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Report No. 115

Tax Courts

Chapter I


1.1. Government of India was toying with an idea of setting-up a separate Judicial Reforms Commission. In February, 1986, Government of India decided to assign the task of studying and recommending judicial reforms to the Law Commission. Terms of reference in the context of studying judicial reforms which were drawn-up were forwarded to the Law Commission. On receipt of the terms of reference, the Law Commission drew-up its own programme of action and commenced work according to the schedule set out in the programme. Introducing reforms in the judicial system requires a multi-pronged approach.

Before undertaking the task of recommending reforms, it is necessary to apprise oneself about the present judicial administration in vogue; its infirmities, deficiencies, deformities and weaknesses as well as its strength and retainable features, causes that contributed to the present disconcerting situation; whether repairing the system can improve the situation or restructuring it as a whole or in parts is inevitable. The changes to be introduced must not only have newness and utility, but also they must be result-oriented. It is, therefore, inevitable to approach the question of reforms in judicial administration from different angles. Unless the disease is diagnosed, the remedy, if any prescribed, is likely to prove infructuous.

1.2. Numerous causes have been identified by the Law Commission which have individually and cumulatively contributed to making the present administration of justice stratified, highly expensive, inaccessible, unduly formal, protracted and dilatory. Each of these causes is individually dangerous enough to destroy the judicial administration but in their cumulative effect, have made administration of justice a preserve of the rich and the well-to-do to be used generally for shadow-boxing. Poorman can ill-afford the luxury of modern litigation. He is wholly alienated from the system. Judicial reforms to be effective must make the system resilient, speedy, inexpensive, result-oriented and the access to it unimpeded. While drawing-up the terms of reference in the context of studying judicial, reforms, each of these contributory factors have been kept in view so that each one can be tackled by a definite and separate report.

1.3. Amongst the terms of reference, Item Nos. 1(iii) and 2 read as under:

"1. The need for decentralisation of the system of administration of justice by-

(i) ....................

(ii) .....................

(iii) establishing other tiers or systems within the judicial hierarchy to reduce the volume of work in the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

2. The matters for which Tribunals (excluding services Tribunals) as envisaged in Part XIVA of the Constitution need to be established expeditiously and various aspects related to their establishment and working."

1.4. The genesis of Term No. 1(iii) appears to be the mounting backlog of cases in the Supreme Court and the High Courts. Any proposed reform in the administration of justice must amongst others take note of the fact that the present system of disposal of cases have an inbuilt tendency of piling-up arrears because the inflow and the outflow are not coordinated. The Law Commission is accordingly asked to examine the present hierarchy of courts in relation to the question of inflow of work in the High Courts and the Supreme Court and the incapacity of the system to deal with the same. As a corollary, by Term No. 2, the Law Commission was required to examine the question of establishing Tribunals as envisaged in Part XIVA of the Constitution so as to diversify the administration of justice with a view to reducing the volume of work in the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

1.5. Administration of justice primarily aims at providing mechanism for resolution of disputes arising in the society. Different form have been set-up to deal with different types of disputes e.g. civil courts, criminal courts, labour courts, tax tribunals etc. Specific forum specially devised to deal with specific disputes caters to the needs of persons who seek resolution of these specified types of disputes.

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