The increasing complexities in the role of the state due to socio-economic
changes in the society and the enactments of new laws have increased their work
to perform regulatory role. As a result many regulatory and quasi-judicial
bodies are set up. The result of this was the tribunals where the clear
demarcation of administrative and quasi-judicial role, the relationship of each
organ with the other organ with respect to tribunals especially executive and
judiciary has remained as cause of litigation for decades and it seems that the
issues is not well settled till now. This paper traces the origin of tribunals
and the issue that pertains. The main battle is between the executive adopting
modern governance on one side and on the other hand is the upholding of the
Initially, there was no constitutional back up for existence of tribunals in
India. It was the 42nd amendment which brought the major changes in the
constitution ranging from preamble, list 7 to DPSP and formed the base for the
existence of tribunals in India. While tracing the meaning of the word, it is
derived from the word 'tribune' which means 'magistrate of the classical
roman republic. The objective behind the tribunal was to protect the citizens
from arbitrary ruling of the magistrates.
There is no proper and definite
meaning of the tribunal is given apart from general definition like adjudicatory
body. To under the meaning of tribunal some of the eminent scholars of the field
can be referred ' 'A tribunal is an administrative body which performs the
function of quasi-judicial body and is neither court nor the administrative
body. The nature of tribunal lies somewhere between the court and the executive.
The Supreme Court has laid down test in certain judgements as tribunals is
nowhere statutorily defined. In the case of associated cement Companies Ltd. vs
P.N Sharma the Supreme Court has held that it is an adjudicating body which
resole controversies and exercise quasi-judicial function as the functions are
not purely administrative.
The test laid down are
- Tribunals have resemblance with court but not all
- Tribunals are constituted by the state and has statutory base for their
existence. Like the competition commission is formed under the competition
- Tribunal has parallel judicial powers as the state powers.
With time there has been several situations arising with which the need of the
tribunal is felt.'Following are the reasons for existence of tribunal
Misperception between the Courts and Tribunals
- In India more than 3 crores pending cases are there and regular court
would take years to dispose all of them taking into consideration daily filing
of cases. Thus tribunals take over the burden of the regular courts.
- Tribunals are also the source for the expedite decision i.e. they
fulfill the right of speedy trial under article 21 recognized by the apex
court in the case of hussainara Khatoon vs Home Secretary, state of
Bihar. Tribunals are relaxed with the procedures to follow and thus they
reach to conclusion relatively faster.
- Tribunals are important because they are specialized in the justice
mechanism in particular things. A tribunal is brought for a specific purpose
and thus the bench are the experts in the matter heard by the tribunal. For
instance Competition commission of India hear the matters on the competition law and
the bench are the experts of the competition law.
If the tribunal performs adjudicatory function and prima facie appears to be
similar to the court of law. Then there may be mix-up between what constitute a
tribunal and what a court is. It is necessary to demarcate a line between this
The misunderstanding pops up when one says that both are the creature of
the state, invested with judicial power and perform adjudicatory function. The
distinction may be very tinny but exist.
It is to be understood that traditional form of courts make the important
difference with the tribunals:
- The court come into existence with the spirit of the formation of the
state whereas tribunals are the result of statute.
- The court have more wider and general jurisdiction whereas tribunals
have specific and limited jurisdiction.
- The judge of a court does not bother of executive as its tenure, salary
cannot be affected but all those are in their hands in the case of
- The judges are trained in law but the chairperson of tribunals may not
have the knowledge of the law.
- Court cannot fight as an individual party they need lis inter parties
whereas tribunal or the authority may be one of the contending parties.
- The court is bound by the procedural, evidence law to answer the case
but the tribunals are made more flexible in this scenario. Also the courts
are bound by the precedent but not the tribunals.
- The court have wide ranging powers and can even interfere with deciding
the validity of any statute but tribunal cannot.
It can be said that all the courts are tribunals but the vice-versa is not true.
The tribunals as limited can be said as subset of the traditional court of law
or the judiciary.
What is Quasi-Judicial Body?
The term quasi means 'not exactly'. Thus the general meaning of the term
quasi-judicial body is that the body has the attributes of the judicial element
but not all of them. Even statutory bodies are not the quasi-judicial bodies
because they are the bodies recognized by statutes which may or may not have
judicial function. In the case of Province of Bombay vs Khushaldas S.
 the court has held that if the word quasi is prefixed to any parent
term that means the thing which is explained by that term has some attributes of
the parent term but not the all. For e.g. quasi-judicial body is something which
have the attributes of judiciary in it but not all of it.
When it is said that a
tribunal is a quasi-judicial body, it is explained by the court in the case
of Indian National congress (I) v Institute of social welfare and Ors.
was held that 'when the body or person has the legal authority to determine
the question affecting right of subjects and duty to act judicially.
It is also
quasi- judicial when the body is empowered to decide the dispute with not only
two parties but also one party against their authority like taking cognizance of
some matters on their own by the competition commission apply discretion and to
the judicial function when they follow the necessary procedure mandated to reach
of India. They are distinct from the administrative bodies by the fact that they
are bound by some element of judiciary like following of procedure. Thus, a
quasi- judicial bodies stand between the two i.e. the administrative function
and the judicial. They are in close proximity with the administrative function
when they the conclusion.
Reasons for Growth of Tribunals
The existence of Tribunal with the understanding was made clear but it is also
necessary to understand the reason behind the growth of the Tribunal culture in
India which has made tribunals for wide ranging of matters like the Tax
Tribunal, Industrial Tribunal, Green Tribunal, film certification, custom and
excise and so on. It is not that the tribunals came into existence in the
20th century but there were tribunals in the past when the commissioner of
custom and excise had the judicial power 3 centuries ago and tax tribunal also
existed. The tribunals gained prominence after the world wars when they were
brought in existence from the legislations. Anything which gain relevancy or
prominence in the day to day life is because of the need of the present time
that it fulfills and has the potential to stay in the future as it is. The thing
which fits the best in the present day survives and grow. The reason behind the
constant growth of the tribunals is its characteristics of functioning.
- The activities that government undertake are very wide ranging and
becoming complex in the modern days with new laws and situation which have
overburdened the courts to deal with the matters effectively and the
tribunal provides for the best supplement.
- The traditional court system has proved to be less wanted because of the
expenses, procedure and the time consumed in reaching the conclusion but the
tribunals have the demand and the potential to dispose of the matters
- Court deal with the matters came before them by the law, procedures and
the evidence whereas the complex society needs some out of the box
settlement through dynamic thinking which tribunals has.
- Tribunals don't require the bench as graduate of law they are equipped
with the experts of the field which the tribunal deal with.
- They also take preventive measures unlike court which works after the
parties approach them. Like the competition commission takes cognizance of
any of the matter like the abuse of dominant position or the predatory
- They are the experts in the field and work rapidly with technicalities
and expertise in the field. For e.g. the Industrial tribunals needs order on
lock out urgently or a film needs approval all this needs to be decided
within a reasonable time span. Thus tribunals with all these features and
compromising the procedural laws and all other methods which are not
necessary works smoothly.
The above-mentioned characteristics are the reason behind the growth of the
tribunals as they make the work convenient for every party having stake over the
matters. Apart from these reasons the tribunals started to get recognition
from the other organs. The fundamental rights which is the most important part
of our constitution has been given wide interpretation by the supreme court to
include right to speedy trial through the case of Hussainara khatoon vs Home
Secretary state of Bihar
 and also Delhi domestic working women's forum vs
Union Of India and Ors
. Both these judgement does not directly recognized
the importance of tribunals but indirectly made the tribunals important as it
emphasized on Speedy trial as fundamental right.
Legal Backup for the existence of Tribunals
The supreme law of the land is made for the public welfare and in this regard
various directive principles were laid down, under article 38 it is the duty of
the state to promote public welfare. Under article 39A, it is the duty of the
state to promote equal opportunities of justice through various schemes which
can include tribunals for speedy justice. It is a well- known maxim that justice
delayed is justice denied and if the opportunities are not provided then
there will be no use of equal protection of laws under article 14.
things became the legal base for the 42nd amendment which brought into existence
Part 14A containing tribunals. Articles 323A and 323B came into existence in
which 323A talks about tribunals for answering of service and appointment
related matter can be formed through the law of parliament and every aspect of
its functioning like the jurisdiction, procedure etc. can be provided in the law
so enacted. Additionally in article 323 B provided for the subjects for
which a tribunal can be brought like the taxation, foreign exchange, customs,
industrial and labour disputes, land reforms, election matter, rent and property
In India, Tribunals have been formed for almost all the matter
listed and incidental to the provided list. The power of the parliament under
schedule 7 list III i.e. the concurrent list read with article 246 to legislate
to reorganize the structure of the court system except the high court and the
Supreme Court and under article 247 to have some additional courts by law. 
Constitutionality of Tribunals ' whether it infringe the basic structure?
India has adopted liberal democratic principles moderated by historical
experiences and equitable development of all. India has British system of
democracy with Independence Judiciary.
The Indian constitution makers were
visionary and was aware of the events that may harm judiciary. To protect this
sacred document it was important to have a strong judiciary. The judiciary with
that platform has also reshaped many principles and protected the interference
of opportunistic politicians. In this regard they have made the principle of
basic structure in the constitution and have included certain concepts as
essential part of it such as rule of law, democracy, independent judiciary,
judicial review etc. Eminent scholars like Montesquieu have talked about
importance of separation of powers as it protects the authoritarian regime.
question has been raised time and again that the tribunal system infringe the
traditional court system. That the tribunals affect the autonomy and
independence of the courts as expressly held as part of basic structure by the
court in the case of Supreme Court advocate on record association vs Union of
India. Tribunal being quasi-judicial body is also questioned as infringing
the separation of power which though not rigid but strictly adhered when the
question involves the judiciary in it. The constitution of India is so
complicated Then whether the tribunals has crossed their limits?
India has the
hierarchy of the court system which includes the subordinate courts, High courts
and the Supreme Court. Where the high court and Supreme Court are the appellate
courts and also have the writ jurisdiction. The idea of tribunals were
challenged in the case of State Of Karnataka vs Vishwabarathi housing Building
 where the existence of consumer forums at various stage was
The party contended that the jurisdiction of even civil court cannot
be interfered with. The Supreme Court has referred to article 246(2),
article 247 read with item 11A and 46 of the concurrent list of the 7th schedule
and held the parliament competent under this to provide additional courts and
tribunals. The existence of tribunal is allowed because they the list provide
the exception of the Supreme Court and thus the power of judicial review is not
infringed. As far as judicial review of the court is not interfered with the
existence of tribunals as a body is well within the limits of the constitution.
In the matter of judicial review case of Sampat Kumar vs Union of India
its importance where the 5 judge bench answered the question of validity of
administrative tribunals challenged on the ground of ousting the power of
judicial review of the courts. Justice Rangnath Mishra speaking for the majority
held that the matter of the judicial review is left unaffected and still the
forum for any rectification is available. If the administrative tribunal has
barred high court it still does not take away the judicial review completely as
long as approach to Supreme Court is available under article 32 and article 136.
In this case the Supreme Court held the tribunals as the substitute of the high
Also justice bhagwati concurred with the majority and held that if an
alternative institutional mechanism is set up which is as effacious as the high
court then it cannot be held that it takes away the power of judicial review. In
the absence of same any curbing of power of the high court is unconstitutional
as affecting the basic structure of the constitution.
As the validity of the CAT has been upheld, it was also considered by the
constitution bench which afterwards came to draw their attention that the high
court had been institution of importance and holds faith of people from
centuries within their jurisdictions even when the federal court was not in
existence. It was then noted that their performance was also unsatisfactory
apart from exception. It was observed from series of matters reported that the
tribunals lacked competency as they were lacking to follow the procedural norms.
They ignored the apex court's precedents and did not adhere to the basic
norms. It was the reason that the people who believed in high court with closed
eyes could not gain a bit of that confidence on the tribunals. Similarly, as
observed the report of the arrear committee also concurred and reported same. It
was becoming harsh for the Supreme Court to handle the cases and thus the court
was anguish on all these situations raised.It was observed by the Supreme
Court that the tribunals were not able to act as the 'alternative
institutional mechanism' effectively as given to them in the Sampath Kumar case
In the landmark case of the L. Chandrakumar Vs Union of India
, the questions
of the tribunals affecting the basic structure of the constitution was again
raised. In this case the Supreme Court decided to reconsider its ruling of the sampath kumar and referred the case to a larger bench of 7 judges. It is of no
ambiguity that judicial review is the essential and basic feature of the
constitution. The power of the high court under article 226 and 227 are the
basic features of the constitution. Thus the parliament by law cannot take away
the right to approach a high court that is not within their purview and scope of
As laid down in the case of sampat kumar that the tribunals are the
alternate institution of the high courts which meant that the tribunals are
there as a substitute of the high court appears to be bad in law. As the
efficiency and the norms of the hierarchy of the judiciary in India like of the
binding nature of the cases would have been affected and thus the court in the
Chandra Kumar case said that the tribunals are the supplement of the high court
rather than substitute. The decision was taken as a reformist step for the
structure of the judiciary as the constitution of tribunals which would have
impacted the image of judiciary and the working of tribunals which was not
After the chandrakumar judgement, as the time passed and the issue with regard
to the judgement came up. There was recommendations to revisit the judgement,
even before the judgement the Supreme Court has asked for the suggestions of the
The issue is that if the matter is referred to the high court
ultimately then the objective of setting up tribunal is not fulfilled. How the
burden with the high court will reduce and how the judges will become technical
experts in the matters. The commission has suggested that the division bench of
the high court should hear the appeal from the decisions of tribunals or there
can be national administrative appellate tribunals which will be headed by the
judiciary like the chief justice of India or its nominee.
The retired justice of
the high court and supreme court after consultation can be brought in the
service because it is clear that the power of the supreme court under article
136 is misused and also proving to be time consuming and expensive for the
people as well as flood of cases in the supreme court of country which is the
body to answer important questions of law. To reduce the burden of the court it
is necessary to approach the court in such cases where the appellate tribunal is
not present. The appeal can however lie with the division bench of the high
court. To keep up with the objective of the appellate tribunals appeal can lie
in the Supreme Court in the matter of public or national importance.
If we see the separation of powers in the tribunal which is also an issue in the
ordinance in question. This concept is also an integral feature of the
constitution of India as article 50 which says it is the duty enshrined upon the
state to always maintain separation between the executive and the Judiciary.
Thus any law which affects the separation of organs and if any organs breaches
its limit and try to enter the domain of the other that power is
unconstitutional and cannot sustain in India.
For recognition of separation of
powers in the Indian constitution the judicial precedents are the case of Ram jawaya Kapur vs Union Of India
 in which the court has held that though the
Indian constitution do not as such says about the separation of powers but it
can be deduce from the articles which defines the function of each organ
Though not rigid it is the concept which is exercised in India
flexibly. Also, in the case of Indira Gandhi vs Raj Narain
 it was held by
the court that the Indian constitution is flexible in nature and the rigid sense
of separation of power like the Australian and the American constitution is not
applicable in India. It was also held that it is a part of the basic structure
which cannot be affected even by the powers under article 368. Though not rigid
but the powers is defined separately and it is the task of them to work in their
scope provided under the constitution.
In the case of Brahmo Dutt vs Union of India
 when in the competition act
there was mixing up of the regulatory bodies and adjudicatory function of the
tribunal in which the separation of power or the judicial independence is
sacrificed. There was also no provision for the appellate body in the act. This
was held to be violative and infringing of powers.
The government however
accepted the ruling and undertook certain amendments and provided for the
appellate tribunal. In the case of union of India vs R. Gandhi
 the madras
high court has pointed some lacunae and asked for separation of judicial
function from the executive and legislative in the companies act to which the
government has reacted and modified.
In case of tribunals it can be noted that the member of the bureaucracy is the
member or the chairperson of the tribunal which though infringed the separation
of power but was allowed to be intact by the courts as the tribunal are not the
judicial body but the quasi-judicial body so the strict adherence with the
principle was relaxed. However as a medium of check the appellate body is ruled
by the judiciary to protect the aggrieved from any arbitrary action.
arrangement that is present today where the appellate tribunals exist can be
traced as the arrangement on the base of the sampath kumar judgement however it
has the representation of judiciary in it. The court has recommended in
the R.Gandhi case that the system should be made for the appointment in the
tribunal in which the judiciary must have the dominant say because the tribunal
perform the adjudicatory function.
The reason is that the tribunal should have
the confidence of the people. It is compulsory to have at least a judicial
member in the tribunals. The ordinance which will be discussed below is of the
concern for the judiciary because as suspected the executive are allegedly
trying to gain their influence in the matter of tribunals.
The power of judicial review is completely protected under the tribunals system
in India. Although affected separation of power, as a flexible constitution it
is the need of the time in dynamic society to adopt such changes at the same
time having some measures to keep a check. With regards to this constitutional
principles and norms incidental to it, we are going to analyze the recent
ordinance and the situation that arose in the backdrop of the matter of
Tracing the whole Tribunal Story
Changes that the finance act 2017 intended to brought into the Tribunals
Apart from the other changes that were made in the finance act 2017 it has made
some significant changes in the structuring of the tribunals. The list of the
mergers and the restructuring of the tribunals that took place are as follows:
- The competition appellate tribunal will be merged with the national
company law appellate tribunal
- The airport economic regulatory appellate tribunals and the cyber
appellate tribunal will be merged with the telecom dispute settlement and
- The national highway tribunal merging with the airport appellate
- The employees provident fund tribunal merging with the industrial
- The copyright board merging with the intellectual property appellate
- The railway rates tribunal with railway claim tribunal.
- Foreign exchange tribunal will be merged with the appellate tribunal
constituted under the foreign exchange manipulation legislation.
The restructuring so done does not seem to be so much problematic because by the
list of the mergers it is found that the tribunals merged also has some
functioning similarity with the bodies they are merged. However, all the mergers
cannot be easily acceptable because some of the mergers are capable of raising
eyebrows for e.g. airport economic regulatory appellate board merged with cyber
and telecom tribunals, this is not easily adaptable.
The issue with regard to the structure of the tribunals has started in the
recent time from the finance act 2017. A finance act is an act annually brought
by the government and passed in the parliament which is a fiscal legislation to
bring in to force the proposals of the central government. The main provisions
of the act are basically related to the income tax, custom and excise, GST, cess
and other reliefs. It has brought many changes in the structure of the
The changes brought raises doubt on the competency of the tribunals
which are well competent to hear the matters before them except that the appeal
goes back to the judicial system and the appointments that are made in this
tribunals which are in the hands of the executive which is prima facie a threat
for their working. Overall, they were not fully competent but were compromised
with their way of working.
Then, in the year 2017 government as every year came
up with a finance bill 2017 which surprisingly talks about the changes made in
the tribunals. It was also declared as money bill by the speaker of the loksabha
which is a debatable issue and allegedly done to remove the difficulties moved
by the rajyasabha in passing the amendment where the government did not have the
majority and also rejected the changes proposed by the rajysabha. It is also
important to understand the provisions of the money bill under article 110 to
further present points on this topic.
What is a money bill?
Money bill is envisaged under article 110 in the Indian constitution and is
different from the financial bill under article 117 which deals about revenue
and expenditure whereas money bill deals with the financial matters prescribed
under article 110. The importance of it can be ascertained from the fact that
many important matters like the aadhar bill, insolvency and bankruptcy bill were
introduced as money bill.
The constitution prescribed certain conditions by
which a bill can be termed as the money bill. It is also necessary that certain
conditions like necessarily introducing it in the house of loksabha and
requirement of speaker certification in the bill for terming it as money
The conditions under which a bill can be termed as money bill:
- Imposition, alteration, abolition, remission and regulation of any tax
- Regulation of borrowing of money by the central government.
- Matter dealing with the consolidated fund of India or the contingency
fund of India, the payment of money into or withdrawal of such fund.
- Appropriation of money from consolidated fund.
- Declaration of any expenditure on the fund or increasing of the
expenditure from the fund.
- The receipt of the money on consolidated fund of India or the public
account of India.
- Any matter which is incidental to the above matter.'�
The main factor of the finance act which makes it an issue that the central
government through legislation and that too by introducing money bill tried to
control the power of the qualifications and appointment, salary and allowances,
term of office, resignation, removal. Thus the government through the finance
act tried to control the service conditions of the tribunal.
The constitution has the provision clearly specifying that there can be no
changes in the salary and allowance of the judge detrimental to him and thus the
government has no such direct control to interfere with their autonomy. The
tribunal which is also an adjudicatory body on which the control was intended to
be claimed by the government can be detrimental to the independence of the
judiciary. Tribunals are the part and parcel of the judicial system in India,
they are just the expertise courts dealing with the specific matter.
is also with the bill where it was notified by the speaker as the money bill.
The matter does not pertains to any of the provision as provided in the
constitution. It does not relate to the financial matters of the country or if
it is as contended by the respondent then every matter should be presented as
the money bill because every legislation in some way effect the fund of the
The judicial scrutiny of the finance act 2017 and the rules made under it was
done in the case of Rojer Mathew vs south Indian Bank Ltd.
The issues raised
in the case are:
- Whether there can be judicial review of the power of the speaker to
certify a bill as money bill?
- Whether the S.184 or Part 14 of the finance act 2017 and the rules
framed under it are constitutional?
The act intended to bring changes in more than twenty enactments changing the
structure of the tribunals. In an additional argument it is argued that
amendment could not be brought through the finance act as it has been certified
as money bill whereas part XIV does not satisfy the criteria to be certified as
money bill because the conditions under article 110 are not satisfied. The rest
of the act of the finance act 2017 can be treated as money bill because it has
direct relation with the funds.
It has been also seen that the government takes
this arbitrary way to skip the scrutiny of the bill or when they lack majority
in the upper house. The question was taken before the Supreme Court in the aadhar judgement also where it was seen that the court has given mixed and
confusing interpretation while dealing with the issue like they have gone to
impliedly discuss the review of the act and later held that there is no question
In the aadhar judgement they have not issued any proper guidelines
for certification as money bill and also the court created ambiguity when it
struck down one of the section of the act as violative of article 110 and held
rest of the bill as money bill. In the rojer Mathew case the then chief justice
ranjan gogoi who also wrote the judgement in my view correctly observed the
lacunae that has been there in the aadhar judgementwith respect to the money
The chief justice has noted that upon examination it has been found that
the puttuswamy judgement have gone into the nature of the enactment without
first clearly demarcating the scope of article 110. There is no as such
directions from the court about the interpretation or any restriction from going
That judgement does not provided sufficient material for the word
'only' in article 110 and also the role or the steps which the court can
take when any enactment is not found with the conformity of the article 110(a)
to (g). It was held conclusively that the court interpretation was liberal
and that can affect the bicameral structure of our constitution. Thus the
conflicting judgement of the co-ordinate benches of the court can raise
Thus, justice gogoi referred the case to a larger bench and it also
makes the point of judicial review of the finality of the speaker decision clear
that it is subject to judicial review. The court has held that there is no bar
on examining the decision of the speaker on merits when the issue has been
raised on the point of illegality and unconstitutionality of the said decision.
However the court has clarified that there will be always be pre-assumption of
the correctness of the speaker decision and it is the burden of the petitioner
to proof the illegality. The said statement provided by the court is correct
because the speaker of the loksabha is the body of high sanctity of its own
according to the powers and position provided by the constitution of India.
In this case it is also important to note the opinion of the Justice Chandrachud
who has also dissented in the aadhar judgement. Justice Chandrachud had adopted
new set of interpretations. This case is just the continuation of the journey of
the opinon of justice chandrachud who has noted the history of the bills and
then it comes to the main issue on the money bill that it decrease the
importance of the rajyasabha as given to it in the ordinary legislation.
the money bill is an exception, it is necessary to use the provisions
efficiently. Justice has focused on the structure of bicameralism. Rajyasabha
presents the interest of the states as well as check upon the functioning of the
loksabha and prevents majoritarianism to set its base in the Indian context.
Rajysabha present a balance of power and is an important constitutional body in
the federal polity of Indian republic.
Thus it is necessary that if the money
bill way is adopted by the lower house to prevent the conflict with the rajyasabha then the judiciary should step up and any such decision cannot escape
the judicial review. After the remark going on the provision of the money bill,
he has noted that anything incidental to the fiscal provisons can be added to
the definition of the money bill and the restructuring and the changes that have
been brought by the finance act 2017 in the tribunals of the country does not
seems to be permissible under the money bill.
In the dissenting opinion, justice chandrachud sets aside part XIV of the
finance act 2017 and the rest of the act sustains on the ground of severability.
However, the dissenting opinion of the judge seems to be the ratio in the
future. As the majority on doubt has referred it to the larger bench but
impliedly they were of the view to set it aside.
The argument given by the respondent through the attorney general that the
amendments to the tribunal can come under the money bill criteria as the
expenditure made by the tribunals are levied on the consolidated fund of India
which seems to be very vague and not satisfactory.
The bill seems to be malafidely certified as money bill for satisfying some
other needs of the government enjoying through the vacuum in the law.
Additionally, after the courts remark before referring the particular question
to a larger bench it is impliedly clear from the bench expression that the
present money bill will be prospectively declared unconstitutional and also the
aadhar judgement would be overruled.
Validity of S.184 and the rules of 2017
This section empowers the central government to make rules for the tribunal on:
- Term of office
- Salary and allowance
- Removal and also other terms and conditions regarding the chairperson,
vice-chairperson and the post incidental to it in the tribunal and the
The power given to the government through the act to make rules in the on
matters as mentioned above is excessive delegation according to the petitioner
because the matters related to the tribunal which is a part of the judicial
bodies of the country is an important policy issue because the public faith and
trust is attached with the bodies like tribunal which can have detrimental
effect if the executive start to control it.
The government or the concerned ministries is the party to the litigation very
often and if they start to control the selection process of the members of the
tribunal then the autonomy of the tribunal cannot be imagined.
The court has upheld the validity of S.184 and has taken the view that the
powers allotted to the central government can be delegated but the government
should be careful while exercising the powers to keep in mind the law laid down
in the parent enactments as well as the settled precedents of the R.gandhi,
L.chandrakumar case and madras bar association case. 
It is clear that the judgement of the rojer Mathew and para 143 specifically is
the guideline for the executives that any rule formed under S.184 should be in
consonance with the judgement delivered by the apex court in cases mentioned
above. The court has not declared that the power cannot be delegated but
demanded for the strict adherence.
The one factor that the court must have taken note of in the judgement that here
the matter related too many of the appellate tribunal which are working as
supplement for the high court so they must be given protection of that kind and
should be free from any kind of interference from the executives.
We have seen
that the working of the executive is influenced by political vendetta in many of
the instances and they have continuously acted in the violation of the orders of
the Supreme Court which also raises doubt in their functioning. They think that
they are not bound by the judgement of the Supreme Court.
The sanctity of the
judiciary should be protected by not giving them the power to make choices in
the affairs of the judiciary. The reasons behind repeated approach made to the
Supreme Court is clear that the executive cannot be relied upon to function in
the interest of the public welfare and the protection of the institutions. Thus,
S.184 was held valid directing the government to frame rules according to the
Central government exercising its power under S.184 framed the tribunal,
appellate tribunal and other authority's rule 2017 which provided for the
condition of service in the tribunal. In the challenge before the Supreme Court
in rojer Mathew case the court has struck down the entire rules in its entirety.
It was observed that the powers conferred on the government is arbitrary and violative of the basic structure of the constitution. The conditions of service,
tenure, allowance, appointment and removal so provided infringe the basic
structure of the constitution and did not follow the Supreme Court directions in
In this regard the court has referred to various supreme court judgements like
the madras bar association case (2010) where the court has held that the
legislature can do what are they constituted for but that is subject to
It has to take care of the basic structure principles
such as the independence of the judiciary, rule of law and the separation of
powers. The case was filed for the enforcement of the judgements of
the L.chandrakumar and the R.gandhi which basically provided for the judicial
dominance and role in the tribunal to make the tribunal as faithful as the
judiciary. If the tribunals are the supplement and provided with the functions
of the court or treated as court then the tribunals should have the
characteristics of the courts like the independence and security given to the
In the case of R. Gandhi vs Union of India where the amendment in the company
law providing for the NCLT and NCLAT was challenged. In this case the supreme
court has laid down certain guidelines which are important like the tribunal
must be an independent forum to approach, the power of the parliament is not
absolute and they are subject to limitations of the basic
structure, qualifications and eligibility criteria of the judicial bodies
should be with the superior courts if this is not done the objective of the
system of tribunal would be defeated and the trust and allegiance of the
judiciary will be vanished, if the bureaucrats of the ministries are made as the
member of the tribunal that too on lien basis then it will be against the basic
structure principles, judicial member should be appointed in the body which is
acting as supplement to the high courts, the appointment of the technical
members in the tribunal should be reduced only when it is very much necessary,
there should be security of tenure, if the appointment of the civil servant is
retained he did not necessarily have the required experience in the law and also
the public can have doubt on impartiality and independence.
If the appointment
of the technical members of the civil services is started then the dearest ones
of the government would be promoted to tribunals and will work on the directions
of the government. Although some of the reasons are raised as doubt, the other
are the factual situations which were laid down in the R. Gandhi case barring
the jurisdiction of the executives.
It can be said that the decision in the L. chandrakumar has a similar tone with
the R.Gandhi judgement to the extent it talks about saving the independence of
the judiciary, rule of law, separation of powers and the scope of judicial
review which are the basic structures of the constitution put at stake by the
executive in the rojer Mathew case.
These judgements are the important reason which were overlooked by the executive
while framing the rules for declaring the tribunal rules 2017 as
unconstitutional and were struck down entirely.
The court has directed the government to come up with a new policy taking
into consideration following points:
- The court has emphasized for the judicial dominance in the search cum
selection committee because the executive are the litigating party in most
of the cases so there can be interest of the executive involved while
selecting the candidate.
- The court has directed that the parliament cannot give essential
judicial function to the technical members who are not adequately qualified.
- There cannot be appointment of the chairperson on the basis of the
discretion of the central government to whom they find them as useful and
the person having requisite knowledge, ability and integrity. Thus there
cannot be any vague appointment in the tribunals.
- The removal of the members of the tribunals should not be left in the
hand of the executive but it should be like the manner specified in the
constitution or the constitutional court judges.
- The tenure of the members of the tribunals should be considerable time
because it increases executive interference and there can be biasness in the
independence of the judiciary and many candidates not willing to join the
post because of the short term that would make everyone uncomfortable and
unstable with their affairs.
Thus the court directed to frame a new set of rules which adhere to the
precedents of the above mentioned cases and also the guidelines issued in this
case by the Supreme Court. The court has also directed for the judicial impact
assessment of the tribunals as big restructuring has been done in the tribunals
which was ordered in the Salem advocates bar association Vs Union of
India for the very first time.
The court has held in that case it is
necessary to make it as an essential component of the financial memorandum of
the legislative proposals.
The court is correct in raising doubt in the certification of money bill and
referring to larger bench and also correctly held that the power so delegated
has to be in limit and should be exercise in consonance with the constitution of
India or the parent act.
Thereby, holding the 2017 rules as substantially ultra vires the constitution. The rules have clearly sidelined the judiciary in its
own domain of work and the judiciary has correctly stopped them from the
infringing the domain of any organ and continuously acting in the defiance of
the Supreme Court directions. If this would not have been curbed the
objective of the tribunalisation in the country would have been defeated and
this style of working of the executive is the reason behind the flood of writ
petition in the court. Whenever there will be questions raised on tribunals
the judgements referred above will be taken as base to decide the law of the
2020 Rules and the consequential Developments
The central government has come up with a new set of rules in the year 2020
known as the Tribunal, appellate tribunal and other authorities (qualification,
experience and other condition of services of members) rules, 2020. The rules
was notified in official gazette in the month of February 2020 which was brought
as a substitute of the 2017 rules.
Interestingly, the courts are the savior of the constitution cannot step back
from their duty but the government is also acting in defiance of the Supreme
Court judgement and necessary direction. The 2020 rules which were framed was
again challenged by the petitioner madras bar association who has repeatedly
stepped up for the protection of the tribunals. They allege that the new rules
are against the law laid down by the Supreme Court for the tribunals.
The issues with the new rules are as follows:
- The interference or the control of the concerned ministries in the
tribunal is not done away with where the related ministry is the party in
the litigation very often and they control the financial power,
infrastructure and many control under it. Which may have an effect in the
independent functioning. It is against the natural justice when the bodies
are not allowed to function fairly.
- It says that the committee can function in absence of any member and
that also includes the judicial independence. There can be chance that the
executive are only the part of the selection committee. They can remove the
judicial member by playing tricks. Thus they are trying to compromise with
the judicial dominance in some or the other way.
- The secretary of the ministry against whom the order is passed by the
tribunal are the part of the member of the selection committee for selecting
the member for adjudication which was again brought as clear defiance of the judgement of the supreme court in the madras bar association case.
- They have provided for the retirement age for the member of tribunal as
65 years which means any retired high court judge can continue for just 3
years as against the order of the court to make it as 70 years or the
service must be continuous for minimum 5 to 7 years as directed in the R.
Gandhi case. There is no bar on getting a government service after the
post of chair-person or the member of tribunal which is a threat for
judicial independence because there are chances that 'post-retirement jobs
can influence pre-retirement judgement.'�
- The chairpersons should be the judicial officer like the judges or the
advocates, senior bureaucrats can only be there as technical members having
experience but the rules provide for any one as the chair-person or
vice-chairperson of the tribunal. The chief justice of India has not been
given voting power.
It was contended that due to all these reasons the rules are against the
principles of the separation of power and the independence of the judiciary.
They have also violated the previous Supreme Court judgements.
Supreme Court held that it is disappointing to note that the Centre is
repeatedly overlooking the Supreme Court orders. Though the Supreme Court held
that the rules are not completely unconstitutional but noted that they require
major modifications. The court has discussed each of the point in the judgement
and had noted important things like the rules cannot have the retrospective
After the detailed discussion the court has given list of suggestions which
are as follows:
- Set up National Tribunal Commission:
The first and important direction which the court issued was regarding the
setup of the national tribunal commission which is a central level body for
the administration of the affairs of the tribunal. All the issues of the
tribunal should be completely independent which are vested with the same
power as the high courts shall have the confidence of the public. In the
case of Bidi supply Co. vs Union Of
India where justice Bose held that:
The heart and core of the democracy lies in the judicial process which means
independent and fearless judges free from any executive control brought up
in judicial tradition and trained in judicial working and thinking.
The report of the Franks committee which is accepted by the government of India
says that the tribunal should have openness, fairness and impartiality. The
tribunal must be regarded as the machinery provided by the parliament for
adjudication instead of administration.
In the absence of the independence there is a threat on the efficiency of the
tribunal. So, the court has directed to set up National Tribunal
Commission. This will bring independence and faith on the tribunals. The
tribunal must not lean on the parent departments for fulfilling their
administrative demand like the infrastructure and expenses. Thus, national
tribunal commission can be set up.
- Change in the Search Cum selection committee:
The objection was the
presence of secretaries of the department in the committee against the previous judgements. This committee lacks judicial dominance which effects the separation
of powers and it is encroachment on the judicial domain. The court has directed
that the committee should have the chief justice of India or his nominee with
casting vote as chairperson and the outgoing chairperson if he is judicial
member and two secretary to the government that means not from the parents
If the outgoing chairperson is not judicial member then along with
chief justice one retired judge of the high court or the Supreme Court. The
secretary of the parent ministry will be convener without the power to vote.
Also, there should be only one name as final for the appointment and no choice
in this regard can be given to executives. So far as the question of the
investigation of the candidate is concerned one other candidate who is selected
can be put in the waitlist if the primary does not get approval from the
investigation agency then the waitlisted candidate can be appointed.
- Term of Office:
The 2020 rules have provided contrary to the Supreme Court judgements which provide for minimum of 5 to 7 years of appointment in the
office of the tribunal. The retired judges at the age of 62 years can get
maximum 3 years of appointment as member and 4 year if appointed chairperson. If
the terms are kept short then till the candidate gets the knowledge of the work,
acquire efficiency the term will be over.
If the secured term of considerable
time is not provided then good candidates can abstain from accepting the
tribunal. The reappointment clause is not certain one must can get it or he may
not get it according to the will of the government that is a clear interference
in the independence. In my view by the reappointment clause the government is
trying to play tricks. So, the court directed for a minimum of 5 year term and
the upper limit as 70 years in the case of chairpersons and 67 years in the case
- Appointment of advocates:
It was found that the rules were not in
consonance with the parent act which does not provide for the exclusion of the
advocates but the rule put a bar as candidates with less than 25 years of
experience are ineligible for appointment. However the government was ready to
amend it. There is no rationale behind putting restriction as the age of 50
years for the appointment. The court directed that the appointment should be
made in line with the requirement for a high court judge.
Apart from all these the court has directed the central government to modify the
rules in various areas like for appointment of the member of Indian legal
service as the judicial member of the tribunals subject to the condition
fulfillment as required in the case of advocates and the requirement of the
search cum selection committee, the adequate facilities for housing should be
provided to the member and chairperson and if it is not accessible then the
allowance should be 1,25000 and 1,50,000 respectively.
Also in case of the
disciplinary action, the court impliedly mean to say that nothing can be left on
discretion of the executive because that can be detrimental to the judiciary and
constitutional principles would not be followed so the court also directed that
the findings of the search cum selection committee with regard to the
disciplinary action will be final and that will be implemented by the
government. To safeguard the interest, it was directed by the court that any
appointment should be notified within 3 months by the government. The court has
also rejected any retrospective application of the 2020 rules and held that the
rules will have the prospective effects.
The court has once again played their role and tried to protect the established
precedents and the necessary basic constitutional principles. The court has
continuously stood as obstruction for the government's arbitrary actions. It
is a high time that the government should make rules for the public welfare and
not for their interest and also uphold the Supreme Court directions. If the act
of public welfare is not performed then there will be increasing tension between
the executive and the judiciary. No one is allowed to interfere in the domain of
In the light of the Supreme Court Judgment in 2020 the central government have
come up with new rules in the year 2021 by promulgating ordinance on 4th April
2021. This ordinance was brought as a result of the directions issued by the
Supreme Court in the madras bar association case. The ordinance aims to make
rules under the finance act 2017 and also amend various acts related to
The ordinance has miserably failed to obey the court orders as a
result the petitioner madras bar association who always challenge anything
against the affairs of the tribunals has filed the writ petition challenging
the tribunal reform ordinance 2021 as against the supreme court orders of 2020 judgement and also the basic structure. One thing which was important and unique
here to note was that the bill was pending in the loksabha and it was
promulgated as an ordinance by the president of India exercising its power under
article 123 of the constitution of India.
Ordinance Making Powers
It is quite well settled that the law making body in India is the legislature
but there can be some situation when the parliament is not in session presently
which is due to the pandemic. But, there may arise some situation of urgency in
legislative department. As a flexible constitution, our constitution gives power
to the executive under article 123 when an immediate action is required then
president can promulgate an ordinance.
An ordinance is itself a law and can do
legislative changes it is just the fact that on an emergency situation executive
can step in the shoes of the legislature for a temporary period. They require
the parliament approval for the law within 6 weeks of the first sitting of the
parliament after the ordinance is promulgated.
In the case of RC Cooper vs Union of India the court has held that this
power can be used when immediate action is required. The court has held that
president power can be challenged on the ground that immediate action was not
required. In the case of AK Roy vs Union of India  it was held that
president power is subject to judicial review but only when substantial ground
against it is made.
In the case of D.C. Wadhwa vs State of Bihar it was held that the ordinance
making power can be used in the exceptional circumstances and not to replace the
legislature or arbitrarily making ordinance just to bypass the procedure of the
Recent Development and 2021 Petition
The petitioner challenged the 2021 rules on the following grounds while it is
necessary to note that the petition is still pending with the Supreme Court and
regular hearing is on where the petitioner had registered their strict
opposition. The government has done legislative overruling of the Supreme Court
judgement continuously by acting in violation of the order. They have always
overlooked the previous courts judgement. It is high time the judiciary should
come out harsh to make them follow their orders. The main problem lies with the
fact that the executive want to have control over the sensitive things which can
affect the judiciary as an organ and their sanctity.
The main point of opposing
the tribunal ordinance 2021 are as follows:
- The ordinance fixes an age limit for appointment in the tribunals as 50
years. This is against the Supreme Court orders in the previous case which
even not agreed to 25 years of agreement and directed for the appointment in
conformity with the requirements of the judges of the high court. As much as
younger and emerging talent will be taken into the system the functioning of
the tribunal will make them reach their objective. The younger mind comes up
with new talent and new way of working and ideas which can be useful for the
- The Supreme Court has emphasized for judicial dominance in the committee
but still the provisions like 'appointment cannot be void on the fact that a
member in the committee is not present'�. This has left the door open for the
secretary for voting and not exclusively exclude the rights.
- The term of office is still intact to 4 years. Although the maximum age
of retirement is changed according to the judgement but the ordinance provides
that either 4 years or the maximum age whichever is earlier will be considered.
There was several issues with short tenure which the government did not answer
in the ordinance.
- The Supreme Court gave clear orders with regard to the appointment that
there can be no discretion on the central government to appoint the bench of
the tribunals and held that there will be suggestion of one name as almost
final and the other as a substitute in the waiting list. The ordinance again
provide for recommendation of two names to the government.
- There is prima facie dilution or overriding of the judgement of the
court where the court directed for appointment should be made within 3 months of
recommendation to which the ordinance answers with the word preferably meaning
that appointment should be notified 'preferably within 3 months'.
- Where the court provided protection to the appointment made after
November 2017 that it will continue for 5 years. The ordinance override the judgement and provided for 4 years only. It is to be seen that something has
been done as detrimental to the interest of the judiciary.
- The centre has not taken any steps for the establishment of the national
tribunal commission which was directed in the 2020 judgement.
It abolishes nine appellate tribunal and give the jurisdiction to the respective
high courts. The above point of challenge does not need any further comments as
the Supreme Court had already issued modified orders in the 2020 judgement. The
only fact is that the central government completely overlooks the same.
court will decide over the matter in a course of time but the attorney general
in the recent hearing answered the court that the court can give many judgements
but the government is not bound to implement all those. If one system does not
obey the other, there will be shortage of the spirit of democracy which promotes
criticism. The attorney general remark is a blow on the court which has proved
to be savior of the democracy.
In the recent hearing of the matter the court was seen now questioning the
petitioner continuously and considered the parliament powers and its sanctity as
a body. In the recent hearing the court has held that parliament is not required
to give reasons for their legislation. If the bill is passed by the parliament
it is presumed that they have followed the necessary process and there can be no
question regarding that. The court was seen as humble towards the acts of the
executives and may put the fight at rest between the executives and the
judiciary. The judgement in the case in the near future is awaited.
The amendment made in the appellate body which shifts the jurisdiction to the
high courts is just opposite to the objective behind setting up of tribunal. The
high court will again be over burdened with the case. It was smooth for the
appellate tribunals to act as supplement for the high court according to
the chandrakumar judgement.
Apart from the petitioner and the court agreeing to
the petitioner challenge to the rules and amendments, this time various statkeholders have also opposed the amendments like the directors and producers
of the films who get speedy disposal of their issue through the film
certification tribunal which might be allowing or rejecting film but now through
the high court the matter will get pending and much delay will be there and some
of the films are brought as the need of the time and if the clearance is given
after such time has passed this will be disadvantageous to the producers and
It was held by the court in the Salem bar association case that
the judicial impact assessment of the laws to be brought by the parliament
should be done so that a law holds good after it has been enacted. In the
tribunal ordinance there is no as such suggestions taken from the judiciary but
they are acting in the defiance of the judiciary.
After having all such
resources executives fail to observe the possible impact of the legislation,
they have not taken suggestions from the stakeholders in the tribunals before
amending the acts. Thus judicial impact assessment can be a valuable tool for
the legislation passed in India.
Conclusion and Recommendation
- After the due recognition of all the facts and cases, contrary to the chandrakumar judgement I suggest that the power of the judicial review of the
tribunals should be with the Supreme Court. The power given to the high courts
has increased burden and ambiguity because of different interpretations. It is
also clear that the judicial review of the high court is not same as Supreme
- The executives must obey the Judgement of the Supreme Court which is a
constitutional body and should not bypass its authority by the term known as the:
'legislative over-ruling'. The court has issued direction for the
administration of the tribunal from the madras bar association case (2010) to
madras bar association case (2020) which must be honored by the executive to
make good law. This includes all things like setup of a commission, term,
appointment, selection committee, allowance etc.
- The tribunals should have benches in various part of the countries to
have a reach to maximum number of peoples. Apart from this specific
recommendation the only general thing which can be recommended is to approve
the directions of the Supreme Court to which the law commission has also
concurred. Clubbing all the directions issued by the supreme court from the
last decade till now should be clubbed and one ideal set of directions
should be made which discusses about the term of office, appointment process
and time, composition and powers of the committees, qualifications of the
member, condition for the technical members, setting up a commission or the
nodal agency for the tribunal, allowance, filing up vacancy, procedure for
appeal. All this will ensure independence of judiciary and separation of
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