The Supreme Court has lambasted the Centre on Monday, for enacting Tribunal Reforms Act, reducing the terms of members and chairmen of tribunals.
The Supreme Court said that the Tribunal Reforms Act is similar to a law, which was earlier struck down by the top court.
“Centre appears hell-bent on not respecting Supreme Court orders,” a three-judge bench of the top court said.
The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprises chief justice NV Ramana, justices DY Chandrachud and LN Rao.
The Supreme Court has also issued notice to the Centre on petitions challenging the validity of the Tribunal Reforms Act, which came into force on August 31.
“You (Centre) are emasculating the tribunals,” said the Supreme Court.
“Why is it taking one and half years to appoint tribunal members and chairpersons,” the SC asked.
The Supreme Court further said that it does not want to enter into a confrontation with the government.
“We do not want confrontation with the government but we will be left with no option but to either close down the tribunals or take over the appointments and initiate contempt if the government does not implement the recommendations,” the SC bench said.
The Tribunal Reforms Act seeks to dissolve certain existing appellate bodies and transfer their functions (such as adjudication of appeals) to other existing judicial bodies.
The Tribunal Reforms Bill (now act) was introduced in the Lok Sabha just days after the Supreme Court struck down the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance of 2021.
India now has 16 tribunals including the National Green Tribunal, the Armed Forces Appellate Tribunal, and the Debt Recovery Tribunal among others which also suffer from crippling vacancies.
The Act provides for a four-year term of office (subject to the upper age limit of 70 years for the chairperson, and 67 years for members).
The Act further states that the central government shall, on the recommendation of the Search-cum-Selection Committee, remove from office any Chairperson or a Member.