The top court of India criticized the government on Monday, concerning the delay in the appointment of the vacancies in Tribunals and also on enacting the Tribunal Reforms Act, which is identical to the earlier law which has already been struck down by the Supreme court.
The bench of CJI N V Ramana and Justice D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao said the Centre is not respecting its judgement and the circumstances are testing the patience of the top court. The bench told the centre, "You are emasculating the tribunals".
CJI Ramana found the government's delay upsetting, while also pointing out that it was happy with the speedy clearance by the government to the appointments of judges at the apex court. The bench also pointed out that it does not understand the reason for such a delay when the clearance of 9 Supreme Court judges was given just 7 days after the recommendation reached it. The bench asked the centre, "Why is it taking one and half years to appoint tribunal members and chairpersons.”
Although the CJI mentioned that he is not looking forward to a confrontation with the government, if nothing is done the court will have no choice on the matter. The only options it would have would be either closing down the tribunal or take over the appointment of the tribunals and initiate contempt, if the government fails to act on it, he said.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta wanted to adjourn the matter till Thursday since Attorney general K.K Venugopal was unavailable, and was bombarded with questions by the bench instead.
Justice Chandrachud pointed out to Tushar Mehta that the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) are important to the economy of the country. Without members or chairpersons, cases are not being heard, which is creating a critical position.
If orders are not met with action by the government, the court has pointed out the following options, staying the Tribunal Reforms Act, closing down Tribunals, appointing people to fill up vacancies in the Tribunal themselves, and initiating contempt of court proceedings.
The court had given time of 10 days, on August 16th, to make the appointment to the Tribunal, cautioning the centre with repercussions, if the same was not done. Now, further hearing on the matter will happen next Monday.
-Supratik Mitra (06/09/21)