Daily Answer Writing
18 September 2021

​​​​Q. Recently an issue of vacancies in multiple tribunals has been raised by the Supreme courts of India. In this context, discuss the impact of these vacancies on the economy and the society. (150 Words)

  • Source: The Hindu - Page 6/Editorial: Act and friction
  • GS 2: Quasi judicial bodies


Approach Answer:

Introduction: The Supreme Court of India recently questioned on the unusual delay in filling up vacancies among judicial and administrative members. The Court found that there was cherry-picking among the names chosen by the various Selection Committees. Further the government had introduced a Tribunal reforms ordinance,2021 , which abolished various appellate tribunals.


Advantages of Tribunals

    1. Quicker: These follow simpler procedures and can be free from Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 etc. By bypassing the course of highly cogged up civil courts quick decisions can be made.
    2. Respite to Judiciary: This reduces the case load from already overburdened judiciary.
    1. Expertise: these are especially effective when the subject demand technical expertise. Members drawn from judicial and administrative streams - expertise both in legal and administrative sphere.
    2. Flexible: They do not have to follow any uniform procedure as laid down under the Civil Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act but they have to follow the principles of Natural Justice.
    3. Less expensive: The regular justice system takes time and therefore is expensive.


Impact of vacancies:

    1. Delay: These are constructed only to expedite the process of Justice, which faces delay in civil courts. If there are vacancies the tribunals too may take years. For example, IBC(Insolvency and Bankruptcy code) mandates a time bound process of 270-330 days. However many cases are languishing in NCLTs(national Company law tribunals) for years.
    2. Poor functioning: The over-burdening of a few benches due to vacancy leads to poor functioning. For example, due to over-burden many cases in consumer courts go unheard.
    3. Poor ease of doing business: Delay and poor functioning leads to poor contract reinforcement which leads to poor ease of doing businesses. This hurts the economy in a big way.
    4. Stalling Government functions: For example, The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has 25 vacancies for judicial members and 27 for technical members. Railway Claims Tribunal has a total 25 vacancies. The National Green Tribunal has a total 30 vacancies. Central Administrative Tribunal has a total of 32 vacancies. NCLT has 19 Judicial and 14 technical vacancies. Government departments cannot function without these.
    5. Rotting system: Recently, Chief Justice Ramana read out in open court the details of over 200 vacancies in key tribunals, making them redundant in their slow death. Over 15 tribunals did not even have presiding officers.


Steps required to improve the system:

    • National Tribunal commission(NTC): The Supreme Court has repeatedly called for the establishment of a national tribunals commission to make suitable appointments and evaluate the functioning of tribunals.
    • Funding: the tribunals must be adequately funded to boost the efficiency of their performance.
    • Focus on ADR: The Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation, conciliation and arbitration could resolve cases before getting into the tribunals.


Conclusion: There is a case for immediate appointment of the members in the key tribunals for effective functioning of the system. Further the mechanism like NTC seems to be inevitable for addressing the issue in a comprehensive way so that it may not falter in the future.

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