Apex court wants better work conditions in national tribunals

Monday, November 22, 2010

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Monday asked the central government why one standard notification providing for uniform working conditions of all national tribunals was not being issued. The national tribunals are headed by former apex court judges.

The court made this observation in the course of a hearing on a petition which said that the National Green Tribunal, headed by former apex court judge Lokeshwar Singh Panta, was not operational as other members of the tribunal had not been appointed.

The court said that it was not in one case but in several cases where tribunals had been set up without adequate infrastructure to man them.

The status of the chairman of the tribunal, if not higher, should not be less than what he enjoyed in the office he demitted. “It poses the question of independence of the tribunal,” Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh told the court.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly was told that with the constitution of the National Green Tribunal, its predecessor National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) stood dissolved.

Senior counsel Sanjay Parikh told the court that all the matters which were pending before the NEAA stood transferred to the tribunal but since it had not become functional no matter was proceeding.

“Unless you have members, the chairman alone will not be able to work,” the court said.

When the court inquired as to when the other members of the tribunal would be appointed, Jaisingh said that it would take another three months as there was a procedure for the appointment of member.

Citing the instance of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal which started functioning a year after being set up, the court said that the tribunal should be set up with a transitory component being in place.

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