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'Law Secretary Can't Discharge Quasi-Judicial Functions' : HP High Court Directs State To Constitute State Transport Appellate Tribunal Within A Month

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
23 Dec 2021 8:13 AM GMT
Law Secretary Cant Discharge Quasi-Judicial Functions : HP High Court Directs State To Constitute State Transport Appellate Tribunal Within A Month
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The Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the State Government to constitute an independent State Transport Appellate Tribunal within a month as per Section 89(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act within a month.A bench comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Sabina directed the State Government to notify the constitution of the Tribunal within one month and also provide the...

The Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the State Government to constitute an independent State Transport Appellate Tribunal within a month as per Section 89(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act within a month.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Sabina directed the State Government to notify the constitution of the Tribunal within one month and also provide the paraphernalia including building, necessary staff and other infrastructure, as per the workload available with the Tribunal, within a period of one month thereafter.

As to who should be posted as Presiding Officer in the Tribunal and whether one Presiding Officer of the Tribunal should be given additional charge of another Tribunal, would be a matter to be decided by the High Court on the administrative side once the regular Tribunal is constituted by the State Government in consultation with the High Court

The Court had passed directions in 2020 disapproving the practice of Secretary to the Department of Law discharging the functions of the Appellate Tribunal.

In its order passed on March 5, 2020, the Court had observed: "...until and unless power is conferred on an Authority, it cannot be said to be an Authority for the purpose of discharging the duties of Appellate Tribunal. The Secretary (Law) has to discharge his administrative duties as Secretary (Law) to the Government and in no way, can be considered as an Appellate Tribunal for the purpose of entrusting the powers of an Appellate Tribunal under the Motor Vehicles Act."

Similar observations were made in an order passed in 2019 as well.

The Court expressed surprise that the State Government has not notified the Appellate Tribunal despite the observation made by the Court.

"It is quite surprising that the State Government, despite specific orders repeatedly passed by this Court, has failed to send the proposal for setting up independent Tribunal. In subsequent orders, this Court has taken note of the fact that the State Government has not so far taken any decision to set up an independent State Transport Appellate Tribunal and has been dillydallying the matter for the last four years. This Court in its earlier orders dated 26.08.2019 and 05.03.2020 clearly observed that the Law Secretary cannot discharge the quasi-judicial functions of the Tribunal and rightly so because for him to preside over the Tribunal while simultaneously working as Law Secretary of the State could give rise to conflict of interest because he may have to in that capacity deal with matter involving interest of State".

The Principal Secretary (Law) informed that at present about 101 cases are pending for adjudication before the State Transport Appellate Tribunal.

The Court passed the order in a writ petition filed by Himachal Parivahan Mazdoor Sangh in 2018. The petitioner highlighted that the Law Secretary was not able to decide the appeals filed before the Appellate Tribunal on account of his administrative work.

Click here to read/download the order

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