With a decision on validity of amendments to the Finance Act pending a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra has extended the tenure of President and other members of National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), till fresh appointments are made to ensure its smooth functioning.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud passed the order on a petition filed by one Kudrat Sandhu
“Heard Mr. Sidharth Luthra, learned senior counsel for the petitioner and Mr. K.K. Venugopal, learned Attorney General for the Union of India. It has been agreed to by Mr. K.K. Venugopal that the President of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) shall be allowed to continue till 30.6.2018 and the other members shall continue till fresh appointments are made by the Central Government. The fresh appointments of members shall be made with quite promptitude. Let the matter be listed in the third week of July, 2018”.
SC had on December 11 last year extended till March 15 the tenure of the NCDRC members and later modified the order and extended it to May 31.
The Centre had consented to the extensions on the ground that judicial work should not get affected.
Appearing for the petitioner, Luthra submitted that either appointments be made in the NCDCR or the tenure of existing members and the President to be extended till their successors were appointed.
AG K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, agreed with Luthra's submission and told the court that the process to fill in the vacancies in the commission was underway.
The appointments in various tribunals were stalled due to the pendency of the petitions in the apex court challenging the Finance Act and the Tribunal, Appellate and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other conditions of Service of Members) Rules, which deal with appointments, tenure and other service conditions of office-bearers of such panels.
A batch of pleas, including from the National Green Tribunal Bar Association, EPF Tribunal Bar Association and Kudrat Sandhu, have alleged that the newly-amended Finance Act has changed the search, selection and removal process of members and presiding officers of tribunals.
The pleas have challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the 'Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (qualifications, experience and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017'.