NEW DELHI: With the Centre keen on creating tribunals on every issue, the Supreme Court on Thursday said it was creating a parallel justice dispensing machinery through tribunals.
A Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice R M Lodha, Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice J Chelameswar, Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rohinton Nariman said it was a huge problem to find a right judicial person for tribunals dealing with specific areas of laws.
“Many retired judges who are fit to be in the tribunals are not interested and those who are keen are not suitable,” Chief Justice Lodha said while pointing out how it became difficult for him to find the right person for the Securities Appellate Tribunal. Pointing out that normally the retirement age in tribunals is 68, the court said a (High Court) judge who retired three years ago is not interested in taking up a tribunal’s responsibilities, and is interested in arbitration as it comes with a tonic.
The court’s observations came in the course of the hearing of a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the tribunals which, it was contended, were parallel to and outside the country’s justice delivery system and in breach of the basic structure of the Constitution providing for separation of powers. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi sought to defend the creation of tribunals when the court asked him which enactment conferred the tribunals with exclusive power to decide a substantial question of law and if the validity of that act has been upheld.
“What are you achieving ultimately? You are making a mockery of the procedure,” the court observed as Rohatgi told the court that creation of tribunals has not eclipsed the powers of the High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution.
Rohatgi said tribunals would decide all the questions, including those touching on the Constitution, except the validity of the statute under which they were created.