In the Indian judicial system, apart from the judicial bodies, such as the Supreme Court and the High Court, there are numerous quasi-judicial bodies who are involved in dispute resolutions.
These quasi-judicial bodies are the Tribunals and Regulators. Tribunals are established as per appropriate statutory provisions and are observed as an alternative medium to the conventional judicial bodies for the redressal of grievances and settling disputes.
A tribunal, in a plain language, is a. body of administrative character that has been powered with judicial powers to adjudicate one question of law or fact that affects rights of citizens. It has judicial or a quasi-judicial function and works in a judicial manner.
Provision for setting up administration tribunals at the union and state levels has been made in part- XIV-A of the constitution by 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. Art. 323-A authorizes Parliament to establish administrative tribunals to resolve disputes and complaints regarding the service commission of persons employed under the union/state governments. The Parliament provides for the jurisdiction, power and authority to such tribunals and prescribes the procedure to be followed by them.
Some of the important tribunals are:
– Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT),
– Industrial Tribunals set up under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
– Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal
– Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT),
– Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT),
– Railway Rates Tribunals set up under Indian Railways Act, 1890
– Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT).
– Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), etc-
– Income Tar Appellate Tribunal set up under Income Tax Act, 1961
– Court of Survey set up wider Merchant Shipping Act. 1958
– VAT Tribunal
– Revenue Tribunal
The kind of cases are administered by the tribunals are limited to their explicit domains. For example, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal can hear only matters related to Income Tax disputes and not matters of Customs or Excise department. Therefore, the area of operation of these tri burials are marked out at the beginning itself by the statute under which its constituted.
Central Administrative Tribunal
Parliament has passed the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 which authorizes the central government to establish administrative tribunals for central services and on the application of the states even for the state services.
Composition of tribunals: A tribunal shall consist of a chairman and such number of vice-chairman and another member as may be provided for. The President appoints them in case of central tribunals and the Governor in case of the state tribunals.
Each tribunal shall consist of a chairman and such number of Vice Charmin and judicial and administrative members as the appropriate Government may deem fit. The additional benches must consist of one judicial member and one administrative member.
The chairman may transfer the vice-chairman or other member from one Bench to another Bench. Every bench shall include at least one judicial member and one administrative member. The Chairman may constitute a single member bench for certain classes of cases. The chairman if required by the nature of case may require that the matter be heard by a Bench of two members, the benches of the central Tribunal shall ordinarily sit at New Delhi (which shall be known as the principle bench). Allahabad, Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and such other places as the central government may by notification, specify.
Qualification, Term and removal of members: A person shall not appointed as Chairman unless he (a) is or has been a Judge of a High Court or (b) has for two years held the office of Vice Chairman or has for two years held the post of a secretary to the government of India or holding other post carrying the scale of pay of secretary.
No person can be appointed as the Vice-Chairman unless he (a) is or has been a judge of high court (b) has for 2 years held the post of secretary to the Government or holding other post carrying the same scale under the central or state governments; (c) has for 5 years held the post of an additional secretary to the government of India or other post carrying the scales of pay of additional secretary. A person to be appointed as a judicial member must (a) be or have been a judge of the high court, or (b) have been a member of Indian legal service and has held a post in Grade I of the Service for at least 3 years.
A person to be appointed as an administrative member must (a) have held the post of an additional secretary to the Government of India or their equivalent post for at least 2 years or (b) have held the post of a joint Secretary to the government of India or other equivalent post, (c) have adequate administrative experience.
The Chairman, Vice Chairman and other members shall be appointed by the President. The judicial members shall appointed by the President with the consultation of the Chief Justice of India. The Chairman, Vice-Chairman and other members of the Tribunal for a state shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the Governor of the concerned state.
The Chairman, Vice-Chairman or other members shall hold office for a term of 5 years or until he attains (a) in the case of the chairman or Vice-Chairman the age of 65 years and (b) in the case of other members the age of 62 years.
The Chairman, Vice-Chairman or member may resign from his post by writing to the President. They shall be removed from their office only by an order made by the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after an enquiry made by a judge of the Supreme Court. They shall have the right to be informed of the charges against them and shall be given a reasonable opportunity of hearing. The central government may be rules regulate the procedure for the investigation of the charges against them.