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‘Separation of powers should be kept in mind’: AG defends Tribunals Reforms Act in SC

New Delhi, May 4, 2022- Attorney General K.K. Venugopal on Wednesday told the Supreme Court to keep in mind the concept off separation of powers, while defending The Tribunals Reforms Act, 2021.

He contended before a bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that many top court judgments have gone beyond their judicial ambit, and often it has told the legislature to pass a particular kind of law. “There is a separation of powers and it should be kept in mind…”, said the AG.

Senior advocate Arvind Datar contended that in July last year, the apex court held that certain provisions of the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, were unconstitutional. These provisions were related to terms of services of the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and other tribunal members. In September 6 last year, the apex court termed the provisions in the new law on tribunals “replica” of those, which were struck down.

As the bench, also comprising Surya Kant and Bela M. Trivedi, queried the AG whether the Act would remain valid, since it was identical to the Ordinance, whose provisions were struck down, the AG sought time to make submissions on merits.

Datar contended that the Centre had come out with an Act having identical provisions, which were struck down by another bench of the top court.

The top court also dealt with some application in connection with the tribunals appointment, and queried the Centre over not appointing a member to the Telecom Disputes and Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). The bench pointed out that the name for the TDSAT was cleared by the selection committee and sought reasons which formed the basis for not appointing the applicant to the vacancy notified in May 2020. The Centre submitted a note detailing on names that were pending with the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet.

After hearing arguments, the bench scheduled the matter for further hearing on the validity of the law in July.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by a retired member in the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) alleging his non-selection for the post in TDSAT was completely illegal. (Agency)

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