In the case of appointment of members under Tribunal Rules, 2020, Attorney General for India, KK Venugopal, told the Supreme Court on Friday that when members are appointed to Tribunals, they will be reappointed after the end of their four years’ tenure.
The Court was hearing arguments on the petition filed by the Madras Bar Association assailing the Tribunal Rules of 2020 for being in the teeth of the principles of judicial independence and the separation of powers. One of the points of contention in the petition is that the new Rules provide for a four-year tenure for the members appointed to the Tribunals.
Senior Counsel Arvind Datar, who is representing the Madras Bar Association (MBA) in this matter, explained to the Court that the recommendation from the Bar is that the tenure ought to be fixed at five years in line with the previous judicial pronouncements on this aspect.
He said, This figure of four years is not only in violation of the Supreme Court’s precedents in judgments of SP Sampat Kumar as well as Rojer Mathew, it will also disincentivise lawyers from seeking appointment, it was contended by the petitioning association.
“I would submit on behalf of the Bar that experience of 25 years would disincentivize lawyers to leave their practice to join the Tribunal for 4 years whereas if the experience is fixed for 15 years, it will attract more applicants.”
As such, along with an increase in the tenure from four years to five years, Datar also proceeded to make a case for reduction in the qualification for eligible candidates from 25 years of substantial experience to 10 or 15 years of experience in Tribunals.
The Centre’s position as regards these points is that with an experience requirement of 25 years, a lawyer ordinarily would become eligible to seek appointment around the age of 48 years in Tribunals. The appointee would then be eligible for reappointment after four years’ tenure subject to the condition that there are no adverse findings against this member.
The appointee would be eligible for reappointments till the age of superannuation prescribed, the AG said while explaining the rationale. Moreover, the AG also urged the Court to take his submission on the aspect of reappointment on record in Tribunals.
“My statement may be recorded on behalf of the government, I have instructions, that there will be reappointment after four years”
The hearing and will resume when the Bench of this combination is scheduled to assemble next as the hearing is part heard.