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Report No. 58

Observations of Lord Denning

6.20. In this connection, we would like to refer to the observations made by Denning .J., (as he then was) in Rex v. Northumberland Compensation Appeal Tribunal, (1952) 1 All ER 122 (127) (CA), Said Lord Denning:-

"There was no way other than this by which the mistake could be rectified. The Attorney-General pointed out the undesirability of the court interfering with the decisions of tribunals set up by Parliament. I agree with him that the Divisional Court cannot extend its powers. It can only act according to the well-recognised rules. It is equally important that the court should not hesitate to act to prevent an injustice being done if the remedy sought is within the scope of its powers. Much time has been expended in recent years in considering whether in particular circumstances certiorari, or prohibition, will lie. A great deal of it could be saved. The regulations under the National Health Service Act, 1946, are of great complexity. The interpretation of them is left to the tribunal; there is no provision for an appeal to the courts. That position arises frequently now-a-days.

I most earnestly wish that in such cases, where difficult questions of law, and of interpretation, must arise, there should be given some right of appeal. Perhaps the most convenient form is that adopted in section 37 of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946, under which any question of law arising in connection with the determination of certain questions may, if the Ministry thinks fit, be referred to the decision of the High Court, and any person aggrieved by the decision of the Minister on any question of law not so referred may appeal from that decision to the High Court.

And there is provision in sub-section (5) that the decision of the High Court shall be final,-a provision which may be thought desirable in such cases. After all, it is the function of the courts to determine questions of law. Tribunals are sometime given an unduly difficult task. There must be a feeling of dissatisfaction if it is recognised that a decision of a tribunal is wrong in law and yet there is no power to correct it-in other words, if there is no right to obtain the opinion of the court. I am satisfied that the course I have suggested would result in a saving of time, and of expense, and would be for the public good."

6.21. While we agree with the view taken by Denning, L.J., that the remedy by way of an appeal would be more suitable in proceedings before tribunals1, we may, incidentally, point out that the National Insurance Tribunals cannot be compared to the Income-tax Appellate Tribunals in our country. The reason is that Income-tax Appellate Tribunals in India are almost invariably presided over by a Senior Judge with adequate judicial experience.

1. Para. 6.20, supra.

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