QUE) The ‘tribunalisation’ of justice is driven by the recognition that it would be cost-effective, accessible and give scope for utilising expertise in the respective fields. In the light of this statement, evaluate the justice delivery in India through tribunals. (250 Words)
Introduction: Tribunal is a quasi-judicial body established in India by an Act of Parliament or State Legislature to resolve disputes that are brought before it. They are formed under Articles 323-A(Administrative tribunals) and 323-B(other tribunals), which were inserted through the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 on the recommendation of Swaran Singh Committee.
These bodies have specialization in their respective fields such as:
Powers of a Tribunal:
Advantages of Tribunals
a. Simple Procedures - Quick: Free from Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 but vested with powers of Civil Court and bound by principles of natural justice.
b. Respite to Judiciary: This reduces the case load from already overburdened judiciary.
c. 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
d. 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.
e. Less expensive: The regular justice system takes time and therefore is expensive.
Limitations of the Tribunals
a. Against SEPARATION OF POWERS - Tribunalisation is encroachment of judicial branch by executive. Administrative Adjudication is Deviation from Rule of Law
b. Against PRINCIPLE OF JUSTICE - In-house tribunals may be biased towards the parent organization. Further, these dependent on Executive for funding and appointments
c. No Uniform code of procedure: It follows its own laws and procedures.
d. Little experience in judicial proceedings: Handled by administrators and technical heads.
e. Limitations of Powers: They don’t enjoy the same independence from Executive as Courts and lack adequate infrastructure
f. Often deprived of experts: Often Tribunals are chaired by retired judges appointed by government - Present judges may favor government in court cases for post-retirement job. In Chandra Kumar case, Supreme court said that appeals of tribunals to HCs - defeats the whole purpose of reducing judiciary burden
Conclusion: Tribunals perform vital function in the efficient justice delivery in the country. This makes it necessary to reform tribunals in structure and functioning. It must be provided greater autonomy and Independent Appointment Committee.