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Report No. 272

F. 162nd Report of Law Commission of India, 1998

4.11 The Commission in its Report titled 'Review of Functioning of Central Administrative Tribunal; Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal; and Income Tax Appellate Tribunal' made an alternative recommendation for the constitution of National Appellate Administrative Tribunal observing:

'The Supreme Court has laid down in L. Chandra Kumar's case (Supra) that an aggrieved party can have recourse to the jurisdiction of the respective High Court under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India, against the decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal. The repercussions of this development of law have already been felt. The Karnataka Government has sought to abolish the Karnataka State Administrative Tribunal. In the news items in the recent past, it has appeared that even the Central Government is proposing to abolish CAT.

The remedy of judicial review by the High Court provided against the decision of the Administrative Tribunal and a possible further appeal to the Supreme Court under Article 136 is not only time-consuming but also expensive. Besides this, the various High Courts may interpret differently any statutory provision concerning the service conditions governing the employees. Thus, the lack of uniformity in the High Court decisions and consequently in CAT benches will create confusion in the mind of the litigant. It will further make the public lose faith in seeking justice through the judiciary, and thus undermine the democratic norms.

An appeal, on substantial questions of law and fact may lie to the proposed Appellate forum, against the decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal.

The proposed forum may have branches all over the country to reduce the cost of litigation to the litigant.

The decision of the proposed Appellate court will be binding on all benches of CAT. The proposed forum will be of status higher than a High Court but below the Supreme Court.

It is the need of the hour that for expeditious disposal of cases, all cases which raise one or more common questions of law and on the basis of which, the cases can be disposed of by a common judgment, should be grouped together and heard together. Thus in the 79th Report of the Law Commission of India on delay and arrears in High Courts and other appellate courts, this recommendation has been echoed.'

4.12 Regarding the position of the Administrative Tribunal after L. Chandra Kumar, the Commission observed:

'It is no longer an alternative mechanism to the High Court, but a tribunal whose decisions are subject to scrutiny by the High Court, albeit by a Division Bench.

The Supreme Court has also held that though these tribunals are subject to the writ jurisdiction of the High Courts, they are yet competent to decide questions relating to the constitutional validity of the statutory provisions and rules except, of course, the provisions of the Administrative Tribunals Act 1985 under which they have been constituted. The Supreme Court has also rejected that there ought to be no technical/administrative members in these tribunals. They said that these non-judicial members provide an input which may not be available with the judicial members. In the light of the above dicta of the Supreme Court, not much room is left for the Law Commission of India to suggest any substantial measures or recommendations with respect to the functioning of these tribunals.'

Assessment of Statutory Frameworks of Tribunals in India Back

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