“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.”
The Central Administrative Tribunal had been established under Article 323 – A of the Constitution (by 42nd constitution amendment act 1976) for adjudication of disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or other authorities under the control of the Government. Under the provisions of this article, administrative tribunals act, 1985 was enacted.
- The Administrative Tribunal is distinguishable from the ordinary courts with regard to its jurisdiction and procedure.
- It exercises jurisdiction only in relation to the service matters of the parties covered by the Act.
- It is also free from the shackles of many of the technicalities of the ordinary Courts.
- The procedural simplicity of the Act can be appreciated from the fact that an aggrieved government employee can also appear personally before the Tribunal.
- The Tribunal is guided by the principles of natural justice in deciding cases and is not bound by the procedure, prescribed by the Civil Procedure Code.
Over a period of time central administrative tribunal has gradually evolved into an independent judicial authority.
- The Central Administrative Tribunal is empowered to frame its own rules of procedure and practice.
Under the said provision of the Act, the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987 and Central Administrative Tribunal Rules of Practice, 1993 have been notified to ensure smooth functioning of the Tribunal.
2. The Tribunal has been conferred with the power to exercise the same jurisdiction and authority in respect of contempt of itself as a High Court.
3. Delhi High Court has said it does not have the jurisdiction to entertain criminal contempt reference received from the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and remitted back the matter to the tribunal. It said the CAT has exclusive jurisdiction to entertain such contempt proceedings.
4. CAT is acting against the decisions of the constitutional bodies like state public service commission. Eg: CAT reversed the decision of Karnataka Public Services Commission
5. The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has, in an extraordinary move, taken a swipe at Delhi high court for directing it to swiftly decide a matter that was originally pending before the tribunal.
In its order, the tribunal indicated that such an order was “unwarranted” and against dignity of the judicial process and judicial functionaries.
However, it still suffers from few limitations compared to judiciary.
- No complete autonomy:
Initially the decision of the Tribunal could be challenged before Honʼble Supreme Court by filing Special Leave Petition.
However, after the Supreme Court’s decision in L. Chandra Kumar ʼ s case, the orders of Central Administrative Tribunal are now being challenged by way of Writ Petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution before respective High Court in whose territorial jurisdiction the Bench of the Tribunal is situated.
2. Tribunal members do not enjoy powers like judges who hold constitutional posts.
3. Functioning of Administrative tribunals suffer from lack of autonomy especially in terms of appointment and funding administrative tribunals.
In the interest of better justice delivery, their traditional structures and methods of functioning can be reformed. Increasing the number of judges, filling the existing vacancy, use of technology to bring efficiency in administration of justice can be the way forward.