CJI or sitting Supreme Court judge must be constituted for the appointment of Judicial members of the Tribunal. Whereas a committee headed by the nominee appointed by the Central government in consultation to the CJI must be constituted for the appointment of the Technical members of the Tribunal.
- The law must provide to challenge the order of the Tribunal or its Appellate Body before the High Court Division Bench.
- There must be constitution of Benches of the Tribunal in different geographical locations and its state agencies.
- There should be a body which supervises the functioning of tribunals. It was recommended in L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India that the Ministry of Law and Justice should appoint an independent supervisory body to oversee the working of the tribunals and similar to the United Kingdom, where the Tribunals Act provides for the establishment of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council whose functions are to keep the administrative justice system under review and to consider ways to make the system accessible, fair and efficient. Thus referring to the U.K model the 272nd Law Commission Report suggest in order to bring uniformity in the affair of the Tribunal there must be monitoring done by a single nodal agency constituted under Ministry of Law and Justice.
- There is no compilation of a list of the kinds and number of tribunals in the country. The Ministry of Law and Justice should prepare a list of tribunals which are currently functioning, along with the legislations they are governed under and the places they are located in. This would spread awareness and would help any person in the country know which tribunal he has to approach in case of a dispute, especially because tribunals would act as courts of first instance in respect of the areas of the law for which they have been constituted.
- As tribunals do not have any uniform procedures but conduct their proceedings as per the Principles of Natural Justice, it poses a problem as courts have not laid down even the basic guidelines of natural justice which is applicable to the tribunals. To add to this problem, the case laws pertaining to natural justice are not consistent and the person affected and the adjudicators are unable to have a clear understanding of the procedures which have to be followed. Flexibility may be justifiable to a certain extent as tribunals should have the freedom to decide the procedures in accordance to the needs of the specific body but this has resulted in a multiplicity of procedures followed by the tribunals and this has led to unpredictability in the procedural laws of the tribunal. Hence for the formulation of minimal norms of procedure to be followed, the recommendations of the Law Commission Report of 1958 must be implemented. The Commission recommended that there should be a legislation for the functioning of tribunals which provides for a simple procedure reflecting the principles of natural justice.
- Sampath Kumar case vested the power of judicial review on administrative tribunals. L.Chandra Kumar has not overruled this aspect, but conferred the power of judicial review on non-administrative tribunals as well. Though Chandra Kumar has created undesirable consequences, it is unfortunate that this position cannot be changed as judicial review has been conclusively been held to be part of the basic structure of the Constitution throughout the history of Indian courts post-independence. In light of the current situation, it is submitted that the power of judicial review be divested from the tribunals and it is recommended that each High Court constitute a separate Bench to deal with the power of judicial review with regard to tribunals in order to expedite the process.
Law Commission of India has persistently supported that the power of High Court against the order of the Tribunal is not only time consuming but also expensive. In the 215th Law Commission Report it was said that Judicial Review of High Court is not as violable as that of the Supreme court. However, this was rebutted in the 272nd Law Commission Report.
- Delhi University Case Material for Administrative Law
- Lectures delivered by Dr. Alok Singh
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 Kagzi, M.C.J, The Indian Administrative Law, Metropolitan Book Co. Pvt. Ltd. 3rd edn., 1973 pp. 276.
 K. I. Vibhute, “Administrative Tribunals and the High Courts: A Plea for Judicial Review” 29 JILI 524 (1987).
 272nd Law Commission Report 2017 Page 9 para 1.16.
 Section 4(1) of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985.
 Section 4(2) of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985.
 Section 4(3) of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985.
 Gujarat Steel Tubes Ltd. v. Gujarat Steel Tubes Mazdoor Sabha, 1980 AIR 1896, 1980 SCR (2) 146.
 S. M. Pattanaik v. Secretary to Government of India, ILR 1986 KAR 3954, (1987) IILLJ 113 Kant.
 J.B. Chopra v. Union of India, AIR 1987 SC 357, (1987) 1 SCC 422.
 S.P. Sampath Kumar v. Union of India, (1987) 1 SCC 124, 1987 AIR 386, 1987 SCR (3) 233.
 Minerva Mills v. Union of India, 1980 AIR 1789, (1980) 3 SCC 625.
 M.B. Majumdar v. Union of India, 1990 AIR 2263, 1990 SCR (3) 946.
 H.N. Patro v. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1993 Supp (1) SCC 550, 1993 (2) MPWN 165.
 L Chandra Kumar v. Union of India, AIR 1997 SC 1125, (1997) 3 SCC 261.
 Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan v. Subash Sharma, (2002) 4 SCC 145.
 Union of India v. R Gandhi, (2010) 6 SCR 857.