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Jurisdiction Of Administrative Tribunals

Administrative Tribunals are quasi judicial authorities established with the duty to discharge adjudicatory functions. Dicey's Concept of Rule of Law is opposed to establishment of Administrative Tribunals. The Administrative Tribunal was established by the 42nd Amendment which recommended all the matters related to the services shall be subject to these tribunals but excluded the right to challenge under article 32 and article 226 of the constitution. It has its origin by the 323A and 323B of the constitution which empowers Central Government to set up by and act of parliament, Administrative Tribunals which will foresee all the matters relating to service matters.

The 42nd Amendment introduced article 323A and 323B to enable parliament to make law to constitute Administrative Tribunals to deal with certain disputes.

Article 323A governs everyone employed under union government, state government, local and other authorities and corporation controlled or owned by the government.

Article 323B states that not only Parliament but State legislature may also make laws.

Exceptions
Section 2 excludes the operation of the Act in respect of certain categories of persons specified therein. As such, no Tribunal can exercise any jurisdiction, powers and authority over these persons. The exceptions, thus, embodied in this section cover the three broad categories of Government servants discussed below.
  1. Members of Armed Forces of the Union

    Under Clause (a) of section 2 excludes the members of the naval, military and air forces, and of any other armed forces of the Union, from the operation of the Act and thereby debars the Tribunal from exercising any jurisdiction in respect of these persons.
     
  2. Members and Staff of the Judiciary

    Article 146 of the Constitution authorises the Chief Justice of India to make appointments of the officers and servants of Supreme Court and also to prescribe by rules their conditions of service. Likewise, under Article 229 the Chief Justice of a High Court is vested with the power to make appointments of officers and servants of the High Court and to make rules regulating their conditions of service.

    The executive has no control in respect of these matters except that such rules, in so far as they relate to salaries, allowances, leave or pension require the approval of the President (in the case of the staff of the Supreme Court) and of the Governor (in the case of the staff of the High Court).
     
  3. Members of the Secretarial Staff of the Legislatures

    Article 98 of the Constitution provides for a separate secretarial staff of the each House of Parliament. The Article empowers the Parliament to regulate the recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to the secretarial staff of either House of Parliament and until a law is made by the Parliament, the President may, after consultation with the Speaker of the House of People or the Chairman of the Council of States, as the case may be, make rules regulating the same.

    Likewise under Article 187, each House of the Legislature of a State shall have a separate secretarial staff. Until provision is made by the Legislature of the State in this behalf, the rules regulating the recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to the said secretarial staff may be made by the Governor after consultation with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council, as the case may be.

Exercising this power, the parliament enacted the Administrative Tribunals Act 1985, in which the section 28 excluded the jurisdiction of the High Courts over the Tribunals. This was challenged before the Supreme Court in: SP Sampath Kumar v/s UOI
In this case it was held that:-[1]
5-judge Bench and all of them held that the act is totally valid as judicial review is only shifted from one authority to another.

The tribunal is the real substitute of the High Court and should be entitled to the powers of the High Court. Which implies that the tribunals is de Jure and de Facto substitute
Should have jurisdiction to decide the validity of any statute, rule, regulation and notification as High Court.

If the tribunal falls short it would be denial of judicial review which is the basic structure. In fact the tribunal is as effective as the High Court in exercise of judicial review. In UOI v/s Deep Chand Pandey it was held that the High Court doesn't have the power to deal with the cases of services and has no longer jurisdiction over it when there is an administrative tribunal and the jurisdiction is with central In L Chandra Kumar v/s UOI  the clause 2(d) of article 323A, clause 3(d) of article 323B and the section 28 of the Administrative act were challenged. It was held that the provision which took away the power of judicial review were nullified. The purpose of the Administrative Tribunal was to supplement the existing court system and was never done to create another system of court and High Court and Supreme Court can never be curtailed by an legislative act.

The constitutional power suspended the legislative power as High Court and Supreme Court were given the power under article 226, 32 and 136. Although all the decisions of administrative tribunal can be scrutinised by the High Court but can only be done by a divisional bench.

[2]It was also held that tribunals can question the validity of rules but can't question the validity of act. Parent act is created by legislature and rules are created by executive hence Administrative Tribunal can't question the Parent Act. After this case Tribunal lost their status being equivalent to High Court but didn't lose jurisdiction on service matter.

Cases Affected By L Chandra Kumar

In UOI v/s SL Abbas the Supreme Court held that the jurisdiction of High Court is equivalent to that of Administrative Tribunal when it comes to any kind of service matter and the power of central tribunal will be equal to that of High Court under 226.

In JB Chopra v/s UOI, it was held that the administrative tribunal has jurisdiction, power an authority to decide even the constitutional validity of any statue, statutory regulation, rules or notification.

In Prabhat Ranjan Dev v/s UOI it was held that when it comes to service matter, the High Court lacks original jurisdiction but have appellate jurisdiction.

In Shreedharan Kalla v/s UOI the Supreme Court held that the jurisdiction of High Court is wider than Administrative Tribunal and the judicial matter of High Court is more than Administrative Tribunal and hence it will e applicable to Administrative Tribunal.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Shifa Khan

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