Tribunalization in India
- Tribunal is:
- a body of administrative character
- powered with judicial powers to adjudicate on question of law or fact that affects rights of citizens
- has judicial or a quasi-judicial functions
- work in a judicial manner
- Since tribunals follow the principles of natural justice, they do not follow the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 that is commonly followed in Courts.
The necessity of establishing administrative tribunals was recommended by the Swaran Singh Committee appointed by the Parliament.
Categories of Tribunals in India
There are four categories of tribunals in India:
- Administrative bodies exercising quasi-judicial functions, whether as part and parcel of the Department or otherwise
- Administrative adjudicatory bodies which are outside the control of the Department involved in the dispute and hence decide disputes like a judge free from judicial bias
- Example: The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is under the Ministry of Law and not under Ministry of Finance.
- Tribunals under Article 136 in which the authority exercises inherent judicial powers of the State
- Because the functions of the body are considered important over the control, composition and procedure, even Departmental bodies also can be classified as Tribunals
- Tribunals constituted under Article 323A and 323B and having constitutional origin and enjoy the powers and status of a High Court
Partial List of Tribunals in India
- Industrial Tribunals set up under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
- Railway Rates Tribunals set up under Indian Railways Act, 1890
- Income Tax Appellate Tribunal set up under Income-Tax Act, 1961
- Court of Survey set up under Merchant Shipping Act, 1958
- Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal
- Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal
- VAT Tribunal
- Revenue Tribunal
Partial List of Authorities who are not tribunals
- Customs Officer
- Conciliation Officer
- Domestic Tribunal
- Military Tribunal
- Customs Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal
- Private Arbitrator
- Legislative Assembly
- Registrar acting as a Taxing officer
- Zonal Manager of Life Insurance Corporation of India
- Advisory Board under Preventive Detention Laws
- State Government exercising its power to make a reference under the Industrial Dispute Act.
Related Case / Recent Cases / Case Law
- Durga Shankar Mehta Vs Raghuaj Singh, AIR 1954 SC 520: Supreme Court of India said that the expression 'tribunal' according to Article 136 does not mean something as 'court' but includes within it, all adjudicating bodies, provided they are constituted by State and are given judicial powers as distinguished from administrative or legislative functions.
- Bharat Bank Vs Employees of Bharat Bank, AIR 1950 SC 520: Supreme Court has laid down certain characters that a tribunal should possess.
- Kihoto Hollohan vs Sri Zachillu, (1987) 1 Scale 338: Referring to its earlier decision in Harinagar Sugar Mills vs Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, AIR 1961 SC 1669, the Supreme Court has given a set of points to test to determine whether an authority exercising adjudicatory powers is a tribunal or not:
- There is a lis - an affirmation by one party and denial by the other
- The dispute involved decision on the rights and obligations of parties
- The authority is called upon to decide it
- Harinagar Sugar Mills vs Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, AIR 1961 SC 1669: According to the Article 136, Article 226 and Article 227 of the Constitution of India, the terms Court and Tribunal means two different things.
- APHL Conference, Shillong Vs W A Sangma, AIR 1977 SC 2155: Election Commission of India is a tribunal as it was setup by the Constitution and it was empowered with adjudicating powers along with administrative powers.
- ACC vs PN N Sharma, AIR 1965 SC 1595: Tribunal has some, but not all, tapping powers of the Court
- L Chandra Kumar vs Union of India, AIR 1997 SC 1125: In regard to tribunals, the Supreme Court of India held that the clause of Article 323A that excludes the jurisdiction of High Courts and Supreme Court under Articles 226 / 227 and 32 of the Constitution is unconstitutional.
- Ankit Steel, Indore vs Bank of India, Indore, 11 (2005) BC 534 (MP)
- Provisions of Order 47, Rule 1 of CPC, apply to cases decided by Tribunal and Appellate Tribunal
- Appellate Tribunal are to entertain review application like civil courts.
- Mallappa Murigeppa Sajjan vs State, AIR 1980 Kant 53: Karnataka High Court held the State Government cannot suspend the working of a tribunal.
- P Satyanarayana vs Land Reforms Tribunal, AIR 1980 AP 149: The Andhra Pradesh High Court held that in the absence of any statutory provisions, a tribunal cannot review its own decision.
- Special Tribunals, (Supplementary Provisions) Act, 1946
- Special Tribunals (supplementary Provisions) Repeal Act, 2004
- Companies Tribunal (Abolition) Act, 1967
- Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985
- Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Act, 2006
- Customs and Excise Revenues Appellate Tribunal Act, 1986
- Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987
- National Environment Tribunal Act 1995
- National Tax Tribunal Act, 2005
- National Tax Tribunal (Amendment) Act, 2007
- National Green Tribunal Act, 2010