Tribunalization of Justice in India

Tribunalization of Justice in India

• Tribunals were added in the Constitution by Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976 as Part XIV-A, which has only two articles viz. 323-A and 323-B.
• While article 323-A deals with Administrative Tribunals; article 323-B deals with tribunals for other matters.
• In general sense, the ‘tribunals’ are not courts of normal jurisdiction, but they have very specific and predefined work area.
• The administrative tribunals are not original invention of the Indian Political System.
• They are well established in all democratic countries of Europe as well as United States of America.

Procedure followed by Tribunals

• A Tribunal is not barred by the provisions of the Evidence Act.

• In order to discover the truth, the Tribunal may resort to the inquisitional procedure, provided no principle of natural justice is violated.
• Tribunals shall be guided solely by the principles of natural justice unfettered by anything in the CPC and shall have the power to regulate its own procedure.
• It is competent to execute its own order

What are the various issues arising out of tribunalization of justice in India?

Devaluation of the authority of High Courts.
• Appeals going directly to the Supreme courts, bypassing High Courts. In this case, Supreme Court would have less time and resources for constitutional matters.
• Many tribunals have no constitutional protection.
• There is no scope of a dissenting judgement in a tribunal.
Rampant tribunalization – through Companies Act, Electricity Act, SEBI etc.
Justice becomes costly and less accessible as unlike High Courts, tribunals are not present in almost each state.
• The High Court judges would not be able to gain experience on specialized matter, due to all such matters going to relevant tribunals. In the long term, this would be detrimental to the judiciary, as in the years to come the Supreme Court judges will not be having the relevant experience and exposure to adjudicate the appeals from the tribunals.
• Problem of pendency will increase in the Supreme Court.
• By adjudicating on certain cases, the High Courts trigger the process of amendments in the constitution, and law making. This gets hampered with the rampant tribunalization of justice as the high courts do not get the opportunity to adjudicate certain cases.

What are the views of the Law commission of India on Tribunals?

• According to the latest report of the law panel, the top five central tribunals in the country have a combined backlog of over 3.50 lakh cases.
• In its report ‘Assessment of Statutory Frameworks of Tribunals in India’, the panel said “though the disposal rate of the tribunals in comparison to the filing of cases per year had been remarkable — 94 per cent — the pendency remains high.
• It pointed out that the concept of tribunals was developed to overcome the crisis of delay and backlogs in the administration of justice in regular courts.
• “However, the data officially available, in respect of working of some of the tribunals do not depict a satisfactory picture,” the report said.
• The Law Commission of India has recommended that the writ petitions challenging the decisions of different central tribunals in the country should be filed before a division bench of the High Court instead of the Supreme Court.

Way Forward

• The real problem facing the judiciary is of pendency of cases, lack of expertise, vacant judicial posts and time taking and expensive judicial process.
• Therefore, the real solution lies in appointing more number of judges and developing expertise within the High Courts on relevant matters. This can be done by setting up expert branches within the High Courts.
• The writ petitions challenging the decisions of different central tribunals in the country should be filed before a division bench of the High Court instead of the Supreme Court.

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