New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed “extreme disappointment” over the Centre dragging its feet and not filling up the vacancies in various tribunals despite its August 16 order to face consequences if the appointments are not made within 10 days.
Heading a bench also comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Chief Justice N.V. Ramana also took exception to the Centre bringing back in the Tribunal Reforms Act the same provisions that were struck down by the court in July this year on the appointment and tenure of judicial members of tribunals.
“We don't want confrontation with the government and we are happy with the way Supreme Court judges were appointed. These tribunals are collapsing with no members or chairperson," CJI Ramana said. “You are emasculating tribunals by not filling vacancies,” said Justice Nageswara Rao.
Telling the Centre that it was testing the court’s patience for showing no respect for its judgments, the top court gave the Centre time till September 13 to come back with its response.
In an unequivocal message to the Centre, the court said, “It is clear that you don't want to respect the judgments of this court. Now we have the option to stay the Tribunal Reforms Act or close down tribunals or we ourselves appoint the people or the next option is initiate contempt of courts act. These are three options.”
Noting that the new Tribunal Reforms Act verbatim carries the provisions that were turned down by the top court, Justice Chandrachud said, “The Tribunal Reforms Act is a replica of the provisions struck down. We cannot have Madras Bar Association 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… This will continue and the Act will be passed which will be a replica of the earlier one. Also you need to clear appointments which are already cleared and in the pipeline.”
The top court had on July 14, 2021, by a majority judgment of 2:1 set aside the provisions of the Tribunals Reforms Ordinance notified on April 4, reducing the term of members of various tribunals from five to four years.
The majority judgment by Justice L Nageshwara Rao and Justice Ravindra Bhat had held that the change violates the express direction given in an earlier judgment fixing the members' term at five years, while Justice Hemant Gupta dissented with the minority judgment and had dismissed the petition by the Madras Bar Association which had challenged the provision affecting the terms and conditions of tribunals members....