2020 SCC Vol. 6 Part 1

Courts, Tribunals and Judiciary — Tribunals — Appointment process — Lack of judicial dominance: Composition of Search-cum-Selection Committees in the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and Other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and Other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2017, being such as to dilute the control of the judiciary in the appointment of Members of tribunals. Such procedure, held, is against constitutional scheme and independence of judiciary. Lack of judicial dominance in the appointment process of Members and Presiding Officers of tribunals is in direct contravention of doctrine of separation of powers and is an encroachment on the judicial domain. Executive is a litigating party in most of the litigations and hence, cannot be allowed to be a dominant participant in judicial appointments. Principle of exclusion of executive control over judiciary is not limited to traditional courts alone but extends to tribunals because tribunals are formed as an alternative to courts and perform judicial functions. Tribunals constituted in substitution of courts should have similar standards of appointment, qualification and conditions of service to inspire confidence of public at large. The Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and Other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and Other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2017, as a whole, held, ultra vires. As interim measure, directed that appointments to the Tribunals/Appellate Tribunals concerned and terms and conditions of appointment, service, superannuation, etc. shall be in terms of the respective statutes as they stood before enactment of Finance Act, 2017. However, Central Government given liberty to seek modification of this order after it has framed fresh Rules strictly in conformity and in accordance with the principles delineated in R.K. Jain, (1993) 4 SCC 119, L. Chandra Kumar, (1997) 3 SCC 261, Madras Bar Assn., (2014) 10 SCC 1 and Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd., (2016) 9 SCC 103 conjointly read with this judgment. However, in case any additional benefits concerning the salaries and emoluments have been granted under the Finance Act, they shall not be withdrawn and will be continued. This would equally apply to all new Members. [Rojer Mathew v. South Indian Bank Ltd., (2020) 6 SCC 1]

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