21 March 2023 5:35 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the notification issued by the Central Government in 2019 to abolish the Odisha Administrative Tribunal. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli dismissed the petition filed by the Odisha Administrative Tribunal Bar Association challenging the Orissa High Court's decision which upheld the abolition of OAT.Conclusions...
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the notification issued by the Central Government in 2019 to abolish the Odisha Administrative Tribunal. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli dismissed the petition filed by the Odisha Administrative Tribunal Bar Association challenging the Orissa High Court's decision which upheld the abolition of OAT.
Conclusions of the judgment :
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud read out the operative portion of the judgment today morning. The judgment has held that Article 323A of the Constitution of India does not preclude the Union Government form abolishing a State Administrative Tribunal, because it is only an enabling power enabling the Union Government to establish an administrative tribunal at its discretion on a request from the State Government.
The power to establish Administrative Tribunal also includes a power to abolish the Tribunal. The Union Government did not become a functus officio after establishing the OAT. Article 323A, which is an enabling power, cannot be construed as a mandatory provision.
The notification 2nd August 2019 which abolished the OAT is not violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, the Court has held. The Court opined that the State Government did not rely on any irrelevant or extraneous factors while requesting the Centre to abolish Tribunal.
The decision to abolish the Tribunal is not absurd or so unreasonable that no reasonable person would have taken it.
The principles of natural justice is also not violated as the class of persons who were affected by the decision to abolish the OAT are not entitled to be heard. The decision is an exercise of administrative power and not a quasi-judicial power.
The notification dated 2nd August 2019 is valid though it is not expressed in the name of the President of India, because non-compliance with Article 77 of the Constitution does not invalidate a notification.
The abolition of OAT is not violative of the fundamental right to access to justice because the Orissa High Court will cases which were pending before the OAT.
The failure of Union Government to carry out judicial impact assessment before the abolition of OAT does not vitiate the decision, because the direction in the Rojer Mathew judgment was of a general nature and did not prohibit the abolition of specific tribunals such as the OAT in the absence of judicial impact assessment.
However, the Court has directed the Ministry of Law and Justice to conduct a judicial impact assessment as directed in Rojer Mathew judgment.
The bench had reserved judgment in the case on September 21, 2022. Report about the hearing can be read here.
Story to be updated after the judgment is uploaded.
Case : Orissa Administrative Tribunal Bar Association v. UoI And Ors. SLP(C) No. 10985/2021
Constitution of India - Article 323A- Article 323-A does not preclude the Union Government from abolishing SATs (Para 32)
Administrative Tribunals Act 1985- The relevant State Government has the implied power to issue a request to abolish the SAT in its state to the Union Government. The Union Government in turn has the implied power to rescind the notification by which that SAT was established, thereby abolishing the SAT - Para 59
Administrative Tribunals Act 1985-The Union Government did not become functus officio after establishing the Odisha Administrative Tribunal because the doctrine cannot ordinarily be applied in cases where the government is formulating and implementing a policy- Para 128 (f)
Principles of natural justice - The decision to establish, continue or abolish the OAT is in the nature of a policy formulated and implemented by the State Government (acting with the Union Government under the Administrative Tribunals Act). The public at large does not have a right to be heard before a policy is formulated and implemented - Para 86
Constitution of India - Article 77- the notification dated 2 August 2019 was not issued in the name of the President. However, this does not render the notification invalid. The effect of not complying with Article 77 is that the Union Government cannot claim the benefit of the irrebuttable presumption that the notification dated 2 August 2019 was issued by the President. Hence, the appellants’ argument that the notification dated 2 August 2019 is invalid and unconstitutional is specious- Para 102
Constitution of India - Article 77- A notification which is not in compliance with clause (1) of Article 77 is not invalid, unconstitutional or non-est for that reason alone. Rather, the irrebuttable presumption that the notification was issued by the President of India (acting for the Union Government) is no longer available to the Union Government. The notification continues to be valid and it is open to the Union Government to prove that the order was indeed issued by the appropriate authority- Para 101
Fundamental right of access to justice- Abolition of OAT does not violate right of access to justice as cases will be heard by High Court- The fundamental right of access to justice is no doubt a crucial and indispensable right under the Constitution of India. However, it cannot be interpreted to mean that every village, town, or city must house every forum of adjudication created by statute or the Constitution- para 112
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