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Report No. 272

Chapter - III

Tribunal System in India

3.1. In India, the function of dispensing justice is entrusted to regularly established Courts on the pattern of Common law system. History of tribunals in India stands reflected dating back to the year 1941,42 when first Tribunal was established in the form of Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal. The Tribunals were however, set up to reduce the workload of courts, to expedite decisions and to provide a forum which would be manned by lawyers and experts in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

The Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act of 1976 brought about a massive change in the adjudication of disputes in the country. It provided for the insertion of Articles 323-A and 323-B in the Constitution of India, whereby the goal of establishment of Administrative Tribunals by the Parliament as well as the State Legislatures, to adjudicate the matters specified in the sub-clauses is made possible.43

42 Justice D.K. Jain's speech in Chandigarh Judicial Academy on the eve of Silver Jubilee of the Chandigarh Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal on November 19, 2011.

43 Sarayu Satish, "The Tribunal System in India - Increasing in Importance but Increasing in effectiveness?" WLR 2.

3.2. There is a distinction between Article 323-A and 323-B as the former gives exclusive power to the Parliament and the latter gives power to the concerned State Legislature which is concurrent in nature by which the Parliament and the State Legislature can by law, constitute Tribunals for the respective subjects specified therein. This is evident from the explanation appended to Article 323-B of the Constitution. The provisions of both these Articles are to be given effect irrespective of any other provision of the Constitution or any other law for the time being in force.

3.3. The judicial system of India is divided into three tiers. The subordinate courts are vested with the original jurisdiction in all matters except those, which are barred either expressly or impliedly. The High courts in general have appellate and revisional jurisdiction in the respective States along with the jurisdiction to issue prerogative writs. Some of the High Courts have original jurisdiction. The High Courts also entertain appeals/writs against the judgments rendered by some of the Tribunals.

The Supreme Court has been conferred with original jurisdiction under Article 131 (disputes between two or more States, or between the Government of India and one or more States, or disputes arising out of the election of the President and Vice-President of India) and advisory jurisdiction under Article 143, where the President of India may seek the opinion of the Court on a particular issue of fact or law of general public importance.

It can issue the prerogative writs under Article 32 of the Constitution and has appellate jurisdiction against the orders passed by the High Courts, Tribunals or the Appellate Tribunals established under various Statutes. The Court also has discretion to entertain Special Leave Petitions under Article 136 on substantial question of law or issues of general public importance.

3.4. Due to growing commercial ventures and activities by the Government in different sectors, along with the expansion of Governmental activities in the social and other similar fields, a need has arisen for availing the services of persons having knowledge in specialised fields for effective and speedier dispensation of justice as the traditional mode of administration of justice by the Courts of law was felt to be unequipped with such expertise to deal with the complex issues arising in the changing scenario.44

44 R.C. Saksena, "Adjudication by Tribunals in India" 37:2 JILI 223 (1995).

Assessment of Statutory Frameworks of Tribunals in India Back

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