Report No. 215
8. Conclusion and Recommendations
8.1 The impression that the Tribunal constituted under the Act of 1985 may be dependent upon the Government is misconceived. The functioning of the Tribunal is not at all controlled by the Government, in any manner whatsoever. The Chairman, ViceChairmen and Members - Judicial/Administrative, are discharging their duties similarly as are being discharged by higher judiciary in the country. However, to allay the apprehension that the Tribunal may be controlled in certain matters by the Government, the Chairman of the Tribunal can be given powers akin to that of Chief Justice of a High Court.
In that connection, a provision in the Act of 691985, similar to the one as article 229 of the Constitution, with regard to laying down conditions of service of employees of the Tribunal can be vested with the Chairman. More independence in financial matters, as enjoyed by the Chief Justice of a High Court can be vested with the Chairman of the Tribunal. Nodal Ministry for the Tribunal can be Ministry of Law and Justice, instead of Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
8.2 We feel that if there may be an impression that there has to be at least one appeal provided against the orders passed by the Tribunal before the matter may reach the Supreme Court, intratribunal appeal, similar to the one provided in every High Court either by way of letters patent appeal or a writ appeal, can be provided under the Act of 1985 itself.
By way of suitable amendment thus brought about in the Act of 1985, a provision for intra-tribunal appeal can be made so that an order passed by a single Member Bench would be amenable to appeal before a Division Bench, and the decision of a Division Bench can be challenged before a Bench consisting of three or more Members.
Four zones in the country, viz., North, East, West, and South, can be made where the appeals from various Benches may be filed. This may only involve creation of, at the most, eight to ten posts of Members in the Tribunal. After the decision recorded by an appellate Bench, the matter can be taken to the Supreme Court by way of special leave petition.
8.3 A Judge, sitting or retired, is eligible to be appointed as Chairman in view of the provisions contained in section 6 of the Act of 1985. However, by tradition and practice, considering the importance of functions entrusted to the Tribunal, a Chief Justice of High Court, sitting or retired, is appointed as Chairman. The first seven Chairmen appointed since 1985 were all sitting or former Chief Justices of High Courts. Only for a brief period, two Chairmen thereafter were not Chief Justices of High Courts. Presently, the Chairman is also former Chief Justice.
It is, however, learnt that an order by the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India on the administrative side has been passed that the post of Chairman of the Tribunal would be always occupied by a sitting or former Chief Justice of High Court. A suitable amendment in section 6 of the Act of 1985 can be made to make only a sitting or former Chief Justice of High Court or Judge of the Supreme Court to be qualified for appointment as Chairman.
8.4 The Parliamentary Standing Committee1 expressed the view:
"Maybe, a retired judge of the Supreme Court can preside over. And, maybe, other member could be from the judiciary; not from the district judges, but from the level of High Courts, we can keep one. And, then, the third and fourth members can be from the administration so that the dignity and strength of the tribunal is enhanced to that extent."
1. Department-related Parliamentary Standing committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, Seventeenth REport on the Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Bill, 2006, December 2006, paragraph 11.10.
8.5 The Law Commission is of the opinion that in view of the circumstances stated in previous chapters, the subject definitely requires the attention of the Government of India and the State Governments and that the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in L. Chandra Kumar's case requires reconsideration by a larger Bench of the Supreme Court in the interest of the government servants, both Central and the State, to achieve the object of the Act, namely, speedy and less expensive justice. If this proposal is taken up in the right perspective, it will not only reduce the heavy expenditure by way of fees etc. to the counsel and also the time.
8.6 The Law Commission, therefore, recommends to the Government of India to request the Hon'ble Supreme Court to reconsider L. Chandra Kumar's case. In the alternative, necessary and appropriate amendments in the Administrative Tribunals Act 1985 may be effected in accordance with law.