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Report No. 215

2. Background of The Administrative Tribunals Act 1985

2.1 The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice in its Seventeenth Report on the Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Bill 2006 (as introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 18.03.2006), submitted to the Parliament on 5th December 2006, described the background, objective and significance of the Administrative Tribunals Act 1985 in the following words:

'5. The framers of the Constitution of India in their wisdom invested the Supreme Court and the various High Courts with the power of judicial review by specifically enacting Articles 2032, 136, 226 and 227 of the Constitution. With the enactment of Articles 12, 14, 15, 16, 309 and 311 in the Constitution, a large number of service matters calling for the adjudication of disputes relating to the recruitment and conditions of service of Government servants and also of employees in other fields of public employment started coming up before the various High Courts whose power of judicial review was invoked for the said purpose by the aggrieved employees.

5.1. The High Courts played a definite and significant role in evolving the service jurisprudence in the exercise of their power of judicial review.

The positive contribution by the High Courts made as aforesaid, coupled with the growth in the number of employees in the public field and the manifold problems arising in the context of their recruitment and conditions of service and their implicit faith and confidence in the High Courts as the unfailing protector of their rights and honour, led to a gradual increase in the institution and pendency of service matters in the High Courts. This, in turn, focused the attention of the Union Government on the problem of finding an effective alternative institutional mechanism for the disposal of such specialized matters.

5.2. A Committee set up by the Union Government in 1969 under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice J.C. Shah recommended for setting up of an independent Tribunal to handle service matters pending before the High Courts and the Supreme Court.

In the 124th Report of the Law Commission of India, it was cited that in Australia, Tribunals outside the established courts have been created - Administrative Appeal Tribunals, Arbitration Tribunals, Workers' Compensation Tribunals, Pension Tribunals, Planning Appeal Tribunal, Equal Opportunity Tribunals, to name a few. This activity of creating Tribunals is founded on a belief that the established Courts are too remote, too legalistic, too expensive and, above all too slow.

5.3. The Law Commission of India had recommended for the establishment at the Centre and the State of an appellate Tribunal or Tribunals presided over by a legally qualified Chairman and with experienced civil servants as Members to hear appeals from Government servants in respect of disciplinary and other action against them.

The First Administrative Reforms Commission had also recommended for the setting up of Civil Services Tribunals to deal with the appeals of Government servants against disciplinary actions. Some of the State Legislatures thereupon enacted laws setting up Tribunals to decide such cases. Part XIV A comprising Articles 323-A and 323-B was also inserted in the Constitution of India by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Bill, 1976 with effect from 3rd January 1977.

Article 323-A inter alia authorized Parliament to provide by law for setting up of Administrative Tribunals for the adjudication of disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of certain categories of employees in the field of public employment including Government servants and also to provide for the exclusion of the jurisdiction of all courts, except that of the Supreme Court under Article 136, with respect to disputes or complaints of such nature. No immediate step was, however, taken in the direction of enacting a law for the setting up of Administrative Tribunals as contemplated by the said Article.

5.4. Ultimately, Parliament enacted the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 which received the assent of the President on the 27th February 1985. In pursuance of the provisions contained in the Act, the Administrative Tribunals set up under it exercise original jurisdiction in respect of service matters of employees covered under the Act.

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