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Supreme Court strikes down provisions of 2021 tribunal reforms ordinance

These courts are the roots of the independence of the Judiciary. It’s different from the policy decision of the Government. This is rational as no basis was given and discriminatory. The first proviso to section 181 is unconstitutional,” said Justice S Ravindra Bhat.

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The Supreme Court has struck down the provisions of Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021, which fixed the term of members of various tribunals as four years by stating the decision of the Government is irrational, arbitrary, and discriminatory.

Justice L. Nageswara Rao said it appears the decision of the Government contrary to the findings of this Court which were passed earlier. “Decision of the Government is unconstitutional,” he said. 

Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat gave the concurring judgment with Justice Bhat giving a separate reasoning in his judgment.

“I concur with the finding of Justice L. Nageswara Rao. These courts are the roots of the independence of the judiciary. It’s different from the policy decision of the Government. This is irrational as no basis were given and (is) discriminatory. The first proviso to section 181 is unconstitutional,” said Justice S. Ravindra Bhat. 

Justice Hemant Gupta gave a dissenting judgment. The Supreme Court pronounced its decision on the plea filed by the Madras Bar Association challenging Sections 12 and 13 of the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021 and Sections 184 and 186(2) of the Finance Act, 2017 as amended.

Also Read: Andhra Pradesh approaches Supreme Court seeking directions to stop illegal usage of water from inter-state irrigation projects

The bench of Justices Rao, Gupta and Bhat had reserved its order on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021, which sought to differ from the Supreme Court mandate for a five year tenure to chairpersons and members of tribunals by prescribing a four-year tenure; also fixing eligibility age at 50, which negated the court order for allowing lawyers with 10 years experience to be in the zone of consideration.

Read order below:

10688_2021_36_1501_28573_Judgement_14-Jul-2021

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