Ground Report | New Delhi: Supreme Court’s warning to Modi government; The Supreme Court on Monday warned the Modi government that if the 250 vacant posts in different tribunals of the country are not filled soon, then the court’s defamation action will be initiated against it.
Supreme Court’s warning to Modi government
A special bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said that the Center is looking after the country’s Supreme Court and it is taking a “test of patience” of the Supreme Court. “Instead of making appointments to these tribunals, the government is bringing in new laws which are nothing but copies of those laws which were earlier struck down by the Supreme Court,” the court said.
A provision has been made to empower the Center to appoint and remove quasi-judicial members in different tribunals through a hurriedly introduced law in Parliament last month.
Retired judges are appointed to tribunals or quasi-judicial bodies like National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, National Green Tribunal, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal to reduce the work pressure on regular courts on subject-specific issues.
On Monday, the CJI said: “You (government) are bent on not respecting the decision of this court. It is very clear. Now we have only three options left.
“A law or whatever act you have made and directing you to proceed with the appointments. Or, shut down the Tribunal and give power to take up matters. Third is that we ourselves appoint people to the Tribunal. We may consider initiating proceedings for contempt of court.”
The bench, comprising Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud vented his anger by noting that despite his earlier instructions, the government did not take adequate steps to fill up the vacancies. Both Justices Rao and Chandrachud are also members of the collegium.
Fresh petition filed by Congress leader
The court on Monday issued a formal notice to the central government on a fresh petition filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh challenging the constitutional validity of various provisions of the Tribunal Reform Act.
The act has already been challenged by the Madras Bar Association, which has argued that the law is an attempt to thwart earlier decisions of the apex court upholding the independence of the tribunal.
Justice Chandrachud referred to a provision in the new law under which a person below the age of 50 years is ineligible to be appointed as the chairman or member of a tribunal. Justice Chandrachud said that the amended provision was contrary to the judgments of the Supreme Court in the earlier judgment.
Justice Ramana told Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre: “There is no respect for the decisions of this court. it is unfortunate. Last time you said that you have appointed some members to the Tribunal. How many have you hired? Show us the details. “
The bench refused to adjourn the matter for two weeks as demanded by Mehta. The CJI pointed out that the special bench with senior judges was constituted and with repeated adjournments, the time of the court could not be wasted.
“You are testing the patience of this court…” Some appointments will be made in the next two weeks, Justice Ramana told Mehta after the Solicitor-General read out a government notification.
On August 16 too, the apex court had rapped the Center through the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalization and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2021 without a proper debate in Parliament. The opposition has been complaining that bills are being passed without any discussion in the House.