New Delhi: Expressing its discontent with the vacancies in the tribunals, the Supreme Court on Wednesday February 16 said some “knee-jerk” appointments were made by the Centre to fill up vacancies across the country, and the bureaucracy has been taking up the issue “lightly”.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana observed that after a few appointments made initially, nothing substantial happened.
The bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli, said the court is getting requests for the extension of time for the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) matters etc.
“Some knee-jerk appointments took place and nothing happened after that. We do not know the fate of members and many are retiring,” it said, emphasising that the bureaucracy is taking the issue lightly.
Earlier, the apex court had made some strong observations in connection with vacancies in tribunals across the country. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal contended before the court that he could show the list of vacancies and the steps taken to fill them up. After a brief hearing in the matter, the top court scheduled the matter for further hearing after two weeks.
In August last year, the top court had cited data to show that around 250 posts are lying vacant in various key tribunals and appellate tribunals across the country. The bench read out the long list of vacancies across the tribunals and added that 19 presiding officers, 110 judicial members, and 111 technical numbers are pending in all the tribunals.
“This is the scenario of the tribunal. We do not know what is the stand of the government…”, said the Chief Justice.
The top court had said the delay by the Centre in filling up vacancies in various tribunals is effectively crippling their functioning and leaving people without legal remedies.
“The impression we are gathering is that it appears the bureaucracy does not want the tribunals. The Centre should clear its stand whether it really, really wants to continue the tribunals or close them down.”
Later in September, last year, the Central government had informed the top court that 84 appointments have been in six tribunals including the ITAT and the NCLT and no recommendations of the Search cum Selection Committees (SCSC) is pending then.