Plea In Kerala High Court Seeks Appointment Of Judicial Member To Upcoming Vacancy In State's Real Estate Appellate Tribunal

Update: 2024-05-15 05:10 GMT
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Social Justice Vigilance Forum, a registered society under the Travancore Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955, has approached the Kerala High Court seeking appointment of a Judicial Member in the Kerala State Real Estate Appellate Tribunal due to an expected vacancy that would arise from May 28, 2024. The plea states that if no direction is issued by...

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Social Justice Vigilance Forum, a registered society under the Travancore Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act, 1955, has approached the Kerala High Court seeking appointment of a Judicial Member in the Kerala State Real Estate Appellate Tribunal due to an expected vacancy that would arise from May 28, 2024.

The plea states that if no direction is issued by the Court, then it would result in a prolonged vacancy causing inconvenience to both the litigants and the public at large.

The Division Bench comprising Justice T R Ravi and Justice Harisankar V. Menon sought instructions and adjourned the matter.

The Real Estate (Regulations and Development) Act 2016 was enacted to regulate real estate affairs, to ensure fairness in real estate business and to protect the interests of consumers. The Act was implemented in Kerala on May 01, 2016, and the Kerala State Real Estate Regulatory Authority and Kerala State Real Estate Appellate Tribunal was established.

The plea states that the Kerala State Real Estate Appellate Tribunal established as per notification dated April 17, 2020, consists of a Chairperson and not less than two members, a judicial member and an Administrative/Technical member. Justice P Ubaid, a retired judge of High Court was appointed as the Chairperson and the members were retired District Judge V K Babu Prakash and retired Additional Chief Secretary James Varghese.

The plea states that James Varghese who was the administrative member vacated office on November 27, 2022, and it was only recently that Kuruvila Thomas was appointed as an administrative member. It is alleged that the Government inordinately delayed the appointment of the administrative member because of which the Tribunal was functioning only with the Chairperson and Judicial Member.

The plea states that V K Babu Prakash who is the judicial member is to vacate his office on May 28, 2024, and there is a reasonable likelihood that no Judicial Member would be appointed anytime soon. It is alleged that even though the Government was informed regarding the vacancy in the office, no steps were taken to select a new Judicial Member.

“The absence of the judicial member may drastically affect the functioning of the Tribunal as large number of appeals involving intricate legal questions is pending consideration before the Tribunal”, states the plea.

The petitioner alleges that due to the elections and Model Code of Conduct, the Government is reluctant to issue any order for making any arrangement for appointment of a Judicial Member.

As an interim relief, the plea seeks to retain the present Judicial Member temporarily until a fresh appointment is made.

The plea has been moved by Advocates M.R. Nandakumar M.R., Mayika Sundar, Arjun Anil, Asin V.S., Anna Maria

Case Title: Social Justice Vigilance Forum v State of Kerala

Case Number: WP(C) 17677/2024

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