Plea in Supreme Court against Tribunal Reforms Act
Jairam Ramesh says law, passed without debate, revives ordinance struck down just days earlier by apex court
Rajya Sabha Member Jairam Ramesh on Monday approached the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional provisions of the Tribunal Reforms Act of 2021, which revives an ordinance struck down by the Supreme Court.
Mr. Ramesh said the 2021 Act, which abolishes nine key tribunals, raises a serious threat to judicial independence by giving the government wide powers regarding appointments, service conditions, salaries, etc. of members of key tribunals. He said it was passed without parliamentary debate amidst ruckus in the House. The government is the largest litigant in these tribunals.
The Tribunal Reforms Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha just days after the Supreme Court struck down the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance of 2021. The government brought back, through the Bill, the same provisions in the ordinance which were struck down by the Supreme Court on July 14. This was done without even removing the basis of the judgement, Mr. Ramesh argued.
He contended that the provisions in the 2021 Act were a “transgression of the constitutional limits of Parliament’s legislative power and undermines the power of judicial review and the Supremacy of the Constitution, which are basic features of the Constitution”.
The parliamentarian said the government had repeatedly brought back the provisions giving government wide powers over the tribunals despite the apex court striking them down since 2017.
“The repeated failure of the respondents (government) to comply with the directions of this Court undermine the rule of law, the equal protection of law, the independence of the judiciary, and the principle of separation of powers,” Mr. Ramesh contended.
The MP said the very objective behind the creation of tribunals was to reduce the burden and growing backlog on the judiciary as well as to bring technical expertise to the field of law governed by such tribunals, as alluded to by the Swaran Singh Committee Report of 1976.