Reforming the Tribunals Framework in India: An Interim Report

Reports by Judicial Reform · June 11, 2018
Author(s): Arijeet Ghosh, Diksha Sanyal, Raunaq Chandrashekhar and Reshma Sekhar

Tribunals form an important parallel structure for dispute resolution alongside regular courts. By involving expert members, administrative and logistical support from the executive, and specialised procedures, tribunals promise a speedy and more technical resolution of disputes under certain statutes. Unfortunately, despite its intentions, tribunals have often replicated some of the problems our judiciary suffers from and then some. Apart from issues such as rising pendency and inadequate funds, the constitution of tribunals often toes the line of judicial independence by an overemphasised role of the executive. Despite clear tests for constitutionality laid down in the Supreme Court, the reality of how tribunals operate is far from ideal. With non-uniform systems of appointments, removal, service conditions, etc. coupled with a larger say given to the executive, which is a frequent litigant before these fora, the framework of central tribunals leave much to be desired. While past Law Commission Reports and judicial pronouncements have tried to capture the essence of these issues, the true extent of the problems are often expressed in limited measure. Similarly, recommendations to improve this framework are often somewhat broad, with little emphasis given to specifics.

In this interim report, we examine the tribunals framework and offer a comprehensive statutory analysis of Acts, rules, and regulations, alongside a critical analysis of constitutional jurisprudence regarding tribunals. This captures the true extent of problems across the tribunals space. Furthermore, we construct an alternative to the present framework, by exploring a rationalised scheme of tribunal mergers and by fleshing out the organisational structure and functioning of a National Tribunals Commission to oversee this framework. This interim report hopes to offer the foundation for a more constructive discourse around tribunal reforms.

Download the full Report- Reforming the Tribunals Framework in India: An Interim Report

About Arijeet Ghosh:

About Diksha Sanyal:

Diksha was a Research Fellow at Vidhi and was engaged with the Justice, Access, and Lowering Delays in India (JALDI) Project. She graduated from NUJS in 2016 and thereafter worked as a litigator and researcher at the Centre for Law and Policy Research, Bangalore. At Bangalore she was involved in constitutional litigation and lawyering in the public interest on issues pertaining to disability rights, the right to education and health, among others. She is interested in feminist and queer jurisprudence, adjudication of socio-economic rights and constitutional theory.

About Raunaq Chandrashekhar:

About Reshma Sekhar:

Reshma is a Research Fellow with the Judicial Reforms team. At Vidhi, her research has been on areas of judiciary that need systematic reform focusing on general issues relating to physical infrastructure of the lower judiciary, training of judges, working of central tribunals, and,specific issues of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court involving case pendency, disposal, court administration and management. Outside her core area of work, she is interested in data design, visualisation and information architecture. Reshma graduated with a B.A.LL.B (Hons.) degree from the National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Cochin in 2015. Prior to joining Vidhi, she worked at Wipro Technologies as an in-house counsel for the Legal and Compliance team. Link to full bio