President yet to appoint five members of the tribunal

: The functioning of the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) is getting delayed as the five members are yet to be appointed by the President.

The former High Court judge K. Balakrishnan Nair has already assumed charge as Chairman and Ramaraja Premanand as Registrar of the tribunal.

The five members whose appointments are awaited are Ashok M. Cherian, P.V. Asha, High Court lawyers; S. Pradeep Kumar Naidu, former Special Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh; Mathew C. Kunnumkal, former Director General, National Institute of Rural Development; and V.R. Rajeevan, former Director General of Police.

Notifiication

The establishment of the tribunal was notified by the Union government under the provisions of the Administrative Tribunal Act.

The Chairman was appointed with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of India.

The members were selected by a panel after inviting applications from qualified persons.

The selection committee consisted of the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court as Chairman, Chairman of the SAT as member, Chief Secretary and Chairman of the State Public Service Commission as other members.

Procedure

The committee was formed in accordance with the Administrative Tribunals (Procedure for appointment of Vice-Chairman and Members) Rules 2006.

The tribunal can be functional only after all members take charge.

The tribunal will have two principal Benches — in Thiruvananthapuram and a Bench in Kochi with filing facility.

The High Court had earlier directed that a Bench with filing facility be set up in Kochi.

The directive came on a writ petition filed by the Kerala High Court Advocates Association, even as the court rejected the challenge against establishing the headquarters of the tribunal in Thiruvananthapuram. The High Court had held that there was nothing wrong in headquartering the tribunal in Thiruvananthapuram as the decisions taken by the government secretaries in their capacities as appellate or revisional authorities were often challenged before the court.

Pending cases

When the tribunal starts functioning, pending service cases of around 10,000 in the High Court will be transferred to the tribunal.

Even when the pending cases were transferred to the tribunal, it would only be a temporary relief for the High Court because the same files would be back in the High court when orders of the tribunals are appealed against, point out legal experts.

Reduction

In other words, workload reduction in the High Court would only be at the level of single judge who initially decides the service cases.

Even the High Court had pointed out that the backlog of State government employees' service cases in the High Court did not constitute even 10 per cent of the total number of cases pending in the High Court .

(As per figures, as many as 1,23,836 cases are pending in the High Court as on January31, 2011).

The High Court had pointed out that the ruling of the Supreme Court that the orders of the tribunals could be subject to judicial review by the High Court had rendered “redundant and incapable of achieving” the objective of relieving the pressure of work in the High Court by the establishment of SAT.

Workload

The assumption made by the expert committee for setting up the tribunal and the State government that the tribunal would relieve the High Court of its workload was rather absurd because every orders of the tribunal could be challenged before the High Court in terms of the Supreme Court ruling in the Chandrakumar's case, the High Court had pointed out.


  • The members were selected by a panel

  • Chairman, registrar assume office