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Dependence of the Tribunals for all their requirements on the parent Department will not extricate them from the control of the executive: High Court of Delhi

Judicial independence of the Tribunals can be achieved only when the Tribunals are provided the necessary infrastructure and other facilities without having to lean on the shoulders of the executive. This was held in the case of R Subrmanian v Union of India, [W.P.(C) 2864/2021 & CM APPL. 8636/2021] by Hon’ble Justice M. Singh in the High Court of Delhi.

The petitioner who is a practicing advocate submitted that NCLT benches are to be constituted and set up in all States and at this point there are only 19 judicial members and 22 technical members. Despite the heavy load of cases, the appointments to the NCLT and NCLAT are considerably delayed. The counsel for the respondents submitted that issues raised in this petition are fully covered by the judgment of the Supreme Court in Madras Bar Association v. Union of India & Anr, 2020 SCC Online SC 962 where the Supreme Court has directed the formation of a `National Tribunals Commission’ to take care of the administrative and infrastructural needs of tribunals. While the said Commission is formed, as an interregnum measure, the Court has also provided for the setting up of a separate `Tribunals wing’ in the Ministry of Finance.

The Court has perused the judgment of the Supreme Court in Madras Bar Association (supra). Clearly, the judgment covers the issues which have been raised by the Petitioner, including in respect of appointments to Tribunals, enquiries against members, monitoring of the functioning and the filling up of vacancies in Tribunals, as well as assessment of the workload and providing all adequate infrastructure. The mounting arrears in the Tribunals is mainly due to the delay in filling up the vacancies of the Presiding Officers and members of the Tribunals. The learned Amicus Curiae suggested that there should be a National Tribunals Commission manned by retired Judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices of the High Courts and Members from the Executive which will have a full-time Secretary performing the following functions: a) Selection of candidates; b) Re-appointment of candidates; c) Conducting of inquiry against Members; d) Sanction leave of Members wherever necessary; e) Monitor the functioning of the Tribunals, in particular, the arrears and disposal of cases and filling up of vacancies and ensuring adequate infrastructure; and f) Ensure adequate infrastructure and IT support.

The Court ordered Union of India to set up a National Tribunals Commission as suggested by this Court by its order at the earliest. Setting up of such Commission would enhance the image of the Tribunals and instill confidence in the minds of the litigants. Dependence of the Tribunals for all their requirements on the parent Department will not extricate them from the control of the executive. Judicial independence of the Tribunals can be achieved only when the Tribunals are provided the necessary infrastructure and other facilities without having to lean on the shoulders of the executive. This can be achieved by establishment of an independent National Tribunals Commission as suggested above.

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