Report No. 215
Objective of the Act
5.5. The Statement of Objects and Reasons accompanying the Constitutional Amendment Bill by which Article 323-A was sought to be inserted in the Constitution states the following words:
"To reduce the mounting arrears in High Courts and to secure the speedy disposal of service matters it is considered expedient to provide for administrative tribunals for dealing with such matters while preserving the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in regard to such matters under Article 136 of the Constitution."
5.6. The Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the introduced version of the Administrative Tribunals Bill, which on being passed and approved became the Act of 1985, also contained similar recitals:
"The establishment of Administrative Tribunals under the aforesaid provision of the Constitution has become necessary since a large number of cases relating to service matters are pending before the various Courts. It is expected that the setting up of such Administrative Tribunals to deal exclusively with service matters would go a long way in not only reducing the burden of the various Courts and thereby giving them more time to deal with other cases expeditiously but would also provide to the persons covered by the Administrative Tribunals speedy relief in respect of their grievances."
5.7. In pursuance of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, the Central Administrative Tribunal was set up on 1.11.1985. At present, it has 17 regular Benches, 15 of which operate at the principal seats of High Courts and the remaining two at Jaipur and Lucknow. These Benches also hold circuit sittings at other seats of High Courts.
The Tribunal consists of a Chairman, a Vice Chairman and Members. The Vice Chairman and Members are drawn both from judicial and administrative spheres. State Administrative Tribunals were set up by the Governments of the States of Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal under the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985.
5.8. The appointment of the Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal, as per practice, is initiated by the Chief Justice of India on a reference made to this effect by the Union Government. The appointment of Vice Chairman and Members in Central Administrative Tribunal are made on the basis of recommendations of a Selection Committee chaired by a nominee of the Chief Justice of India, who is a sitting judge of the Supreme Court. The appointments are made with the approval of Appointments Committee of the Cabinet after obtaining the concurrence of the Chief Justice of India.
5.9. The appointments to the vacancies in State Administrative Tribunals are made on the basis of proposals sent by the State Governments, with the approval of the Governors. Thereafter, their appointments undergo the same process as the one in respect of Central Administrative Tribunal.
6. Significance of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985. The enactment of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 opened a new chapter in the sphere of administering justice to the aggrieved Government servants in service matters. The Act provides for establishment of Central Administrative Tribunal and the State Administrative Tribunals.
The settingup of these Tribunals is founded on the premise that specialist bodies comprising both trained administrators and those with judicial experience would, by virtue of their specialized knowledge, be better equipped to dispense speedy and efficient justice. It was expected that a judicious mix of judicial members and those with grass-root experience would best serve this purpose.
6.1. The Administrative Tribunals are distinguishable from the ordinary courts with regard to their jurisdiction and procedure. They exercise jurisdiction only in relation to the service matters of the litigants covered by the Act. They are also free from the shackles of many of the technicalities of the ordinary Courts. The procedural simplicity of the Act can be appreciated from the fact that the aggrieved person can also appear before it personally.
The Government can also present its case through its Departmental officers or legal practitioners. Further, only a nominal fee of Rs.50/- is to be paid by the litigant for filing an application before the Tribunal [Section 7 of the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987]. Thus, the objective of the Tribunal is to provide speedy and inexpensive justice to the litigants.
6.2. The establishment of Administrative Tribunals was a right step in the direction of providing an effective alternative authority to Government employees who feel aggrieved by the decisions of the Government, in spite of the elaborate system of rules and regulations which govern personnel management, for judicial review over service matters to the exclusion of all courts including High Courts other than the Supreme Court, with the end in view of reducing the burden of such Courts and of securing expeditious disposal of such matters.'
2.2 In Kamal Kanti Dutta v. UOI, (1980) 4 SCC 38., the then Chief Justice of India, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Y. V. Chandrachud, speaking for the majority, observed:
"The constitution of Service Tribunals by State Governments with an apex Tribunal at the Centre, which, in the generality of cases, should be the final arbiter of controversies relating to conditions of service, including the vexed question of seniority, may save the courts from the avalanche of writ petitions and appeals in service matters. The proceedings of such tribunals can have the merit of informality and if they will not be tied down to strict rules of evidence, they might be able to produce solutions which will satisfy many and displease only a few."
2.3 The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill which led to the enactment of the Administrative Tribunals Act 1985 reads as follows:
"Article 323A of the Constitution stipulates that Parliament may, by law, provide for the adjudication or trial by Administrative Tribunal of disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State or of any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India or of any Corporation owned or controlled by the Government.
2. The Bill seeks to give effect to the aforesaid constitutional provision by providing for the establishment of an Administrative Tribunal for the Union and a separate Administrative Tribunal for a State or a Joint Administrative Tribunal for two or more States. The Bill also provides for-
(a) the jurisdiction, powers (including the power to punish for contempt) and authority which may be exercised by each Tribunal;
(b) the procedure (including provision as to limitation and rules of evidence) to be followed by the State Tribunals;
(c) exclusion of the jurisdiction of all courts, except that of the Supreme Court under article 136 of the Constitution relating to service matters;
(d) the transfer to each Administrative Tribunal of any suit or other proceedings pending before any court or other authority immediately before the establishment of such Tribunal as would have been within the jurisdiction of such Tribunal if the causes of action on which such suits or proceedings are based had arisen after such establishment.
3. The establishment of Administrative Tribunal under the aforesaid provision of the Constitution has become necessary since a large number of cases relating to service maters are pending before the various courts. It is expected that the setting up of such Administrative Tribunals to deal exclusively with service matters would go a long way in not only reducing the burden of the various courts and thereby giving them more time to deal with other cases expeditiously but would also provide to the persons covered by the Administrative Tribunals speedy relief in respect of their grievances."
2.4 Section 22(1) of the Administrative Tribunals Act 1985 provides that the Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 but shall be guided by the principles of natural justice and subject to the other provisions of the Act and of any rules made by the Central Government, the Tribunal shall have power to regulate its own procedure including the fixing of places and times of its inquiry and deciding whether to sit in public or in private.
2.5 Section 28 of the Administrative Tribunals Act excludes jurisdiction of all courts except the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, as envisaged under sub-clause (d) of clause (2) of the Article 323A of the Constitution. Accordingly, the jurisdiction of High Courts under articles 226/227 as regards service matters is excluded by the Act.