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The Supreme Court claims that the Centre is ‘emasculating' tribunals by failing to designate members

The Supreme Court warned on Monday that the Centre was "emasculating" tribunals by failing to appoint officials to quasi-judicial bodies that are short on presiding officers, judicial and technical members, and demanded action by 13 September 2021. A special bench led by Chief Justice N. V. Ramana said it wanted the Centre to make some appointments to the tribunals with large vacancies, stressing that it did not want to get into a fight with the government.

Around 250 positions in key tribunals and appellate tribunals such as the NCLT, DRT, TDSAT, and SAT are vacant. “By not making the nominations, you are emasculating the tribunals," said the bench, which also included Justices D. Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao.

The court noted Solicitor General Tushar Mehta's remarks on behalf of the Centre and deferred the hearing on a batch of complaints relating to vacancies at the tribunals and a new statute linked to them until 13 September 2021, adding, "We hope the appointments will be made by then" “It's clear that you don't want to follow this court's decisions. "We now have the option of staying the Tribunal Reforms Act, closing the tribunals, appointing the people ourselves, or initiating contempt of court proceedings," the bench added.

“We don't want to get into a fight with the government, and we're pleased with the way the Supreme Court's nine judges were chosen. This was applauded by the whole legal community...these tribunals are collapsing without members or a chairperson. It commented, "Tell us about your alternative plans." Mehta stated that the government does not want a confrontation and requested time because Attorney General K. K. Venugopal, who has been helping the bench in these petitions, has been dealing with personal issues.

The Supreme Court also issued notices on several new petitions, including one filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, which questions the constitutional validity of various provisions of the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021, which was passed during the recent Monsoon Session of Parliament and received Presidential assent on 13 August 2021.

Ramesh claims he filed the petition in the public interest, alleging that the proviso to Section 3(1), as well as Sections 3(7), 5, and 7(1) of the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021, is ultra vires Articles 14, 21, and 50 of the Constitution.

The approval of a bill on tribunals with elements that had been knocked down earlier, without any debate in Parliament, was deemed "serious" by the Supreme Court on 16 August. The court then gave the Centre 10 days to designate people to the tribunals. The bench had listed 15 quasi-judicial organisations that had vacancies, including Debts Recovery Tribunals (DRTs), Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT), Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), and National Companies Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

In these tribunals, there are 19 vacant presiding officers or chairmanships, as well as 110 and 111 judicial and technical memberships, respectively, according to the bench.


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