Hyderabad: Tribunals in Telangana State are virtually defunct as 11 of them are running without chairman/presiding officer. While the one on Value Added Tax (VAT) has a chairperson, it does not have other members to form the quorum.
Every tribunal shall have one each presiding officer, administrative member and technical member. Tribunals act as quasi-judicial bodies to adjudicate on disputes and ensure justice. Tribunals' orders can go in appeal before the high court.
Since November 16, the VAT tribunal headed by Judge Anupama Chakravarthy has been assigned the additional works of the labour, industrial, cooperative and other tribunals.
The VAT tribunal alone has 2,600 cases pending before it. A top official of the tribunal said vacancies existed because of the elevation of judicial officers as judges of the high court and civil court. At least four judges have been posted to the VAT tribunal but posts were still kept vacant, it is learnt.
The VAT tribunal accepts only cases having a commercial value of above Rs 5 lakh. Disputes are mounting with GST implementation. An advocate said filling up of posts in tribunals will speed up resolution of pending cases and help the state government earn more revenue. “Yet, we do not know why the vacancies exist.”
A source at the VAT Tribunal said Labour Tribunal 1 has 400 cases, Tribunal 2 has 120 cases, and Tribunal 3 has 130 cases pending while Industrial Tribunal 1 has 500 cases, 2 has 173 and 3 has 53 cases pending before them. The cooperative tribunal has 200 pending cases.
The sources said work at VAT Tribunal is completely paralyzed while cases are being heard and disposed of in tribunals where members were present.
M Ram Gopal, an advocate, said there is the need to fill up the vacant posts of presiding officers and members at various tribunals. The state has already scrapped the administrative tribunal in 2016, which led to transferring of hundreds of cases to the high court.
Even land acquisition matters are getting delayed as the only one such tribunal in the state has no presiding officer. “Earlier, we had district land acquisition forums for adjudication. These are closed,” stated advocate Madhusudhan Reddy.
High courts are questioning litigants why they are directly approaching it when there existed an alternative forum in the form of tribunals, he noted.