Saturday, February 4, 2023

Supreme Court says Centre hasn’t honoured its verdict in tribunal reforms case

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The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that, according to Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, almost all vacancies have been filled except in some Tribunals, including the National Green Tribunal, Armed Forces Tribunal and the Central Administrative Tribunal.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice Hima Kohli stated that the appointment to the Armed Forces Tribunal and Central Administrative Tribunal are still pending with the selection committee which are headed by Supreme Court judges.

With regard to the issue of passing the Tribunals Reforms Act, CJI Ramana said the Central Government hasn’t honoured its judgment in the Madras Bar Association case.

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Senior Advocate Arvind Datar contended that after the Tribunal Reforms Act, advocates below the age of 50 years are not eligible even after the Court clearly said that such a distinction cannot be made as per Supreme Court’s judgement in the Madras Bar Association case and the minimum age qualification of 50 years in the Tribunals Reforms Ordinance 2021 had been struck down.

He further submitted that once a Supreme Court Judge committee decides there’s no question of the Government having a say in those appointments  as far as the selection committee is concerned.

The Bench has posted the matter on March 24, 2022 for further hearing.

Earlier in October last year, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that policy is exclusively a matter for the Legislature and the Executive, and should not be interfered with by the Judiciary, unless it violates fundamental rights or any other provision of the Constitution.

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The Apex Court was hearing a bunch of petitions on vacancies across the tribunals and a challenge to the Tribunal Reforms Bill.

The Supreme Court on September 6 came down heavily on the Central government for enacting the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021 in an arbitrary manner, reducing the terms of members and chairman of Tribunals and being identical to the “earlier law struck down” by the apex court.

Two writ petitions are pending before the Supreme Court challenging the Tribunals Reforms Act 2021 filed by Madras Bar Association and Congress MP Jairam Ramesh.

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The petition challenged the constitutional validity of various provisions of the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021. The petition assailed Sections 3(1), 3(7), 5 and 7(1) of Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021.

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