Delhi HC Expresses Dismay At The Improper Functioning Of CAT; Urges Centre To Take 'Remedial Steps' [Read Judgment]
The Central Administrative Tribunal has once again came under severe criticism from the Delhi High Court for the manner in which it has been conducting proceedings.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar was dismayed at the manner in which the Tribunal was passing cryptic orders to dispose of applications in a display of "total non-application of mind". Stopping short of ordering audio-video recording of court proceedings of the Tribunal, the Court instead directed the Centre to take remedial steps to fix the "extra ordinary situation" prevailing there.
"We are sorry to say that the Tribunal, at times, is not discharging its statutory obligation. This has been experienced by us in several cases", observed the bench.
The bench said so while hearing a petition of a 24-year-old unemployed youth challenging a CAT order.
The youth was successful in the examination for the post advertised by the Staff Selection Commission in year 2014 . However, the SSC cancelled his candidature on verification by stating that his handwriting and signature was found by the Central Forensics Science Laboratory to be not matching. The SSC entered a finding that the applicant had resorted to unfair means and cancelled his candidature.
When the youth challenged the order of SSC before CAT, a division bench of the Tribunal dismissed his plea by simply relying on the findings of the CFSL.
In his petition before the high court, the youth's counsel, advocate Anunaya Mehta submitted that the Tribunal's order was completely devoid of reasons and that it rejected his plea without examining the issues or taking on record the arguments advanced by him.
Lawyers complain of CAT not recording their submissions
While the high court was hearing the matter, several members of the Bar, who regularly appear before the CAT, ventilated their grievances.
"During the course of hearing, several members of the Bar who regularly appear before the CAT have, in chorus, pleaded that the Tribunal is not recording the submissions of the parties or dealing with them while passing orders. This submission of learned counsels finds reflection in the orders passed by the Tribunal in the present case as well," remarked the high court.
"We are completely dismayed with the manner in which the Tribunal, is, at times, dealing with matters before it. Frequently, we are receiving cryptic orders from the Tribunal, which display total non-application of mind. The Tribunal has been disposing of the Original Applications without due examination and appreciation of the facts and submissions of parties. We fail to understand as to how the Tribunal could have disposed of this matter by merely relying upon the cryptic report of the CFSL, particularly when the same was not even accompanied by the relevant documents, with the relevant marking/portions which the CFSL claims to have examined. The Tribunal has denied a fair opportunity to the petitioner to defend the serious allegation made against him, on the basis of which he has been condemned," noted the bench.
"We are sorry to say that the Tribunal, at times, is not discharging its statutory obligation. This has been experienced by us in several cases. We have earlier as well called upon the Tribunal to undertake deeper scrutiny of cases, since it is the first port of call for the litigant, but it seems our advice has gone unheeded.
"Though we feel like directing audio-video recording of the court proceedings of the Tribunal in the extra ordinary situation prevailing there, in view of the judgments in Vikram Bakshi v. State & Another and Deepak Khosla v. Union of India & Others, we refrain from doing so.
"We direct that the copy of the order be served upon the concerned Minister and the Secretary, Ministry of Personnel Public Grievances and Pensions, New Delhi-respondent no.2 for them to take such remedial steps as may be considered necessary to deal with the situation we have taken note of hereinabove," ordered the bench.
CAT has come under severe criticism in the recent past. Its Chairman had also earned censure from Uttarakhand High Court for making observations against the courts and disobeying its orders.