Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 27
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Centre to constitute a National Tribunals Commission (NTC) to act as an independent body to supervise appointments and functioning of tribunals across India.
The NTC would also take care of the administrative and infrastructural needs of tribunals, a Bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao said, adding, it would enhance the image of tribunals and instil confidence in the minds of litigants.
Until NTC was constituted, a separate wing in the Ministry of Finance shall be established to cater to the requirements of tribunals, it said.
The order came delivered on petitions challenging the validity of the ‘Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualification, Experience and Other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020.
The Bench said there was an “imperative need” to ensure that tribunals discharged the judicial functions without any interference of the executive whether directly or indirectly.
It said that till amendments are carried out in 2020 Rules, the search-cum-selection committees should comprise of Chief Justice of India or his nominee as the chairperson and others, including the outgoing chairman or president of the tribunal in case of appointment of chairman or president and secretary to the Ministry of Law and Justice.
“The chairpersons, vice-chairpersons and the members of the tribunal shall hold office for a term of five years and shall be eligible for reappointment. Rule 9(2) of the 2020 Rules shall be amended to provide that the vice-chairman, vice-chairperson and vice-president and other members shall hold office till they attain the age of sixty-seven years,” the Bench said.
It said that the Centre shall make serious efforts to provide suitable housing to the chairman or president and other members of the tribunals and if it is not possible, the government shall pay the chairman or president and vice-chairman or vice-president an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh per month as house rent allowance and Rs 1.25 lakh per month for other members with effect from January 1, 2021.
The court said the 2020 Rules shall be amended to make lawyers with an experience of at least 10 years eligible for appointment as judicial members in the tribunals and while considering their appointment, the search-cum-selection committee shall take into account the experience of the advocate at the bar and their specialisation in the relevant branches of law.
It directed the Centre to make appointments to tribunals in three months from the date on which the search-cum-selection committee made recommendations.