In the backdrop of an ongoing debate over proliferation of tribunals, Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan on Sunday said there were “compelling reasons” for their continuation as they were more accessible to litigants.
“At an academic level, several arguments can be made against ‘tribunalisation’ of justice. However, keeping practical considerations in mind, there are some compelling reasons for continuing them,” Justice Balakrishnan said, addressing a conference of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
In administrative tribunals, the presence of administrative members improved the quality of adjudication since they were well-versed with everyday functioning of government departments, authorities and public sector undertakings, enabling them to better appreciate the grievances brought before them.
“Furthermore, these tribunals are more accessible to litigants, both in terms of lower costs and absence of complex procedures,” the CJI said.
Referring to a decision of a Constitution Bench, he said it was desirable to continue with the administrative tribunals despite the powers of the High Courts to scrutinise their decisions.
“For one, if their decisions were not questioned before the High Court, it would definitely contribute to the piling up of service disputes before the Supreme Court.”
Justice Balakrishnan said a significantly large number of orders of CAT Benches were being questioned before the High Courts, often on frivolous grounds “at the instance of advocates rather than litigants.”
Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said the CAT should not get entangled in technicalities while dealing with a case.
By acquitting a corrupt official on technical grounds, it would get him justice “but deny justice to others.”
The Minister said CAT rulings should not unnecessarily “glorify” officials.
Narrating an incident, he said a government official who caught taking bribe was acquitted on technical grounds. “He has since changed his name and is respected as an educationist today.”
Union Minister of State for Personnel Prithviraj Chavan said 150 organisations were added under the purview of the CAT. “More organisations and all the PSUs and the public sector banks could be brought in to decrease pressure on High Courts and Supreme Court,” he said.
Referring to the RTI Act, he said it would be amended for “proactive disclosures.” He, however, added that security related issues would remain out of the bounds of the Act.