Contribution of Tribunals in Delivering Justice

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The creation of tribunals was prompted by the need to resolve the situation brought on by the backlog of cases in various Courts, as well as by the necessity to lessen the workload of courts and speed up judgements.

There are 91,885 cases in various Indian High Courts that have been waiting for more than 30 years as of June 6, 2021. The Supreme Court has 67,898 active cases as of May 1, 2021.  The Law Commission of India (2017) stated that court backlogs cause delays in justice delivery, which reduces the effectiveness of the legal system.

Tribunals are quasi-judicial organizations established to handle issues like resolving administrative or tax-related disputes. It was created to provide quick, affordable, and to provide disputes in a variety of areas. They were introduced in 1985 but were not initially a part of the Indian Constitution.

The Tribunals were established to speed up decision-making, minimize court workload, and create a venue that would be staffed by attorneys and specialists in the fields covered by the Tribunal.

The tribunals have a crucial and unique function in the administration of justice. They relieve the already taxed courts of some of their burden. They hear cases involving the military, the environment, taxes, and administrative matters.

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Industrial Tribunal:

The Employment and Industrial Relations Act of 2002 governs it. The tribunal may convene private sessions in addition to public hearings. The parties are requested for Statements of Cases before being given the chance to present their arguments orally. The Act was passed to establish rules for the avoidance and resolution of labour disputes as well as to give workers certain protections. By guaranteeing that there is the greatest amount of economic and social justice, the legislation seeks to reduce conflicts between labour and management.

  • In 1947, the Industrial Disputes Act became operative. The Act was passed to establish rules for the avoidance and resolution of labour disputes as well as to give workers certain protections. The state of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the entirety of India are covered by the law. Arbitration is encouraged when there are issues involving employers and employees.
  • Employment Tribunal [Section 7A]: The appropriate Government may establish one or more Industrial Tribunals by publishing a notice in the Official Gazette to hear industrial disputes involving any matter, whether one that is listed in the Second Schedule or the Third Schedule and to carry out any other duties that may be delegated to them under this Act.

Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT)

The income tax appellate tribunal was established in January 1941, ITAT is a quasi-judicial organisation that focuses on handling appeals involving the Direct Taxes Acts. 

The ITAT's decisions are final, and the only time the High Court may hear an appeal is when there is a significant legal issue that needs to be resolved. The Central Government in the first instance, appointed four members, on a tenure basis, on five-year contracts.

Various factors contributed to this development, some of which may be attempted to be listed below.

  • The first of these was the transformation of what was then British India into the present-day Indian Union. The Tribunal initially had authority over the British Indian provinces. When the country was divided, several of the provinces and portions of provinces were transferred to Pakistan and hence were not subject to its laws.
  • The optimistic idea of integrating two types of technical expertise in the selection of members rather than hiring just judicial officials for the posts was the second justification.
  • Primarily, the Tribunal was set up to dispose of appeals arising from assessments under the Income-tax Act.

Also Read: Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952

Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal:

Operating under the Ministry of Finance, CESTAT is a quasi-judicial body that handles appeals against orders and judgements made by the Central Excise Act of 1944 and the Customs Act of 1962.

The President is in charge of CESTAT's headquarters, which are located in New Delhi. In Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Chandigarh, and Hyderabad, the Tribunal has regional benches.

To hear appeals against decisions made by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise and Service Tax under the Customs Act of 1962, the Central Excise Act of 1944, and the Finance Act of 1994, CESTAT was established.

Additionally, it has appellate authority over Anti-Dumping issues. Orders issued by the Designated Authority in the Ministry of Commerce are appealed before a Special Bench presided over by the President of CESTAT.

Appellate Tribunal under Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Act:

The act provides the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Act,1976 Appellate Tribunal under Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Act.

Depriving those involved in such operations and manipulations of illegitimate profits is important to effectively prohibit smuggling activities and foreign exchange manipulations, which harm the national economy.

Administrative Tribunal: 

Administrative tribunals are quasi-judicial in nature. Like other courts, they have the authority to call witnesses, administer oaths, and require the submission of documents, among other things. The rulings of such tribunals are subject to the writs of prohibition and certiorari. They are autonomous organisations that are not interfered with by the administration.

In India, there are numerous tribunals. There are 17 Benches among the Central Administrative Tribunals.

Railway Claims Tribunal:

This tribunal’s main characteristics are the reorganisation of the Railways into zones with a General Manager for each zone. The central government had the authority to set the costs for transporting people and goods. 

  • The Railways maintained a provision for compensation in the event of loss, damage to cargo, etc., as well as in the event of accidental fatalities and injuries.
  • When the consignor/consignees, passengers, or their representatives are dissatisfied with the railroad administration's actions and choose to make claims for reimbursement for lost or damaged booked goods, they do so in court. Currently, claims commissioners resolve compensation claims for passenger deaths, injuries, losses, etc. in train accidents.

Securities Appellate Tribunal:

The Securities Appellate Tribunal is a statutory body located in Mumbai, created by Section 15K of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992, to hear appeals against orders made by the Securities and Exchange Board of India or by an adjudicating officer under the Act, to decide on those appeals, and to exercise the jurisdiction, powers, and authority granted to the Tribunal by or under this Act or any other law currently in effect.

It has the same authority as a civil court does. Additionally, anyone who feels wronged by the SAT's decision or order may file an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Debt Recovery Tribunal:

Debt Recovery Tribunals were created to make it easier for banks and other financial organisations to collect an unpaid debt from their clients. After the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act (RDBBFI), 1993, was passed, DRTs were established.

  • The Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions (RDDBFI) Act, 1993, as well as the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interests (SARFAESI) Act, 2002, are both enforced by the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT).
  • To provide complete justice, the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) has full authority to issue detailed orders and to go beyond the Civil Procedure Code. A Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) has the authority to consider set-offs, counterclaims, and cross-actions.
  • A Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) cannot, however, examine complaints about damages, inadequate services, contractual breaches, or criminal negligence on the part of the lenders. A Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) is also prohibited from opining on matters outside of the list that is currently before it or its purview.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT):

By the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, of 1997, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was founded on February 20th, 1997.

The TRAI's objectives are:

  • The goal of TRAI is to foster the circumstances necessary for the country's telecommunications industry to develop.
  • The Central Government once had control over telecom services regulation, including the fixation/revision of tariffs.
  • It also tries to create an environment of fair and open policies that encourages equal opportunity and supports healthy competition.

National Companies Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT):

It was established to hear appeals against the National Company Law Tribunal's rulings under Section 410 of the 2013 Companies Act. After consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the President of the Tribunal, the Chairperson, and the Judicial Members of the Appellate Tribunal are chosen.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016's Section 61 designates the NCLAT as the Appellate Tribunal for considering appeals against orders made by the NCLT(s) (IBC). For appeals against decisions made by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India under Sections 202 and 211 of the IBC, NCLAT serves as the appellate tribunal.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has established eleven benches in the first phase, including one principal bench in New Delhi and 10 other benches in the following cities: Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Ahmadabad, and Kolkata.

At various sites, these Benches were led by the President, 16 members of the judicial branch, and 9 members of the technical branch. As a result, additional members joined, and benches were established in Cuttack, Jaipur, Kochi, Amravati, and Indore.

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The National Consumer Dispute Resolution:

The National Consumer Dispute Resolution is a quasi-judicial commission known as the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 was established in 1988. A Supreme Court of India judge who is now sitting or has retired is in charge of the commission.

The Act provisions include:

  • According to Section 21 of the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, the NCDRC has the authority to hear complaints worth more than one crore as well as to appeal and review decisions made by State Commissions or District Fora, as the case may be.
  • According to Section 23 of the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, anyone who is unhappy with an NCDRC order may choose to appeal it.

Appellate Tribunal for Electricity:

The APTEL comprises a chairperson who has served as a Chief Justice of a High Court or a Judge of the Supreme Court, one Judicial Member who has served as a judge of the High Court or is qualified to do so, two Technical Members who are experts in the electricity sector, and one Technical Member who is an expert in the petroleum and natural gas sector. 

An expanding membership helps the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) function more effectively.

The regions that the chairperson and members of the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERC) and Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) would represent have been outlined.


Armed Forces Tribunal:

To resolve disagreements and grievances about commissions, appointments, enlistments, and terms of service for individuals covered by the Army Act of 1950, the Navy Act of 1957, and the Air Force Act of 1950.

  • Composition: A judicial member and an administrative member make up each bench.
  • Members of the judiciary are former High Court judges: Administrative Members are retired military personnel who have served in the armed forces and held the rank of Major General or a higher rank for three years or more, or who have served as Judge Advocate Generals (JAG) for at least one year.

Also Read: Right to Private Defence

National Green Tribunal (India):

It is a specialised organisation established under the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010 to dispose of environmental protection and the preservation of forests and other natural resources matters effectively and quickly.

  • With the creation of the NGT, India became the first developing nation and the third country in the world (after Australia and New Zealand) to establish a specialised environmental tribunal.

Within six months after the application or appeal's submission, the NGT is required to render a final decision