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'Centre Emasculating Tribunals': SC Raps Govt Over Delay in Filling Vacancies

The Supreme Court also censured the Centre for clearing the Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021.

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The Supreme Court on Monday, 6 September, pulled up the central government over the delay in filling the vacancies in Tribunals, saying that it was "emasculating" the tribunals. It also censured the Centre for clearing the Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021, which contains provisions that had previously been struck down by the court.

"There is no respect to judgments of this court. You are testing our patience! How many persons were appointed? You said some persons were appointed?" Chief Justice of India NV Ramana questioned the Centre during the hearing, LiveLaw reported.

The Tribunal Reforms Act, which aims to do away with certain Tribunals, has attempted to re-enact some of the same provisions, relating to the tenure of service of members, that had been struck down by the Supreme Court previously.

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The bench, which comprised Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice L Nageswara Rao in addition to the CJI, observed: "The Tribunals Act is virtually a replica of the provisions struck down by this Court in the Madras Bar Association."

'Centre Emasculating Tribunals': Justice L Nageswara Rao

The apex court further noted that the work of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has been delayed due to the vacancies in staffing of members, creating a dire situation.

"You are emasculating tribunals by not filling vacancies," Justice L Nageswara Rao said during the hearing, Bar and Bench reported.

Saying that the Supreme Court is "deeply upset" with the situation, the CJI was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench:

"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 3 options."

Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta informed the court that the Ministry of Finance has directed for the final decision on the appointments to be take in two weeks.

The bench, however, listed the matter for next Monday and directed that the appointments be made by then.

(With inputs from LiveLaw and Bar and Bench)

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