Tribunals shouldn’t be heaven for retired persons; Proper recruitment process should be followed: SC constitutes a committee

Supreme Court: Acknowledging the need of having an effective and autonomous oversight body for all the Tribunals, the bench of AK Goel and Indu Malhotra, JJ called for urgent setting up of a committee, preferably of three members, one of whom must be retired judge of this Court who may be served in a Tribunal. The Court said that such body should be responsible for recruitments and oversight of functioning of members of the Tribunals.

During the course of hearing, it was brought to the Court’s notice that appointment, norms and functioning of Debt Recovery Tribunals was not consistent with the observations of this Court in various judgments and hence, restructuring of Tribunals and specially creation of a regular cadre to man the Tribunals was necessary.

Amicus Curiae Arvind P. Datar suggested setting up of all India Tribunal service on the pattern of U.K.  and said that the members can be drawn either from the serving officers in Higher Judicial Service or directly recruited with appropriate qualifications by national competition. He also submitted a Concept Note before the Court in which he suggested:

“The Tribunals should not be heaven for retired persons and appointment process should not result in decisions being influenced if the Government itself is a litigant and the appointing authority at the same time. There should be restriction on acceptance of any employment after retirement.”

The Court, hence, summed up the following issues for the consideration of the committee:

  1. Creation of a regular cadres laying down eligibility for recruitment for Tribunals;
  2. Setting up of an autonomous oversight body for recruitment and overseeing the performance and discipline of the members so recruited and other issues relating thereto;
  3. Amending the scheme of direct appeals to this Court so that the orders of Tribunals are subject to jurisdiction of the High Courts;
  4. Making Benches of Tribunals accessible to common man at convenient locations instead of having only one location at Delhi or elsewhere. In the alternative, conferring jurisdiction on existing courts as special Courts or Tribunals.

The Court directed that the Committee can have inter action with all stakeholders and suggest a mechanism in a time bound manner, consistent with the constitutional scheme as interpreted by this Court in several decisions and also in the light of recommendations of expert bodies.

The Court will next take up the matter on 10.05.2018. [Roger Mathew v. South Indian Bank Limited,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 500, order dated 07.05.2018]

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