Tribunals/Quasi-Judicial Bodies

In India, Tribunals are a part of the Executive branch of the Government which are assigned with the powers and duties to act in judicial capacity for settlement of disputes. Part XIV of the Constitution of India makes provisions for establishment and functioning of the Tribunals in India. They are quasi-judicial bodies that are less formal, less expensive and enable speedy disposal of cases.

There are tribunals for settling various administrative and tax-related disputes, including Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT), National Green Tribunal (NGT) and Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT), among others. Tribunals were added in the Constitution by Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976 as Part XIV-A, which has only two articles viz. 323-A and 323-B. Article 323A provides that a law made by the parliament may provide for establishment of an Administrative Tribunal for the Union and a separate Administrative Tribunal for each state or two or more states. Article 323 B empowers the parliament or state legislatures to set up tribunals for matters other than those mentioned under Article 323A.

Types of Tribunal in India

1. Debt recovery Tribunal

The Debt Recovery Tribunals have been constituted under Section 3 of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions (RDDBFI) Act, 1993. The original aim of the Debts Recovery Tribunal was to receive claim applications from Banks and Financial Institutions against their defaulting borrowers. (DRT) was established for expeditious adjudication and recovery of debts due to banks and financial institutions in order to reduce the non-performing assets of the Banks and Financial Institutions. Prior to the introduction of Debt Recovery Tribunal, petitions had to be filed separately for adjudication of cases and execution proceedings in different courts depending upon their jurisdiction. DRT acts as a single judicial forum for adjudication of cases as well as execution of the decrees passed for recovery of debts due to banks and financial institutions under RDDBFI Act and Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interests (SARFAESI) Act, 2002.

2. National Company law

Tribunal National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is a quasi-judicial body exercising equitable jurisdiction, which was earlier being exercised by the High Court or the Central Government. It has been established by the Central government under section 408 of the Companies Act, 2013 with effect from 1st June 2016. The Tribunal has powers to regulate its own procedures. The establishment of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) consolidates the corporate jurisdiction of the following authorities:

i)Company Law Board

ii) Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction.

iii) The Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction

iv) Jurisdiction and powers relating to winding up restructuring and other such provisions, vested in the High Courts.

3. Consumer Forum

To protect the rights of the consumers in India and establish a mechanism for settlement of consumer disputes, a three-tier redressal forum containing District, State and National level consumer forums has been set up. The District Consumer Forum deals with consumer disputes involving a value of upto Rs. 1 crore. State Commission has jurisdiction in consumer disputes having a value of upto Rs.10 crore. The National Commission deals in consumer disputes above Rs.10 crores, in respect of defects in goods and or deficiency in service. It is important to note that consumer courts do not entertain complaints for alleged deficiency in any service that is rendered free of charge or under a contract of personal service.

4. Motor Accident Claims

Tribunal (MACT) The Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal deals with matters related to compensation of motor accidents victims or their next of kin. Victims of motor accident or legal heirs of motor accident victims or a representing Advocate can file claims relating to loss of life/property and injury cases resulting from Motor Accidents. Motor Accident Claims Tribunal are presided over by Judicial Officers from the State Higher Judicial Service and are under direct supervision of the Hon’ble High Court of the respective state.

5. Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT)

Central administrative Tribunal is a multi-member body to hear on cases filed by the staff members alleging non-observation of their terms of service or any other related matters and to pass judgments on those cases. This Tribunal established in pursuance of the amendment of Constitution of India by Articles 323A.

6. National Green Tribunal (NGT)

National Green Tribunal was established for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation of damages to persons and property and for related matters.

7. Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT)

ITAT is a quasi judicial institution set up in January, 1941 and specializes in dealing with appeals under the Direct Taxes Acts. The orders passed by the ITAT are final, an appeal lies to the High Court only if a substantial question of law arises for determination.

Presently ITAT has 63 Benches at 27 different stations covering almost all the cities having a seat of the High Court

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