A PIL was filed before the Supreme Court by The Madras Bar Association (MBA). It has challenged the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2020 for contravening the principle of separation of powers.
These Tribunal Rules, 2020 are also ex-facie against the decisions of the Supreme Court, particularly Rojer Mathew v. South Indian Bank Ltd. The petition also stated that the Tribunal Rules 2020 also pose a threat to the independence of the judiciary and the effective and efficient administration of justice.
The petition is filed through Advocate TVS Raghavendra Sreyas and is drawn by Advocates Rahul Unnikrishnan and Naveen Hegde. The plea is settled by Senior Advocate Arvind Datar.
These came to be assailed in the Rojer Mathew case considering that they were framed under the provisions of the Finance Act, 2017, which itself was challenged before the Supreme Court. In that case, the Court was also considering the question of passage of the Finance Act as a Money Bill.
These established principles of law under Tribunal Rules 2020 laid down through the judgments of the Supreme Court are alleged to have been diluted even in the 2020 Rules, owing to which the Madras Bar Association has assailed them. The petition points out that the Tribunal Rules 2020 provide for non-judicial members to be appointed as presiding officers in some tribunals, there is no provision of judicial dominance in search and selection committees, and that administrative and financial control is given to the executive.
These Rules had provided for terms and conditions of service for members of as many as 19 Tribunals. The Court struck these rules down, the PIL says, “for contravening the principles of separation of powers, diluting the independence of the Judiciary and for being against previous decisions of this Hon’ble Court.”
The petition has prayed that,
“Hence, the Petitioner prays that the Tribunal Rules 2020 ought to be struck down for being arbitrary, unreasonable, against the principles of Separation of Powers and Independence of the Judiciary, and in contravention of previous decisions of this Hon’ble Court.”