Prime Minister Narendra Modi a.k.a NAMO has expressed great anguish at the gross delay in disposal of appeals by the Tribunals.
At the recently concluded conference of Chief Justices, NAMO came down hard on the fact that the numerous Tribunals set up across the Country have failed to fulfill the object for which they were set up i.e. to deliver quick and efficient justice to the citizens.
NAMO bemoaned the fact that though enormous investment has been made in setting up these Tribunals and though they are manned by persons of experience and caliber, the purpose has not been met.
“I want all seniors in the Supreme Court to contemplate if tribunals are actually helping in improving functioning of judiciary as a lot of budget goes waste in tribunals and we need to rectify that in a positive way” NAMO said.
The precursor to NAMO’s criticism is a report by a Parliamentary Standing Committee that “The pendency in the tribunals has defeated the purpose for which those tribunals have been created as parallel to high courts” The Law Ministry is also reported to have expressed the view that one solution is that some of the tribunals can be “converged/merged” to avoid “overlapping/identical functions” being discharged by them.
However, it must be noted that the ITAT is an exception to the general rule and cannot be subjected to the same criticism as the other Tribunals.
The ITAT is well respected for the competence of its Bench and Bar and also for its speedy and efficient disposal of appeals. In fact, the ITAT has largely lived upto the promise of “Sulabh Nyay! Satvar Nyay!” (Easy Justice! Speedy Justice!).
It is true that the ITAT is also plagued by the problem of mounting arrears of cases. As at 1st April 2015, the pending appeals before the ITAT stand at a whopping 103,196 cases.
However, the reason for the mounting arrears is not the slow disposal of appeals but the non-appointment by the Government of Members to fill the vacancies.
It may be recalled that in June 2013, the Government had invited applications for appointment of Members. As per the last news, 48 candidates have been short-listed for appointment. However, the formal appointment orders have not yet been issued by the Government.
The non-appointment of the ITAT Members has also irked the Supreme Court and it has passed severe strictures against the Government. “There is no sense of urgency at all on the part of the government,” the Court said while pointing out that recommendation for appointment in the ITAT was forwarded by it eight months back and the Government had not taken any decision till date.
Anyway, the fact that the Government has taken the first step by appointing Hon’ble Justice (Retd) Dev Darshan Sud as the President of the Tribunal augers well for the Institution. If the Government further gets its act together and grants to the ITAT its full sanctioned strength of Members, the problem of mounting arrears will become a distant memory.
NAMO will then have no cause to be distressed about the state of at least one Tribunal.