Retiring CAT, NCDRC members to remain in office till Apr 15:SC
The Supreme Court today ordered that the retiring judicial and non-judicial members of apex consumer forum NCDRC and the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) shall continue in offices till April 15.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered the statement of Attorney General that the judicial and non- judicial members, who are set to retire, may be allowed to function in their respective capacities till March 31 to ensure that functioning of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) and the CAT do not get affected adversely.
Responding to the suggestion, Attorney General K K Venugopal today told the bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, that the present members of these two panels may be allowed to continue till March 31 next year.
The bench considered the response of Venugopal and decided that the retiring officials of these two panels would serve till April 15 next year.
The bench, on being pointed out about the vacancies in the National Green Tribunal and the Armed Force Tribunal, said it was “aware of the the situation”.
It said the Attorney General has assured the court that the apex court judgement on such appointments would be followed.
The apex court was told by the petitioners that the NCDRC and CAT were functioning with depleted strength and they would be further depleted by end of January, 2018.
The Centre had on December 8 told the apex court that it may look into the possibility of amending the Finance Act to include a nominee of the Chief Justice of India in the selection and disciplinary committees for administrative members in various tribunals.
It had also told the top court that it was willing to look into the suggestion of Chief Justice to fix the tenure of judicial members of a tribunal for five years.
The assurance was made following a batch of pleas, including from the National Green Tribunal Bar Association and Employees Provident Fund Tribunal Bar Association, challenged the new Finance Act which has changed the search, selection and removal process of members and presiding officers of tribunals, including CAT.
The court had on September 4 refused to grant an interim stay on the Act.
The pleas have challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the ‘Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (qualifications, experience and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017’.
The pleas said the rules framed under the Finance Act provide that the search-cum-selection committee to select its administrative members will be headed by a nominee of the central government.
Earlier, the Chief Justice of India or his nominee had a role in the selection of administrative members of CAT, the pleas said.
The batch of pleas have also sought an interim stay on the provisions of the new Act and the Rules, under which a new Search-cum-Selection Committee for the post of Administrative Member would be set up.
However, on the issue of selection of CAT’s chairperson and judicial members, the 2017 Rules provide that this committee would be headed by the CJI or his nominee.
The Finance Act, which came into effect from April 1, led to the framing of the 2017 Rules which allegedly gave “unbridled” powers to the Executive to decide on the qualification of the members, their appointment and removal among other issues, one of the petitions filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said.
The apex court had earlier issued notice to the Centre on two other similar pleas filed by Ramesh and an NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE).
The NGO had sought the quashing of Part 14 of the Finance Act and Rules framed under it. It alleged that the alterations brought about by the Finance Act would weaken the functioning of tribunals including the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and curtail.
As carried in BS