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Dr. Shakuntala Misra National Rehabilitation

University, Lucknow





Dr.Gulab Rai Shubham Tripathi
Asst. Professor B.Com.LL.B(Hons.)
Faculty of Law 6th Semester

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I, SHUBHAM TRIPATHI, I feel myself highly elated, as it gives me tremendous pleasure to come
out with work on the topic ADMINISTRATIVE ADJUDICATION SYSTEM IN INDIA, I started
this project two weeks ago on its completion I feel that I have not only successfully completed it
but also earned an invaluable learning experience.

First of all I express my sincere gratitude to my Professor Dr.Gulab Rai who enlightened me
with such a wonderful and elucidating research topic. Without Him, I think I would have
accomplished only a fraction of what I eventually did. I thank him for putting his trust in me
and giving me a project topic such as this and for having the faith in me to deliver. His sincere
and honest approach have always inspired me and pulled me back on track whenever I went off-
track. Sir, thank you for an opportunity to help me grow. I also express my heartfelt gratitude to
staff and help for the completion of this project.
Next I express my humble gratitude to my parents for their constant motivation and selfless
support. I would thank my brother for guiding me.
I also express m y gratitude to all the class mates for helping me as and when required and must
say that working on this project was a great experience. I bow my head to the almighty for being
ever graceful to me.

B.Com.LL.B (Hons.), 6th Semester

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Welfare nature of government is the evolutionary goal of probably every kind of government
these days in this contemporary world. There has been a phenomenal increase in the functions of
the government, which has lent enormous powers to the executive and also led to increase in the
legislative output. This has led to more litigation, restrictions on the freedom of the individuals
and constant frictions between them and the authority. The development of welfarism led to an
increase in governmental functions and the executive saw in this a need to perform a number of
quasi- legislative and quasi- judicial functions, thus blurring the traditional positions of the
various wings of the government under the doctrine of separation of powers, under which the
powers of the government were divided between the legislature, executive and the judiciary
which were to be entrusted with the power of making law, executing it and interpreting the law

But now these welfare states changed radically and involve itself in the hosting of wide socio-
economic activities; for example: providing health services, education , industrial regulation and
other allied welfare measures. Now where there is these kind of activities; disputes are certain
and obvious. The issues which arose from disputes on such matters raised not only legal matters
but also matters which affect the society at large. The constitution and function of our court
system is very traditional as well as inefficient. The inherent procedural limitations made it
difficult for the courts to dispose these cases promptly thus leading to a huge backlog of cases in
all levels of the judiciary. Courts therefore became deluged with litigations arising directly and
incidentally from such increased governmental interventions. It was also felt in many quarters
that the members of the judiciary were neither adequately trained nor equipped to deal with the
complex socio-economic and technical matters at hand. Thus it was felt specialised adjudicatory
bodies such as tribunals needed to be created to resolve such disputes fairly and effectively.

Tribunals are a Judgment seat; a court of justice; board or committee appointed to adjudicate on
claims of a particular kind1. The essence of the meaning of the word tribunal which can be

Thakker, C.K., Administrative Law, Eastern Book Company: Lucknow, 1996, p.226.
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culled out from the various Supreme Court authorities is that they are adjudicatory bodies
(except ordinary courts of law) constituted by the State and invested with judicial and quasi-
judicial functions as distinguished from administrative or executive functions2. Administrative
tribunals have emerged not only in India but also in many other countries with the objective of
providing a new type of justice - public good oriented justice. These tribunals manned by
technical experts, with flexibility in operations, informality in procedures have gained
importance in the adjudication process.

According to Seervai, the development of administrative law in a welfare state has made
administrative tribunals a necessity'.3 Administrative tribunals are authorities outside the
ordinary court system, which interpret and apply the laws when acts of public administration are
questioned in formal suits by the courts or by other established methods. They are not a court nor
are they an executive body. Rather they are a mixture of both. They are judicial in the sense that
the tribunals have to decide facts and apply them impartially, without considering executive
policy. They are administrative because the reasons for preferring them to the ordinary courts of
law are administrative reasons. The Supreme Court in Jaswant Sugar Mills v.Lakshmi Chand4
laid down the following characteristics or tests to determine whether an authority is a tribunal or
Power of adjudication must be derived from a statute or statutory rule.
It must possess the trappings of a court and thereby be vested with the power to summon
witnesses, administer oath, compel production of evidence, etc.
Tribunals are not bound by strict rules of evidence.
They are to exercise their functions objectively and judicially and to apply the law and
resolve disputes independently of executive policy.

Tribunals are supposed to be independent and immune from any administrative interference in
the discharge of their judicial functions.

Serwai ,HM, Constitutionsl law of India
AIR 1963 SC 677 at 687
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This project comprehensively deals with the all possible aspects regarding the tribunals in India.
An exhaustive research was done using secondary sources from books, articles and over the
internet. A comprehensive bibliography is provided at the end of this project.


In India, administrative adjudication increased after independence and several welfare laws were
promulgated which vested the power on deciding various issues in the hands of the
administration. The modern Indian Republic was born a Welfare State and thus the burden on
the government to provide a host of welfare services to the people was immense. These quasi-
judicial powers acquired by the administration led to a huge number of cases with respect to the
manner in which these administrative bodies arrived at their decisions. The Courts held that
these bodies must maintain procedural safeguards while arriving at their decisions and observe
principles of natural justice-their opinions were substantiated by the 14th Law Commission
Report.5 In order to avoid clogging the judicial machinery with cases which would have arisen
by the operation of these new socio-economic legislations, a number of tribunals were
established by the government. The tribunals were established with the object of providing a
speedy, cheap and decentralised determination of disputes arising out of the various welfare
legislations.6 Another important reason for the new development is that law courts, on account of
their elaborate procedures, legalistic fronts and attitudes can hardly render justice to the parties
concerned, in technical cases. Ordinary judges, brought up in the traditions of law and
jurisprudence, are not capable enough to understand technical problems, which crop up in the
wake of modem complex economic and social processes. Only administrators having expert
knowledge can tackle such problems judiciously. To meet this requirement, a number of
administrative tribunals have come into existence.

In India such tribunals were set up immediately after independence. In fact, the most important
adjudicatory function is carried out by statutory tribunals created by the legislature to adjudicate
upon certain disputes arising from administrative decisions or to determine issues judicially.

Nayak,R., Administrative justice In India, Butterwoths : New Delhi, 1989, p.38
Jain,M.P., Principles of Administrative Law, Wadhwa & Company : Nagpur, 1996, pp.246-248
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The Railway Rates Tribunal, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Labour Tribunals, the
Companies Tribunal, various Compensation Tribunals, Revenue Courts of various States, etc.,
can be cited as examples of such tribunals.7
Regarding the problem of backlog and delayed disposal of case the Government set up the
Administrative Reforms Commission in 1967. It was to examine the problem, suggests
solutions and also to recommend the suitable areas in which tribunals could be set up, according
to this commission The reasons for the growth of administrative tribunals are as follows:
1. Inadequacy of the traditional judiciary to effectively decide administration-related
matters especially when it came to technicalities.
2. The traditional judiciary was seen to be slow, costly and excessively procedural.

The Commission also recommended the establishment of independent tribunals in the following
Service matters and dispute of employees under the state
Orders of assessment on adjudication under Customs, Central Excise, Sales Tax and
orders under the Motor vehicles Act.

Period of emergency played a crucial role in the evolution of

tribunals in India. There were clear signals that the executive did not want the judiciary to
interfere with their developmental plans and other such decisions. Such as removing disputes
regarding elections to the office of President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the Lok Sabha
beyond judicial Scruitiny.8 Hence in 1976 the issue was discussed at the Conference of Chief
Secretaries and from amongst all these discussions and the reports of the various bodies stated
above, Parliament enacted the 42ndConstitution (Amendment) Act, 1976 inserting Articles 323A
and 323B which provided for the establishment of administrative and other tribunals to deal with
the matters specifically provided for.

The main distinction that can be made out between article 323A and 323B is that while 323A

Supra n.1 at p.66
Tribunalisation in India as on 16th
October, 2011.

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allows for the Parliament to by law provide for administrative tribunals to adjudicate disputes,
323B allows for the any appropriate legislature, to by law create an administrative tribunal for
the adjudication of disputes.


In pursuance of Art 323-A Parliament has passed the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985
covering all matters falling within the clause (1) of Article 323- A. This Act authorizes central
government to establish administrative tribunals for central services and on the application of
States even for States services as well as for local bodies and other authorities including public
corporation. From the date of establishment of tribunals all courts except the Supreme Court
under Art 136 lose their jurisdiction with respect to the matter falling within the jurisdiction of
the tribunals.
A tribunal shall consist of Chairman and such number of Vice-Chairmen and other members as
appropriate Government may deem fit. They are appointed by the President in the case of Central
tribunals and by the President in consultation with the Governors or Governors in case of State or
joint Tribunals. The qualifications regarding that are laid down in the Act.9

Other aspects regarding administrative Tribunals are being discussed below different headings
and sub-headings.


There are different types of administrative tribunals, which are governed by the statues, rules,
and regulations of the Central Government as well as State Governments.

Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT)

The enactment of Administrative Tribunals Act in 1985 opened a new chapter in administering
justice to the aggrieved government servants. It owes its origin to Article 323 A of the
Constitution which empowers the Central Government to set up by an Act of Parliament, the
Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 as on 18th February,2017
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Administrative Tribunals for adjudication of disputes and complains with respective recruitment
and conditions of service of persons appointed to the public services and posts in connection
with the Union and the States.

The Tribunals enjoy the powers of the High Court in respect of service matters of the employees
covered by the Act. They are not bound by the technicalities of the Code of Civil Procedure, but
have to abide by the Principles of Natural Justice. They are distinguished from the ordinary
courts with regard to their jurisdiction and procedures. This makes them free from the shackles
of the ordinary courts and enables them to provide speedy and inexpensive justice.

The Act provides for the establishment of Central Administrative Tribunal and State
Administrative Tribunals. The CAT was established in 1985. The Tribunal consists of a
Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Members. These Members are drawn from the judicial as well as
the administrative streams. The appeal against the decisions of the CAT lies with the Supreme
Court of India.

Customs and Excise Revenue Appellate Tribunal (CERAT)

The Parliament passed the CERAT Act in 1986 The Tribunal adjudicate disputes,.
Complaints or offences with regard to customs and excise revenue. Appeals from the, orders of
the CERAT lies with the Supreme Court

Election Commission (EC)

The Election Commission is a tribunal for adjudication of matters pertaining to the allotment of
election symbols to parties and similar other problems. The decision of the commission can be
challenged in the Supreme Court.

Foreign Exchange Regulation Appellate Board (FERAB)

The Board has been set up under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973. A person who is
aggrieved by an order of adjudication for causing breach or committing offences under the Act
can file an appeal before the FERAB.

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Income Tax Appellate Tribunal

This tribunal has been constituted under the Income Tax Act, 196 1. The Tribunal has its benches
in various cities and appeals can be filed before it by an aggrieved persons against the order
passed by the Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner or Chief Commissioner or Director of 1 n
c o m e ' ~ a x . An appeal against the order of the Tribunal lies to the High Court. An appeal also
lies to the Supreme Court if the High Court deems fit.

Railway Rates Tribunal

This-Tribunal was set up under the Indian Railways Act, 1989. It adjudicates matters pertaining
to the complaints against the railway administration. These may be related to the discriminatory
or unreasonable rates, unfair charges or preferential treatment meted out by the railway
'administration. The appeal against the order of the Tribunal lies with the Supreme Court.

Industrial Tribunal
This Tribunal has been set up under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. It can be constituted by'
both the Central as well as State governments. The Tribunal looks into the dispute between the
employers and the workers in matters relating to wages, the period and mode of payment,
compensation and other allowances, hours of work, gratuity, retrenchment and closure of the
establishment. The appeals against the decision of the Tribunal lie with the Supreme Court.


Jurisdiction and Power:

1. After the coming into force of Administrative Tribunals Act, 198510, all judicial remedies save
those of the Supreme Court under Art 2 and 136 have been abolished and the pending
proceeding before other courts stand transferred before the regional Administrative Tribunals
under s.29 of the Act.

The Act was brought into force with effect from 2-10-1985. The Central Administrative Tribunals was set up on
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2. Administrative Tribunal is competent to exercise all powers which the respective courts had,
including declaration as to constitutionality of relevant laws. In short, the jurisdiction of the
Tribunal is not supplementary but is a complete substitute of the High Courts and Civil Courts.11

3. In view of s.14 of the Administrative Tribunal Act,1985, in case where the suit lay, the
employee will now have to seek his remedy by application under s.19 of the Act. Pending suits
shall stand transferred to the Administrative Tribunal having territorial jurisdiction under section
29 of the Act12.

4. Section 29A (inserted in 1986) gives an appellant jurisdiction of the Central Administrative
Tribunal. Appeals from judgement of Civil Courts in suits relating to service matter which are
now governed by the A.T. Act shall lie to the Administrative Tribunals to the exclusion of any
other Civil Appellant Court or the High Court13. The central Administrative Tribunal is the
Tribunal constituted under Art.323-A of the Constitution and is expected to have the same
jurisdiction as that of High Court.14

5. Orders of the Central Administrative Tribunals are nt open to challenge before the High

Sources of Tribunals Jurisdiction-

Suit of proceeding transferred to it under s.29 of the Act
S.19 deals with jurisdiction of entertaining original application relating to service matters
Appellant jurisdiction under s.29A

What the Administrative Tribunals can do-

1. Unconstitutionality of Law
a. The tribunal can declare the unconstitutional a statute or subordinate legislation

Sampat Kumar, SP v. Union of India,(1987) 1 ATR 34
Cf. Kaptan Singh v, UOI (1986) 4 SLR 545 (Del)
UOI v. Deep Chand Pandey (1992) 4 SCC 432
UOI v. K D Batish AIR 2006 SC 789
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relating to the dispute before it, which contravenes provisions of the constitution.
b. Whether a body would be an authority within the meaning of Art.12.
c. In a case where enquiry has been dispensed with under the 2nd proviso to Art
311(2), the tribunal is competent to examine the legal jurisdiction for such
d. It may decide question of law, including preliminary pleas in bar, e.g. limitation;
non-joinder of party; territorial jurisdiction of the tribunal; res judicata.

2. Procedure
I. A Tribunal is not barred by the provisions of the Evidence Act. 16 In order to
discover the truth, the Tribunal may resort to the inquisitional procedure,
provided no principle of natural justice is violated.
II. Tribunals shall be guided solely by the principles of natural justice unfettered by
anything in the CPC and shall have the power to regulate its own procedure.
III. A plea of violation of statutory provision can be taken before the Tribunal though
not taken in the petition.
IV. It is competent to execute its own order, though the A.T Act has no specific
provision in this behalf.

3. Disciplinary matters:
The Tribunal is competent to go into the facts and set aside the order passed by a disciplinary
Where the conclusion arrived at is arbitrary or perverse.
On the other hand , the Tribunal will not interfere
with the finding of facts of the enquiry officers where there was some evidence before
him on the basis of which he could reasonably come to the conclusion that the charges
against the petitioner were proved .
with an order of rejection, by the Tribunal , of an application for reinstatement on the
grounds of inordinate and unexplained delay.

Om Prakash Pathak v. UOI (1986) 4 SLR 251
G Mohanti v. UOI ATR (1987) 1 CAT 229
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There has been some difference of opinion amongst the tribunals as to how far, if at all,
they may interfere with the punishment awarded by a disciplinary authority

Likewise, Administrative Tribunals can perform other functions of Punishment,

Compulsory retirement, Interlocutory matters etc.

What the Administrative Tribunals cannot do-

However wide be the jurisdiction of the tribunal, it cannot exercise any jurisdiction of power
which no court could exercise, e.g.,-
a. To question the ground of satisfaction of the President under Cl. (c) of the second proviso
to Art.311 (2) 17
b. To go into the merits of an administrative determination in the absence of mala fides,
arbitrariness, colorable exercise of power or exercise of power without jurisdiction; or a
finding without any evidence at all.
c. To overrule or by-pass decision of the High Court which are binding on it as precedents.
d. Though, like the High Court or a Civil Court, an administrative Tribunal has jurisdiction
to make interim order in like circumstances.

Appeal from Administrative Tribunal to Supreme Court:

Though the jurisdiction of High Court under Art 226 over service matter has been taken
over by the respective Administrative Tribunals Act 1985, the jurisdiction of the Supreme

Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State
(2) No such person as aforesaid shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which
he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of
those charges Provided that where it is proposed after such inquiry, to impose upon him any such penalty, such
penalty may be imposed on the basis of the evidence adduced during such inquiry and it shall not be necessary to
give such person any opportunity of making representation on the penalty proposed: Provided further that this
clause shall not apply
(c) where the President or the Governor, as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the security of the
State, it is not expedient to hold such inquiry

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Court over these Tribunals under Art.136 has been retained.

Appeals lies to the Supreme Court from orders of an Administrative Tribunal, by special
leave under Art 136, on the following grounds-
Error of Law
Finding of the Tribunal being perverse.
The order of the Tribunal being without jurisdiction or ultra vires.
The order of the Tribunals being arbitrary or mala fide.
The order of the Tribunal is such as would lead to grave injustice.

As mentioned earlier, the Administrative Tribunals Act was passed in 1985 under article 323A
and section 28 of this Act provided for the exclusion of jurisdiction of all courts except that of
the Supreme Court under Article 13618. This fuelled a sudden spurt in the number of cases that
challenged the validity of the said legislation as well as that of the 42nd Amendment that
introduced Articles 323A and 323B in to the constitution. Some of the prominent case in this
regard is discussed below.

1. S.P.Sampath Kumar v. Union of India19

This is the first and perhaps the most important case in this period that attracted judicial scrutiny
in this area. The Constitution Bench in Sampath kumar was called upon to decide on the main
issue whether Section 28 of the Act was unconstitutional as it excludes judicial review, which
was contended as part of the basic structure of the constitution20. The Supreme Court accepted
without doubt that judicial; review is part of the basic structure. However the Court went on to
observe that the creation of alternate institutional mechanisms which were as effective as the
High Courts would not be violative of the basic structure. The administrative Tribunals under the
Act were recognized as effective substitutes of the High Courts. This proved to be a shot in the
arm of the proponents of tribunalisation. However the Apex Court came down heavily on the
procedure for appointing the Chairman of the Tribunal. Section 6(1) (c) of the Act allowed a
person who held the post of a Secretary to the Government of India or an equivalent post t

Joshi, K. C., Legal Status of Tribunals, IBR, Vol. 25 (2), 1998
AIR 1987 SC 386
During the pendency of the case, the Government gave an assurance to the Court that the Act would be
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become the Chairman. Since these Tribunals were to be substitutes of High Courts it is
impermissible for bureaucrats to hold such a post. Hence this provision was held to be
unconstitutional. The Chairman should be a retiring or retired Chief Justice of a High Court.
Other members have to appointed by a committee consisting of a sitting Judge of the Supreme
Court. It was also suggested that the Chief Justice of India has to consult while making these
appointments. The Parliament accepted these recommendations and now they find a place in the
Act by way of the Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Act of 1986.

2. Sambamurthy v. State of Andhra Pradesh21

It was held in this case that Article 371D (5) of the constitution, which was inserted by the
Constitution (32nd Amendment) Act,1973, was unconstitutional and void. This provision had
enabled the Government of Andhra Pradesh to modify or nullify any order of the Administrative
tribunal of that state. It was pointed out that such a provision was violative of the basic structure
as it made the tribunal not as effective as the High Court when it comes to judicial review. Here
the Court seems to be strictly adhering to the directive in Sampath Kumars case that the
administrative tribunals should be effective substitutes to the High Court.

3. J.B.Chopra v. Union of India22

It was held that since the Administrative tribunals are meant to be substitutes of High Courts,
their power of judicial review extended to power as to decide on the constitutionality of service
However, soon we see a reversal of trend leading to a lot of confusion.
In M.B.Majumdar v.Union of India23 the Supreme Court refused to extend the service
conditions and other benefits enjoyed by ordinary High Court judges to the members of these
Tribunals. Three years later, in R.K.Jain v. Union of India24, the Supreme Court opined that
these Tribunals could not be effective substitutes of High Courts under Articles 226 and 227. We
also find very clear expression of dissatisfaction of the apex court regarding the functioning and
effectiveness of Administrative Tribunals especially with regard to their power of judicial

(1987) I SCC 386
(1987) I SCC 422.
(1990) 4 SCC 501.
(1993) 4 SCC 119
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4. Sakinala Harinath v. State of Andhra Pradesh25
In this case, the Andhra Pradesh High Court dropped a bomb shell by expressing serious doubts
about the wisdom of the learned Judges in Sampath Kumars case. The Full Bench ruled that the
ruling in the above case equating Administrative Tribunals to the High courts with respect to
their jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 227 was inconsistent with the apex courts ruling in
cases like Kesavanda Bharati v. State of Keral26 and Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain27. It was
pointed out that the constitutional courts could only exercise the power of judicial review. Since
the logic of alternative institutional mechanism propounded in Sampath Kumars case does not
fit in to this scheme, it is constitutionally impermissible. As a result both Articles 323A(d) and
section 28 of the Act were struck down as unconstitutional.

The judicial green signal given for tribunalisation given in Sampath Kumar can be seen to be
slowly fading because of the subsequent decisions.The confusion created by these conflicting
decisions ushered in the need for taking a second look at S.P. Sampath Kumars case. This
opportunity arrived when a three judge bench of the Supreme Court in L. Chandrakumar v.
Union of India28 decided to refer the matter to a larger bench. This eventually led to the famous
ruling of the Seven Judge Bench of the Supreme Court on L. Chandrakumar v. Union of India,
which is now the law of the land.

5. L. Chandrakumars Case

The important issues considered by the apex court were as follows:

Whether Art. 323A (2) (d) and Art.323B (3) (d) of the constitution which give the power
to the Union and State Legislatures to exclude the jurisdiction of all courts except that of
the Supreme Court under Art.136, is in accordance with the power of judicial review
embodied in Art.32 and 226.
Whether the power of High Courts to exercise the powers of superintendence over the

1993 (2) An. W.R.484 (FB)
(1973) 4 SCC 225
AIR 1975 SC 2291
AIR 1995 SC 1151
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subordinate judiciary under Articles 226 and 227 form part of Basic Structure.
The competence of the aforesaid tribunals to determine the constitutionality of any law.
Whether the aforesaid tribunals are acting as affective substitutes to High Courts in terms
of efficiency.
It was held that the power of judicial review over legislative and administrative action is
expressly vested with the High Courts and the Supreme Court under Articles 226 and 32
respectively. The contention that the constitutional safeguards which ensure the independence of
the higher judiciary29 is not available to the lower judiciary and bodies such as Tribunals was
upheld and the Apex Court consequently held that the lower judiciary would not be able to serve
as effective substitutes to the higher judiciary in matters of constitutional interpretation and
judicial review. Hence the power of judicial review is vested in the higher judiciary and the
power of High Courts and the Supreme Court to test the constitutional validity of legislative and
administrative action cannot ordinarily be ousted. However it was held that these tribunals and
the lower judiciary could exercise the role of judicial review as supplement to the superior
judiciary. The court applied the provisions of Article 32(3) to uphold the same.


Administrative adjudication is a dynamic system of administration, which serves, more
adequately than any other method, the varied and complex needs of the modem society. The
main advantages of the administrative tribunals are:
Administrative adjudication has brought about flexibility and adaptability in the judicial
as well as administrative tribunals. For instance, the courts of law exhibit a good deal of
conservatism and inelasticity of outlook and approach. The justice they administer may
become out of harmony with the rapidly changing social conditions. Administrative
adjudication, not restrained by rigid rules of procedure and canons of evidence, can
remain in tune with the varying phases of social and economic life.

Adequate Justice

In terms of qualifications, mode of appointment, tenure, mode of removal, etc.
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In the fast changing world of today, administrative tribunals are not only the most
appropriated means of administrative action, but also the most effective means of giving
fair justice to the individuals. Lawyers, who are more concerned about aspects of law,
find it difficult to adequately assess the needs of the modem welfare society and to locate
the individuals place in it.
Less Expensive
Administrative justice ensures cheap and quick justice. As against this, procedure in the
law courts is long and cumbersome and litigation is costly. It involves payment of huge
court fees, engagement of lawyers and meeting of other incidental charges.
Administrative adjudication, in most cases, requires no stamp fees. Its procedures are
simple and can be easily understood by a layman.
Relief to Courts
The system also gives the much-needed relief to ordinary courts of law, which are
already overburdened with ordinary suits.


Even though administrative adjudication is essential and useful in modem day administration, we
should not be blind to the defects from which it suffers or the dangers it poses to a democratic
polity. Some of the main drawbacks are mentioned below.
Administrative adjudication is a negation of Rule of Law. Rule of Law ensures equality
before law for everybody and the supremacy of ordinary law and due procedure of law
over governmental arbitrariness. But administrative tribunals, with their separate laws
and procedures often made by themselves, puts a serious limitation upon the celebrated
principles of Rule of Law.
Administrative tribunals have in most cases, no set procedures and sometimes they
violate even the principles of natural justice.
Administrative tribunals often hold summary trials and they do not follow any
precedents. As such it is not possible to predict the course of future decisions.
The civil and criminal courts have a uniform pattern of administering justice and
centuries of experience in the administration of civil and criminal laws have borne

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testimony to the advantages of uniform procedure. A uniform code of procedure in

administrative adjudication is not there.
Administrative tribunals are manned by administrators and technical heads who may not
have the background of law or training of judicial work. Some of them may not possess
the independent outlook of a judge.


Tribunals are essentially those bodies of the Executive branch of the government who by virtue
of some statutory provision have the power and duty to act judicially in determining disputes
which come before it.30 Tribunals as stated earlier are distinct from the ordinary courts of the
land and as per Chandrakumars case they are not on par with the High Courts but serve a
supplemental function to the High Courts. They are therefore subject to the writ jurisdiction of
the superior judiciary and to the power of judicial review exercisable by the superior judiciary. In
most of the tribunals appeals from their decisions lie in the High Court on substantial questions
of law.

There are different types of tribunals in India, ranging from single member tribunals to multi-
member tribunals. Tribunals such as the Industrial tribunal may consist of one or more members,
and they can be appointed by the appropriate government. The chairman of the tribunal is
supposed to possess judicial qualifications and is supposed to be or have been a judge of the
High Court or a District judge or be qualified for appointment as a High Court judge. The other
members are expected to satisfy the prescribed requirements- which are to ensure that the
members are experts and will be able to speedily and effectively dispose of matters. The
procedure to be followed by the tribunal is prescribed by the Act and rules made there under.
Though the function of the tribunal is to adjudicate on the disputes it has only some of the
trappings of the court. It is not bound by strict rules of procedure and can take decisions by
exercising its discretion. While accepting the fact that such tribunals must work towards
furthering social justice, it has been held in J&K Iron and Steel Co. v. Mazdoor Union that
tribunal cannot act beyond the scope of the law. It can decide the dispute on the basis of the

Chakraverti, S., Administrative Law and Tribunals, 2nd edition, The Law Book Co. Ltd.: Allahabad
AIR 1956 SC 231
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pleadings and has no power to reach a conclusion without any evidence on record. The tribunal
is expected to hold the proceedings in public, follow fair procedure and decide disputes
impartially and independently.

All tribunals in India are arranged on the following basis:

Created by a statute
Subject to the writ jurisdiction of the superior judiciary and to judicial review.
Manned by experts and persons with judicial experience.
Subject to the superintendence of the concerned High Court under Art.227
Decisions may be final or appealable within the tribunal or in certain cases to the High

Appeals against orders of the tribunal may be heard by the Supreme Court by special leave under
Art. 136.


Administrative tribunals must act openly, fairly and impartially. They must afford a reasonable
opportunity to the parties to represent their case and adduce evidence. Thus, in State of U.P. v.
Md. Nooh32 where the prosecutor was also an adjudcating officer and also in Dhakeshwari
Mills33where the tribunal did not disclose some evidence to the assessee which was relied upon,
the decisions were set aside.

In Union of India v. T.R. Verma34 the Supreme Court held the following to be part of natural
Party must be able to adduce all evidence being relied upon.
Evidence must be taken in the presence of both parties.
Must be given opportunity to cross- examine.

AIR 1958 SC 86
AIR 1955 SC154
AIR 1957 SC 882 at 885

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And no material must be relied upon without giving the party opportunity to explain the

Tribunals are free to evolve their own method of procedure as long as they conform to the
principles of natural justice as outlined above.
Tribunals are also expected to give reasoned decisions so as to introduce clarity, reduce
arbitrariness and reduce the scope of frivolous appeals. It also provides the supervisory authority
the opportunity to keep tribunals within bounds.

In view of the increasing role of administration in citizens' life, the administrative
tribunals are expected to play an important role in the redressal of citizens' grievances. In this
unit we have examined the nature of administrative tribunals and the various reasons for their
goping importance. Various types of administrative tribunals are set up in the country to address
various issues, such as, the adjudication of disputes and complaints of the public servants,
redressal of consumer disputes, industrial disputes, disputes pertaining to income tax etc.

They provide greater flexibility in administering justice and provide relief to the courts. But at
the same time they suffer from some limitations as they sometimes violate the principles of
natural justice, lack uniform pattern of administering justice and also suffer from the lack of a
proper background on law or judicial work. However, with certain safeguards it is possible to
rectify some of these limitations. The administrative tribunals should have people with legal
training and experience. A code of judicial procedures should be devised and enforced for their

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In practice there are a number of tribunals functioning in the country. Very few of them,
however, have been able to inspire confidence in the public. The tribunals have shown a singular
lack of competence and objectivity in determining disputes. Another reason for their failure is
the constitution of the tribunals and the method of appointment of the personnel. Persons with
expertise and the right qualifications do not want to sit on these tribunals thus leading to the
unsatisfactory functioning of these tribunals.35 The uncertainty of tenure, unsatisfactory service
conditions, interference by the executive and political interference have further impeded the
proper development of tribunals in India. Tribunals are supposed to provide specialized
adjudicatory services but the type of people appointed lack the requisite expertise and are on the
tribunals merely because of political pressure and executive interference.

Tribunals are supposed to serve as alternative institutional mechanisms to high courts, they must
therefore be able to inspire public confidence by proving themselves to be a competent and
expert mechanism with a judicial and objective approach. In order to achieve this it is essential
that members of the tribunal are equipped with adequate judicial acumen and expertise. These
judicial officers need to be balanced with experts in the particular field. Only a judicious blend of
the two will be able to provide an effective and result oriented tribunal system. Another
important measure which needs to be taken are steps to maintain the independence of the
members of these tribunals from political or executive interference. Just as the ordinary judiciary
are protected from political control through security of tenure and through institutionalized
methods of appointment (through a selection committee comprising of the Chief Justice,
Departmental secretaries, etc.) in order to further reduce the burden on the high courts the high
courts must be divested of the supervisory jurisdiction over the tribunals. It is essential therefore
that a single centralised nodal agency be established to oversee the functioning of the tribunals.
Such a centralised umbrella organisation will ensure the independence of the tribunals in matters
of tenure and funds.
Thus the overall picture regarding tribunalisation of justice in the country is far from satisfactory.

Sathe, S.P., Adminiostrative Law, 6th. Edn., Butterworths, New Delhi, 1999, pp. 245-252
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A fresh look at the system of tribunals in India is required so as to ensure speedy justice and
quick disposal of disputes arising out of administrative disputes which are essential for the
development of the nation.

A.T. Markose: Judicial Control of Administrative Action in India, 1956, Madras Law
Journal Office, Madras.
A.V. Dicey, Introduction to the Study of the law of the Constitution, London, 1931.
Administrative Law Treatise, 1958 Vol.1.
Allen, Law and orders (1956).
Ashok Chanda, Indian Administration, London.
Basu, D.D., Administrative Law, Kamal Law House, Kolkata, Sixth Edition, 2004.
D.D.Basu, Criminal Procedure Code 1973, 3 rd ed.,(I), Asoke K. Ghosh, Prentice-Hall of
India Private Limited, M-97, Cannaught Circus, New Delhi-110001,1996
D.D.Basu, Indian Penal Code 1860, Asoke K. Ghosh, Prentice-Hall of India Private
Limited, M-97, Cannaught Circus, New Delhi-110001,1997
Jain and Jain, Administrative Law in India, 12 th edition, Eastern Book Company,
Leonord D. White, Public Administration, 1953.
Marshman, John Clark, The History of India, from the earliest period to the close Lord
Dalhousies administration, II, London: Longmans, Green, Reader and Dyer, 1867
P.M.Bakshis Constitution of India Seventh Edition, 2006, Universal Law Publishing Co.
Pvt. Ltd Delhi.
Takwani, C.K., Lectures On Administrative Law, Eastern Book Company, Lucknow,
Upendra Baxi, Developments in Indian Administrative Law, Public Law in India (1982)

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(A. G. Noorani Ed.) p.156.

All India Reporter
All India Times
Criminal Law Journal
Delhi law Review.
Supreme Court Cases


Law Commission of India, 162nd Report, Review of functioning of Central
Administrative Tribunal; Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal and
Income Tax Act Appellate Tribunal.


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