Administrative Tribunals

Administrative Law determines the power which can be exercised by the government. After the Indian Constitution was drafted, several rights were guaranteed to the citizens of India. Citizens have the right to speedy trial which is not possible due to the prevailing situation of the judiciary system due to the large number of cases pending, technicalities in procedure etc. So, a need was felt for establishing tribunals in order to quickly solve the disputes. Administrative Tribunals are adjudicatory bodies which lie outside the sphere of the ordinary court of law. In India, the judicial powers are vested in the Courts which safeguards the rights of individuals and promotes justice. Therefore, to establish an effective judiciary with fewer complexities, the judicial powers are delegated to administrative authorities which give rise to administrative tribunals which perform quasi-judicial functions.

The Constitutional (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976 [1] introduced Part XIV-A in the Indian Constitution which includes Article 323A and 323B, which gives power to the parliament to constitute administrative tribunals for settlement of disputes and adjudication of matters. The main objective behind establishment of administrative tribunal was to reduce the burden of cases. Administrative tribunals are neither a judicial body nor an administrative body. They are quasi-judicial bodies.

Types of Administrative Tribunals

  • Article 323A – Administrative Tribunals for service matter

This article provides for establishment of administrative tribunals to adjudicate the disputes which are related to recruitment and conditions of service of Government servants working under Centre and State Government. The tribunals should be established at centre and state level and separately for each state or a common tribunal for two or more states.

  • Article 323B – Tribunals for other matters

This article gives the power to the parliament and the state legislature for the establishment of tribunals to adjudicate disputes or complaints in matters specified under clause (2) of this article. Some of the matters mentioned under clause (2) are foreign exchange and export; production, procurement, supply and distribution of food stuff; levy, assessment, collection and enforcement of any tax etc.

In the case of L. Chandra Kumar vs Union of India[2], the Supreme Court decided the jurisdictional powers of the administrative tribunals which are formed under Article 323A and 323B. The Supreme Court struck down clause 2(d) of Article 323A and clause 3(d) of Article 323B on the grounds that they exclude the jurisdiction of the High Courts under Article 226 and 227 and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 32.

The Supreme Court observed that the administrative tribunals created under Article 323A and 323B are courts of first instance and the complainants should first approach the tribunals and not directly approach the High Court. The complainant cannot directly approach the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution, but they should first approach the High Court under Article 226/227 and after the decision of the High Court the party can approach the Supreme Court under Article 136.

Characteristics of Administrative Tribunals

  1. Administrative Tribunals are created by a statute.
  2. They have some features of the ordinary court.
  3. They are vested with the judicial power of the State and thus performs quasi-judicial function.
  4. They should act judicially and should follow the principles of natural justice.
  5. Writs like certiorari and prohibition are available against the decision of the administrative tribunals
  6. They do not have to follow any strict rules of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

Advantages of Administrative Law

The following are the advantages of administrative law:

  • Flexibility

The administrative tribunals are quiet flexible, informal and have an easy-going procedure. Unlike the ordinary court which have a very stringent and inflexible procedure.

  • Speedy Justice

Administrative tribunals can deliver quick and quality justice, since they do not have to follow any complex procedure.

  • Less Expensive

Administrative tribunals take less time to solve the cases in comparison to the ordinary courts which results in lesser expenses.

  • Relief to the Ordinary Courts

The administrative tribunals have helped in lowering the burden of cases on the ordinary courts.

Disadvantages of Administrative Law

The following are the disadvantages of administrative law:

  1. No Specified Procedure

The administrative tribunals are not bound to follow any rigid rules and regulations. There may be chances where the principles of natural justice might be violated.

  • No prediction of decision

The administrative tribunals are not bound to follow any precedents. So, it is very difficult to predict future decisions.

  • No Uniform Code

The civil and criminal courts work according to the procedures which are prescribed under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (C.P.C) and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) respectively. But administrative tribunals have their own procedures which can lead to arbitrariness in its functioning. 

The Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985

Following the provisions of Article 323A, the parliament passed The Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985[3].

This act states that there should be a Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) at the centre level and a State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) at the state level.

Section 4[4] of the act states composition of the tribunals and its bench. Each tribunal should consist of a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Judicial and Administrative Members. Each bench should at least have one judicial member and one administrative member.

Section 6[5] of the act states the qualification of members of tribunals

  • Chairman: For a person to be appointed as a chairman, he/she should possess the following qualifications:

(i) He/she is or has been the judge of High Court.

(ii) He/she has held the office of Vice Chairman for at least two years.

(iii) He/she has held the post of secretary to the Government of India.

(iv)  He/she has held any other post carrying the pay scale of secretary.

  • Vice Chairman: For a person to be appointed as a vice chairman, he/she should possess the following qualifications:

(i) He/she is or has been the judge of High Court.

(ii) He/she has held the post of Secretary to the Government of India for 2 years or has held any other post carrying the same pay scale under Centre or State Government.

(iii) He/she has held the post of Additional Secretary to the Government of India for 5 years or has held any other post carrying the pay scale of Additional Secretary.

  • Judicial Member: For a person to be appointed as a judicial member, he/she should possess the following qualifications:

(i) He/she is or has been the judge of High Court.

(ii) He/she has been a member of Indian Legal Service.

(iii) He/she has held the post in Grade 1 of the service for at least 3 years.

  • Administrative Member: For a person to be appointed as an administrative member, he/she should possess the following qualifications:

(i) He/she has held the post of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India or any other equivalent post for at least 2 years.

(ii) He/she has held the post of a Joint Secretary to the Government of India or any other equivalent post.

(iii) He/she has adequate administrative experience.

The Chairman, Vice Chairman and other administrative member are appointed by the President. The Judicial Members are appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.

Section 8[6] of the Act states the term of the office. The Chairman, Vice Chairman and other member of the tribunal can hold the office for at least 5 years or if he attains:

(i) The age of 65 years, in case of the Chairman or Vice Chairman.

(ii) The age of 62 years, in case of other members.

Section 9[7]of the Act states the resignation and removal of members of the tribunal. The Chairman, Vice Chairman, Judicial Member and Administrative Member can resign from their post by writing to the President.

They can be removed by the President on the ground of proven misbehavior or incapacity after an enquiry made by the judge of the Supreme Court. They have the right to be informed of the charges against them and they should be given reasonable opportunity of hearing.

Conclusion

The main reason people go to court is to solve the cases effectively and efficiently. Similar functions are performed by the administrative tribunals, which supplements the original courts. The concept of administrative tribunals is gaining a lot of importance these days as it is less expensive and helps in solving the disputes quickly. However, certain changes are needed in the present tribunal system to improve and satisfy the parties.


[1] https://legislative.gov.in/constitution-forty-second-amendment-act-1976 (Last Visited on 1st August, 2021 at 11:40 AM)

[2] AIR 1997 (2) SCR 1186

[3] https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1985-13_0.pdf (Last Visited on 1st August, 2021 at 11:50 AM)

[4]https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1975029/#:~:text=Section%204%20in%20The%20Administrative%20Tribunals%20Act%2C%201985&text=(1)%20The%20Central%20Government%20shall,by%20or%20under%20this%20Act(Last Visited on 1th August, 2021 at 12:25 PM)

[5] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/749261/ (Last Visited on 1th August, 2021 at 12:45 PM)

[6]https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1382156/#:~:text=Section%208%20in%20The%20Administrative%20Tribunals%20Act%2C%201985&text=(1)%20The%20Chairman%20shall%20hold,age%20of%20sixty%2Deight%20years. (Last Visited on 1th August, 2021 at 1:15 PM)

[7]https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1806609/#:~:text=(1)%20The%20Chairman%2C%2028,the%20expiry%20of%20three%20months (Last Visited on 1st August, 2021 at 1:45 PM)

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