Centre gets moving, invites applications for post of judicial, technical members at NCLT

K.R.Srivats New Delhi | Updated on October 18, 2021

Process for five posts at NCLAT also kicks off

Exercising its jurisdiction in the contentious Section 3(1) of the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021 that lays down 50 years as the age eligibility criteria for appointment as chairperson or member of a tribunal, the Centre has invited applications for National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

The Tribunal Reforms Act is currently under review by the Supreme Court which had earlier specifically struck down Section 3(1) which bars appointments to tribunals of persons below 50 years of age.

The Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA) has now invited online applications for nine posts of Judicial Members and six posts of Technical Members at the NCLT, which is the main Adjudicating Authority for Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) cases. Nearly 40 per cent of the benches have been vacant in NCLT, which has a sanctioned strength of 62 members.

The government has, of late, been on an overdrive to fill these vacancies. Of the sanctioned strength of 62 at NCLT, the functioning strength till two weeks back was about 30. In the last two weeks, as many as 18 members have been appointed and now the MCA has invited applications for about 15 more, sources said.

The 15 members for whom applications have been invited will have a term of five years or hold the office till attaining the age of 65.years, whichever is earlier. A person appointed is also eligible for reappointment for another five years. Simultaneously, the Centre has sought to fill three posts of judicial members and two posts of technical members at the NCLAT benches in Delhi and Chennai.

Eligibility criteria

The eligibility criteria for being appointed as a Judicial Member is that the applicant should have been a judge of a High Court or a judicial member of NCLT for five years or an advocate for ten years with substantial experience in litigation in matters relating to company affairs before NCLT, NCLAT, High Court or Supreme Court.

For Technical Members, a minimum professional experience of 25 years has been stipulated in areas such as law, industrial finance, industrial management, industrial reconstruction, investment, accountancy or any other matter useful to NCLAT.

The Centre had, in August this year, enacted the Tribunal Reforms Act which has been challenged in the Supreme Court through a PIL that argues that the Act is identical to a prior ordinance that had been struck down by the Apex Court. On the very first day that the PIL was taken up, a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana rapped the government for its inaction in filling up vacancies in tribunals and for enacting the Tribunal Reforms Act overruling the Court’s earlier judgments. “You are testing our patience,” the Chief Justice had said.

‘Would be a challenge’

Aseem Chawla, Managing Partner, ASC Legal, a law firm, said that appointments would be a challenge if the minimum eligibility age is 50 years. “The said legislation has been a bane considering the manner in which the executive has decided to move ahead with regard to selection/appointment criteria of members,” he said.

Published on October 18, 2021

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