Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Supreme Court adjourns plea by NCLT Bar Association on fixing tenure of NCLT members to three years

The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the writ petition filed by the National Company Law Tribunal Bar Association, challenging the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ (MCA) notification fixing the tenure of members of NCLT at three years.

A Vacation Bench comprising Justice C.T. Ravikumar and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia observed that the locus standi of the petitioner was the first issue, which has to be considered in the matter.

It said none of the members, who accepted the appointments based on the three year term, have challenged the notification.

The bench noted that the issue on whether the members can continue beyond the term of three years, can be decided in the petition, if the issue of locus was answered in favour of the petitioner.

The Apex Court also declined the request of a judicial member of NCLT, who requested the court to let him make submission in the plea filed by the National Company Law Tribunal Bar Association.

The court asked him to file an application for intervention before making any submissions.

Justice C.T. Ravikumar remarked “Do we have to tell this to a judicial member? We don’t want to embarrass you.”

Earlier on June 15, the Apex Court had adjourned the NCLT Bar Association’s plea.

The court was miffed because the MCA Counsel shared just one copy of the minutes of the committee meeting to the two-judge vacation bench of Justice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice Hima Kohli.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta apologised to the bench for the mix up and offered to file the copy of the minutes in a sealed cover.

Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for NCLT Bar, objected to the sealed cover saying that it should be shared with the bar and the bar was before the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court had issued notice on the plea against the fixing of the tenure of NCLT at 3 years while seeking direction to increase it to 5 years.

The petitioner had argued that the early leaving of the members will leave several seats vacant that will lead to pendency of matters. 

In addition to this, it was further argued that the notification is in violation of the Supreme Court judgment in Madras Bar Association Vs Union of India & Anr, wherein it was said that the tenure shall be five years for the members.

The Counsel further submitted that the tenure of three years is a very short period and it isn’t useful as by the time a member attains the required knowledge, experience and expertise, the tenure expires.

The court will hear this matter on 20th July.


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