Bill to lower number of tribunals introduced in Lok Sabha

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 02, 2021

Also prescribes mechanism of direct filing of appeal in court

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced a Bill to reform the tribunal system in Lok Sabha on Monday.

The bill titled “The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill will replace an ordinance. It covers sixteen tribunals including Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and Central Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) beside five appellate tribunals.

It provides for uniform terms and conditions for chairs and members. People will be recommended to these posts by a search-cum-selection committee headed by the Chief Justice of India or a judge nominated by him. In case of a state administrative tribunal, the committee will be headed by the Chief Justice of the High Court of the concerned state.

The committee will recommend a panel of two names for each of post. The government is expected to make the final decision, preferably within three months. The committee will also recommend the removal of chairsand members.

The chair and members will hold office for a term of four years. The age of retirement will be seventy years for the chair and sixty-seven years for a member. Post completion of a term, they will be eligible for retirement.

The process of rationalisation

According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, the government began the process of rationalisation of tribunals in 2015. Under the Finance Act, 2017, seven tribunals were abolished or merged based on functional similarity and their total number was reduced from twenty-six to nineteen. The rationale followed in the first phase was to close down tribunals which were not necessary and to merge tribunals with similar functions.

Analysis of data of the last three years has shown that tribunals in several sectors have not necessarily led to faster justice delivery and they are a considerable expense to the exchequer. The Supreme Court also deprecated the practice of tribunalisation of justice and filing of appeals directly from tribunals to the apex court in many of its judgements, Therefore in the second phase “further streamlining of tribunals was considered necessary as it would save considerable expense to the exchequer and at the same time, lead to speedy delivery of justice,” the statement said.

The Bill proposes to abolish more tribunals and authorities and provide for a mechanism to file an appeal directly to the Commercial Court or the High Court.

Published on August 02, 2021

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