It is not possible to define the word “tribunal” scientifically. In general, ‘tribunal’ is an administrative body which exercise the power of adjudication, but it is not accepted as an appendage of government department. Tribunal should be regarded as machinery provided by Parliament for adjudication rather than as part of machinery of administration.
As regards the Indian context the term ‘tribunal’ has been used under the Constitution, but has not been defined.
In Durga Shankar Mehta v. Raghuraj Singh ( A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 520 ) the Supreme Court has defined the term ‘tribunal’ in the following words: “The expression ‘tribunal’ as used in Article 136 not mean the same thing as Court but includes within its ambits all adjudicating bodies”.
CHARACTERISTIC OF ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
A tribunal must have the following characteristic-
i) An administrative tribunal is the creation is the creation of a statute and it has a statutory origin.
ii) It has some of the trappings of a court but not in all.
iii) It has some power as regards, discovery, inspection, taking evidence, as are possessed by civil court.
iv) Witnesses are examined and cross- examined as in a Court of law.
v) An administrative tribunal is not bound by the strict rules of evidence.
vi) They are independent and they are not subjects to any administrative interference in the discharge of their judicial or quasi- judicial function.
vii) The decisions of the tribunal are in fact judicial rather than administrative.
viii) The writs of certiorari and prohibition are available against decision of administrative tribunal.
ix) It is required to sit in public.
x) Members of the tribunal are persons qualified to be judges.
REASONS FOR THE GROWTH
The complexities of intensive form of Government and Synthetic structure of present society have given rise to new problems requiring new solutions. In these circumstances, administrative tribunals are established for the following reasons.
i) The traditional judicial system proved inadequate to decide and settle all disputes requiring solution. It was slow, costly, inexpert, complex and formalistic. For these reasons, tribunals were established.
ii) Administrative authorities can avoid technicalities, but it is not possible for the court of law. Tribunal can take practical view of the matter to decide the complex problems.
iii) Administrative authorities can resort to preventive measures. In a number of cases, these preventive actions may be more effective, than punishing a person after he has violated any legal provisions.
iv) Administrative authorities can take effective steps for policing of the aforesaid preventive measures, e.g., suspension, revocation of cancellation of licenses etc. which are not feasible through the regular courts.
v) Administrative Tribunals discharge their functions more rapidly, more cheaply, more efficiently than ordinary courts. Administrative Tribunals have come into existence as a result of the philosophy of welfare State and consequential socialization of law.
Section 4 of this Act describe the composition of the tribunal and bench. Each tribunal shall consist of a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Judicial and Administrative members. Every bench must include at least one judicial and one administrative member. The benches of the Central Tribunal shall ordinarily sit at New Delhi, Allahabad, Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and such other place as the Central Government specifies. The Chairman transfer the Vice Chairman or other members from one bench to another bench.
JUDICIAL CONTROL OVER THE TRIBUNAL
The Supreme Court and The High Court’s exercise judicial control over Tribunals. Under Article 136, the Supreme Court has plenary jurisdiction in the matter of entertaining and hearing appeals against any judgement, decree, determination or order passed or made by a Tribunal by granting special leave. However, this does not apply to any judgement, determination, sentence or order passed or made by Tribunal constituted or under High Court has superintendence over all tribunal throughout the territories to which it exercises jurisdiction. In L, Chandra Kumar v. Union of India (A.I.R.1997 S.C.1125) the apex court opined that the power of The High Court and the Supreme Court to test the constitutional validity of legislations cannot be ousted or excluded.
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