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Administrative Tribunals in India


Authored by Shweta Tated


Keywords: Tribunals, Courts, Article 323A, Article 323B


Introduction

The Constitution of India by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 included a new Part XIV-A inserted Articles 323 (A) and 323 (B) as administrative tribunals and tribunals for other matters.[1] Tribunals are observed as judgement seat or court of justice or board or committee appointed to adjudicate on claims of a specific kind which suggests they’re not courts of normal jurisdiction however they have a very specific and predefined work area. A tribunal is known as s body with judicial or quasi-judicial powers and functions set-up by a statute outside the customary judicial hierarchy of SCs and HCs.


A tribunal is mentioned as the office of the Tribunes that is a Roman official under the monarchy and the republic with the function of protecting the citizen from arbitrary action by the aristocrat magistrates. The tribunals were established with the aim of providing a speedy, cheap and decentralized determination of disputes arising out of the assorted welfare legislations and to deal with specific cases coming out of new socio-economic legislations.


Administrative Tribunal

The Administrative Tribunal was set-up by an act of Parliament. An administrative tribunal is neither an absolutely administrative unit nor an exclusively judicial institution. Therefore, they’re quasi-judicial in nature. It’s is a multimember body to hear on cases filed by the staff members alleging non-observation of their terms of service or other related matters and to pass judgments on those cases. The Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 provides for three sorts of tribunals:

1. Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT)

2. State Administrative Tribunal (SAT)

3. Joint Administrative Tribunal (JAT)[2]


Characteristics of Administrative Tribunal

Some of the characteristics of the administrative tribunal are:

a. The administrative tribunal has statutory origin as it is a creation of a statute.

b. It has the get-up of a court with having some of the trapping of a court but not all.

c. It performs quasi-judicial functions because it’s restrained to act judicially.

d. It’s not accountable to strict rules of evidence and procedure but, it is based on the principles of natural justice.

e. It enjoys independent states free from any administrative interference within the discharge of their judicial or quasi-judicial functions.

f. It is required to act openly, fairly and impartially.

g. In absence of any statutory provisions, a tribunal can’t review its own decision.

h. It is confined exclusively to resolve disputes or cases where government is a party but it often moves to decide disputes between two private parties like election tribunal, rent control board.

i. If any issue is settled by the HC then it can’t be entertained by the administrative tribunal.

j. Just in any case of procedural matters an administrative tribunal possesses powers of a court that’s to summon witness, to administer oaths and compel production of documents.

k. The prerogative writs of certiorari and prohibition are available against the decisions of administrative tribunals; thus, it can’t get rid of any matter as a final arbitrator.

l. It is perpetual in nature and established specially to get involve with a particular type of case or with a number of closely related class of cases.[3]


Division of Administrative Tribunal

The administrative tribunal can mainly be divided into two categories. They are:

• Administrative Tribunal for service matter

• Tribunals for other matters


These two are further elaborated as,

Administrative Tribunal for service matter: Under Article 323 (A) it provides for the establishment of administrative tribunals under law made by parliament for adjudication of disputes and complaints regarding the recruitment and condition of service of civil servants.[4] It includes in its ambit employees of any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of government of India or an organization owned/controlled by the government. The establishment of such tribunals must be at the center and state level separately for every state or for two or more states. The law must integrate the provisions for the jurisdiction, power and authority to be exercised by tribunals; the procedure to be followed by tribunals; the exclusion of the jurisdiction of all other courts except the Supreme Court of India.


Tribunals for other matters: Under Article 323 (B) it empowers the Parliament and state legislatures to administer tribunals for adjudication of matters enlisted in clause (2) to the article. Variety of the matters being:

• Levy, assessment, collection and enforcement of any tax

• Foreign exchange and export

• Industrial and labour disputes

• Production, procurement, supply and distribution of foodstuff

• Rent, its regulation and control, tenancy issues[5]

Such a law must define the jurisdiction, powers of such tribunals and lay down the procedure to be followed.


Need for Administrative Principle

The courts are overburdened and there is inordinate delay within the delivery of justice as the cases can’t be disposed of quickly. There arose a demand for growth of administrative decision making and to explore new public law standards based on moral and social principles away from highly individualistic norms developed by courts. It was also a desire to provide system of adjudication which is informal, cheap and rapid.


Many new problems come up due to adoption of welfare state and there has been enormous increase in functions of government and thus administrative adjudication came into existence. Quick justice by these tribunals are provided by overriding the procedure laid by the CPC and evidence act. Expenses in ordinary cases are high as cases continue for a long period whereas it is low as compared to in these tribunals. The Courts administer the cases in accordance with law and they are fit to deal with the cases consisting policy consideration. Such issues are often addressed better if they are entrusted to the Administrative Tribunals.


Merits of Administrative Principle

1. The administrative tribunals are quite informal and have easy-going procedure.

2. The justice delivered in the matters are quick and of quality.

3. The expenses are low as the process is cheaper and fast

4. These tribunals are the best and use most effective methods of providing adequate and quality justice.

5. It lowered down burden from the ordinary courts.


De-Merits of Administrative Principle

1. There is a deviation from the Rule of Law as there are separate laws leading its neglect.

2. There is no uniformity in composition and its procedure.

3. Appointment of the members is a drawback as they aren’t required to be experts or possess legal qualification.

4. Don’t follow precedents it is not possible to predict future decisions.

5. They can’t review decisions unless power are conferred by relevant statutes.


Case laws

a. L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India[6]: The jurisdictional powers under Articles 323 (A) and 323 (B) were reached by the court. The SC struck down clause 2(d) of Article 323A and clause 3(d) of Article 323B on the ground that they excluded the jurisdiction of the High Courts and the Supreme Court under Article 226/227 and 32 respectively. The SC ruled that the tribunals created under Article 323A and 323B would continue to be the courts of the first instance in their respective areas for which they are constituted. The litigants aren’t allowed to approach the High Court’s directly by overlooking the jurisdiction of the concerned tribunal. No appeal for the decision of the tribunal would lie directly before the Supreme Court under Article 136 but instead, the aggrieved party would be entitled to move the High Court under Article 226 and 227 and after the decision of the Division Bench of the High Court, the party may approach the Apex Court under Article 136.


b. Durga Shankar Mehta v. Raghuraj Singh[7]: The Tribunal was defined by the SC when it said that as used in Article 136, the tribunal isn’t equivalent as Court but entails all bodies that adjudicate on condition that they’re constituted by the State and lid upon with judicial duties differentiated from administrative or executive duties.


c. Bharat Bank Ltd. v. Employees[8]: The SC maintained that tribunals aren’t courts even though they have apparel and practice quasi-judicial functions.


Conclusion

According to the present scenario the administration has become a crucial part of the government and also the citizens. Administrative Tribunals discharge their functions more rapidly, cheaply and efficiently than ordinary Courts, possess greater technical knowledge and fewer prejudices against the Government, give greater lead to the social interests involved, and decide disputes with conscious effort at furthering social policy embodied within the legislation. The trend of future development of law appears to be definitely on the lines of the tribunal era where more segments of a society in legal system make use of this kind of justice delivery system. It’ll also herald the era of prompt legal justice and socio-economic justice.

Foot Notes:


[1] “Article 323A Constitution of India: Administrative Tribunals.” Latest Laws, www.latestlaws.com/bareacts/central-acts-rules/article-323a-constitution-of-india-administrative-tribunals/. [2] GKToday. “Tribunals in India: Constitutional Provisions.” GKToday Tribunals in India Constitutional Provisions Comments, GKToday, 26 Feb. 2016, www.gktoday.in/gk/tribunals-in-india-constitutionalprovisions/#:~:text=Using the powers conferred by,of service of public servants. [3] “Changing Dimensions of Administrative Tribunals In India An Overview.” Legal Service India - Law, Lawyers and Legal Resources, www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-1725-changing-dimensions-ofadministrative-tribunals-in-india-an-overview-.html. [4] -, Team @Law Times Journal, et al. “Administrative Tribunal.” Law Times Journal, 27 Aug. 2020, lawtimesjournal.in/administrative-tribunal/. [5] Singh, Surjeet. Article 323B Constitution of India, Blogger, 26 July 2016, www.indianconstitution.in/2016/07/article-323b-constitution-of-india.html. [6] -, Riya Rupani, et al. “Case Analysis: L. Chandra Kumar vs. Union of India.” Our Legal World, 18 Apr. 2020, www.ourlegalworld.com/case-analysis-l-chandra-kumar-vs-union-of-india/. [7] India, legal Service. Tribunalization of Justice, www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1909/Tribunalization-ofJustice.html. [8] Homepage - Legal News India, Legal News World, Supreme Court -1, 26 Aug. 2018, www.lawnn.com/administrative-tribunal/.