“The Central Administration Tribunal which was established for redressal of grievances and complaints by or against central government employees nowadays is exercising its powers as an independent judicial authority.” Explain. (10 Marks)

Mentors Comments:

  • It’s a direct question.
  • In the intro, discuss the establishment of CAT and just discuss some of the backgrounds like when was it formed and relevant articles and acts related to it.
  • Then jump to the main body of the answer. In the 1st part, discuss why it was established and its functions and powers.
  • In 2nd part explain how it has grown as an independent judicial authority over time. What are the features and powers of the body which have rendered it a more independent look and how using those powers in recent times, CAT has established itself at par with other judicial bodies?
  • You can mention how deep it has started going into the cases and how it has been directing state as well as central governments for the strict implementations of its orders. You can quote some recent cases as well.
  • If you have some space and time left, then give a couple of points in the way forward on how to make sure a better working of CAT.
  • Otherwise, end with a proper conclusion.

Answer:

Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 provides for the establishment of Central Administrative Tribunal and State Administrative Tribunals. Central Administration Tribunal (CAT) exercises original jurisdiction in relation to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services. The Members are drawn, both from judicial as well as administrative streams Lately, it has been donning the role of judicial authority.

Functions of the CAT:

  • The tribunal adjudicates disputes and complaints with respect to Recruitment and Conditions of Service of the persons appointed to the Public Services and Posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or any State or of any other Local Authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.
  • Apart from above the Tribunal also has jurisdiction on the employees of 208 Public Sector Undertakings/ Organizations notified by the Government.

How CAT is exercising its powers as an independent judicial authority and why it might be an issue:

  • The CAT has, recently, taken swipe at Delhi HC for directing it to swiftly decide a matter that was originally pending before the tribunal.
  • The CAT took a dim view of the HC giving directions to it in a case that was pending before the tribunal but was heard briefly by the court during June vacations & then sent back.
  • In its order, the tribunal indicated that such an order was “unwarranted” & against the dignity of the judicial process & judicial functionaries.
  • Recently, CAT has also held that government employees on the verge of superannuation should not be disturbed merely because they have stayed for a considerably long period at a particular place.
  • The apex tribunal said that such a benefit should be extended to superannuating employees to retire peacefully at a particular place after years of dedicated service.
  • In cases praying for regularization of services, the Tribunal usually goes deep into the policy on the regularization of the government in specific cases. 
  • It advises the concerned Ministry or Department on how to change the policy on the regularization of services, as such cases were filed mainly by impoverished Group-C employees. 
  • In cases concerning revoking of suspension orders, the Tribunal did interfere with the decisions taken by the relevant Ministry or Department.
  • Administrative adjudication is a negation of Rule of Law.  
  • Central Administrative Tribunal, with its separate laws and procedures often made by themselves, puts a serious limitation upon the principles of Rule of Law.  
  • Tribunalisation is seen as an encroachment of the judicial branch by the government.
  • The justification of expert adjudication by CAT disappears as this is presided over by retired high court judges.
  • Appeals against CAT order go straight to Supreme Court
  • A uniform code of procedure in administrative adjudication is not there.  
  • At times they adopt summary procedures to deal with cases coming before them.

Way Forward: 

  • Given that tribunalisation is meant to remove the loads from Courts, challenge to orders of Tribunals should be an exception and not a matter of routine.  
  • In-Service Matters, no appeal will be filed in cases where: 
    • a) The matter pertains to an individual grievance without any major repercussion; 
    • b) The matter pertains to a case of pension or retirement benefits without involving any principle and without setting any precedent or financial implications.  
  • Further, proceedings will not be filed in service matters merely because the order of the Administrative Tribunal affects a number of employees. Appeals will not be filed to espouse the cause of one section of employees against another. 
  • Proceedings will be filed challenging orders of Administrative Tribunals only if:
    • a) There is a clear error of record and the finding has been entered against the Government. 
    • b) The judgment of the Tribunal is contrary to a service rule or its interpretation by a High Court or the Supreme Court. 
    • c) The judgment would impact the working of the administration in terms of the morale of the service, the Government is compelled to file a petition; or, 
    • d) If the judgment will have recurring implications upon other cadres or if the judgment involves huge financial claims being made. 

In the interest of better justice delivery, their traditional structures and methods of functioning can be reformed. In the interest of maintaining the rule of law in society and to preserve individual freedom, that there should be some kind of judicial control over CAT. Tribunals themselves are better positioned to gauge their own administrative requirements. Therefore providing power to tribunals to create or sanction post

 

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Discussion is incomplete. The focus of the question on how it has expanded its jurisdiction is missing. Initial part was good. Intro was good. The discussion on role was apt as well. Way forward can also be more comprehensive.

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