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[NCDRC]Appointments Made By Centre Pursuant To March 11 Circular Will Be Subject To Court Order:Bombay HC [Read Order]

3 April 2020 4:04 PM GMT
[NCDRC]Appointments Made By Centre Pursuant To March 11 Circular Will Be Subject To Court Order:Bombay HC [Read Order]
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The Bombay High Court through its Nagpur bench has issued notices to the Union of India, the Ministry of Finance, Union Law Ministry, Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the state Government of Maharashtra on a petition challenging the New Tribunal Rules 2020.

The said Rules notified by the Central government last month, prescribe the procedure for appointments, qualifications, eligibility, etc. of Members to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (NCDRC).

The plea filed by Madhukar Ganpat Kukde, President of Citizen Forum for Equality and by and Advocate AM Kazi, President of Consumer Forum Bar Association, Nagpur, alleges that the procedure prescribed thereunder is in violation of the Supreme Court's order in Rojer Mathew v. South India Bank Ltd. & Ors.

Tribunal Rules 2020 : Old Wine In New Bottle?

In the said case, the Supreme Court had stressed on the importance of "judicial impact assessment of tribunals" and had held that the impugned method of appointment had impact on independence of judiciary.

During the course of hearing in the present case, Advocate Dr. Tushar Mandlekar, counsel for the Petitioner, argued before the court that the impugned Rules are derogatory to the Constitutional Principles laid down by the Supreme Court regarding "Separation of Powers" and "Independence of Judiciary" inasmuch as it creates "Search Cum Selection Committee" comprising of two executives of the union government amounting to excessive interference of the executive in appointment of judges in these Tribunals.

Further, he alleged that the impugned Rules create an unreasonable requirement of 25 years of experience of professional working in the field of Commerce, Education, Economics, Business, Law, Administration, etc. aimed at appointing retired bureaucrats to the post of Members in Tribunals.

He also pointed out that the mandatory provision for "one woman judge" has been done away with.

The Petitioner has further pleaded on the following grounds:

  • i)Rules are contrary to the Parent Legislation of Respective Tribunals by which specific eligibility criteria for appointments of members is provided
  • ii)Rules exclude lawyers with experience of 10 to 25 years from making an application to the post of Member Judge where as he is qualified to be appointed as High Court Judge u/a 217 of Constitution of India.
  • iii)There is no requirement of educational qualification as mandated in law.
  • iv)The upper age of retirement of 65 years as Judge in Tribunal is violative of Section 20 and Rules 12-A made u/s Section 30 of Consumer Protection Act 1986 as well as section 184 of Finance Act 2017 in which retirement age is 67 years.
  • v)The "Judicial Member" and "Non-Judicial Member" post are not categorized and one singular definition of Member is introduced creating "unreasonable classification" between applicants who are High Court Judges, District Court Judges and ordinary citizen, therefore violative of Article 14 of Constitution of India.
  • vi)The third category of eligible person other than judges does not mandate any "adjudicatory and educational qualification" but requires on 25 years of working experience.

Inter alia, the petitioners have also challenged the Vacancy circular dated March 11, 2020, inviting applications for the appointment of 6 Post of Members in National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi, based on the impugned Rules.

While issuing notices hence, the High Court bench comprising of Justice AS Chandurkar ordered that any appointments made pursuant to the abovementioned circular, will be subject to the outcome of this petition.

The matter will now be taken up on April 21.

Case Details:

Case Title: Madhukar Ganpat Kukde & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors.

Case No.: WP No. 1573/2020

Quorum: Justice AS Chandurkar

Appearance: Advocate TD Mandlekar and R Malviya (for Petitioner); ASGI Ulhas Aurangabadkar (for Union Government); Advocate Sumant Deopujari (Government Pleader for State) 

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