Provisions in Finance Act reducing tribunal members’ tenure struck down

SC says chairpersons and members will have a full five-year tenure

SC strikes down some provisions in Finance Act

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down provisions, introduced in the Finance Act of 2017 through an Ordinance, which affected the tenure and service conditions of Chairpersons and Members of Tribunals. The Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance of 2021 had amended Section 184 of the Finance Act of 2017 to fix their tenures at four years. A three-judge Bench reversed the law and confirmed that Tribunal Chairpersons and Members would have a full five-year tenure.

“The term of Chairperson of a Tribunal shall be five years or till she or he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier, and the term of Member of a Tribunal shall be five years or till she or he attains the age of 67 years, whichever is earlier,” the Supreme Court confirmed in a 157-page judgment.

The judgment came on an appeal filed by the Madras Bar Association that the ordinance was violative of the rule of separation of powers which forms part of the basic structure of the Constitution. “The Ordinance is liable to be struck down as being violative of another basic feature of the Constitution, i.e., independence of the judiciary,” senior advocate Arvind Datar had argued for the association.

The petitioners had said the ordinance was brought to circumvent a 2020 Supreme Court judgment protecting the appointments and tenures of Tribunal Members and Chairpersons.

However, Attorney General K.K. Venguopal had sought to justify the ordinance, saying “a judgment of a court can be overridden by the legislature”.

“Service conditions of members of tribunals is a policy decision which should be left to the collective decision of the Parliament. Legislative overruling is a permissible exercise as has been held in a number of judgments of this court,” Mr. Venugopal had argued.

Source: Read Full Article