Supreme Court Asks Govt To Fill Up Vacancies Or Scrap 15 Tribunals

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday lashed out at the Centre for rendering 15 major tribunals defunct by not filling a large number of vacancies of presiding officers, judicial and technical members for long and gave a 10-day time to “clearly specify whether it wanted to continue tribunals or close them down”.

Pointing out the vacancies of 20 presiding officers, 110 judicial members, 111 technical members in tribunals, a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Surya Kant said, “Our own suspicion is that some lobbies are working to ensure these vacancies are not filled… We do not know what is the stand of the government on this sorry state of affairs.”

It asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta to inform the court in 10 days about filling up of vacancies, for which statutory selection committees headed by SC judges have recommended names long ago. The tribunals include Armed Forces Tribunal, National Green Tribunal, DRT, CESTAT, ITAT, TDSAT, NCLT, NCLAT and Central Administrative Tribunal. It posted the matter for further hearing on August 16.

On a PIL filed by advocate Amit Sahni, the CJI-led bench also lashed out at the finance ministry for its failure to set up the important CGST Appellate Tribunal more than four years after the CGST Act came into force.

“So many orders passed by the GST authority or revisional authority are not dispatched for the reason that the aggrieved persons would then be bound by the 90-day limitation period for filing appeals before the appellate authority, which does not exist. So, the finance ministry passed an administrative order on December 3, 2019 waiving off limitation period because of nonconstitution of the appellate tribunal. What is this? I do not understand,” the CJI said.

(With inputs from agencies)