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Concerns with Tribunals

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November 15, 2017

Why in news?

The Law Commission of India in its recent report highlighted the issues with tribunals in India and has also made recommendations in this regard.

What are the notable recommendations?

  • Independence - Presently, the government makes appointments to the tribunals which form a pillar of the country's justice delivery system.
  • The tribunals functioning under the very government department which may be a litigant before them, makes the tribunals subservient to the executive.
  • There is an apprehension that this could disturb the independent functioning of the tribunals.
  • Also, the provisions relating to the qualifications, appointment, tenure, etc do not conform to the standards laid down by the Supreme Court in its various decisions.
  • The Law Commission has thus suggested that a Committee led by the CJI should be in charge of the appointments to important posts.
  • These include the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Judicial Members of the various central tribunals.
  • It has also suggested that tribunals be monitored by a single nodal agency under the aegis of the Ministry of Law and Justice to ensure uniformity in affairs.
  • Functioning - The disposal rates of tribunals in comparison to filing of cases per year is a welcoming 94%.
  • However, the tribunals are still burdened with high pendency of cases.
  • Also, the official data in respect of the working of some of the tribunals do not depict a satisfactory picture.
  • Lack of infrastructure, unsatisfactory service conditions, delays engineered by lawyers and parties before the forums have been persistent problems.
  • Vacancy - Another serious problem affecting the efficacy of tribunals is the large number of vacancies that are not filled for long periods.
  • The commission recommends that the procedure for filling up vacancies start six months before the seats fall vacant.

What lies ahead?

  • The concept of tribunals was developed to overcome the crisis of delay and backlogs in courts.
  • However, over the years, the number of tribunals has increased and is estimated to be more than 30.
  • The government recently reduced this number by merging some tribunals with overlapping functions, and is working on further mergers.
  • But before trimming the number of tribunals, there should be earnest efforts to strengthen the high courts.
  • Also, the existing tribunals should be validated with proper measures to ensure their independence.

 

Source: Business Standard, The Hindu

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