New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday criticized the Centre for not appointing officials to the quasi-judicial bodies which are facing a severe crunch of presiding officers as well as judicial and technical members and sought action on the matter by September 13, 2021.

You are emasculating the tribunals by not making the appointments, said the bench according to a PTI report.

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A special bench which was head by Chief Justice N V Ramana and included Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said it wanted the Centre to make some appointments to the tribunals facing huge vacancies. 

‘It is clear that you do not want to respect the judgments of this court. Now, we have the option to stay the Tribunal Reforms Act or close down the tribunals or we ourselves appoint the people or the next option is to initiate the contempt of courts proceedings’, the bench said.

Taking note of the submissions made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who was appearing for the Centre. The apex court adjourned the hearing on a batch of pleas pertaining to the vacancies at the tribunals and a new law related to them for further hearing on September 13.

We hope the appointments will be made by then, the bench said. 

“We are upset… but we don’t want confrontation with the government,” the Chief Justice said.

We are happy with the way the nine Supreme Court judges were appointed. The entire legal fraternity appreciated this…these tribunals are collapsing with no members or chairpersons, it added.

The Court further asked for alternative plans. To which, Mehta said the government does not want any confrontation either and sought time on the grounds that Attorney General K K Venugopal, who has been assisting the bench in these matters, has been facing some personal difficulties.

The top court on August 16 had termed “serious” the passage of Bill on tribunals with the provisions, struck down earlier, without any debate in Parliament. The court had then granted 10 days to the Centre to make appointments to the tribunals.

The top court also issued notices on several fresh pleas including the one filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh challenging the Constitutional validity of various provisions of the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021, which was passed during the recent Monsoon Session of Parliament and received Presidential assent on August 13, 2021.

Ramesh said he has filed the petition in public interest assailing the proviso to Section 3(1) along with Sections 3(7), 5 and 7(1) of the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021 as being ultra-vires Articles 14, 21 and 50 of the Constitution.

There are around 250 posts lying vacant at various key tribunals and appellate tribunals such as NCLT, DRT, TDSAT and T. The bench had given details of pending vacancies in 15 quasi-judicial bodies such as Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRTs), DRAT, Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT), Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and National Companies Law Appellate Tribunal or NCLAT.

There are 19 vacant positions of presiding officers or the chairman in these tribunals, besides 110 and 111 posts of judicial and technical members respectively lying vacant, the bench had said.

 

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