The problems from which the judiciary is suffering, are being replicated with tribunals too, along with few other added problems. Analyze.

Tribunals or quasi-judicial bodies are constituted to reduce burden on courts and address issues like service disputes, environmental issues, insolvency resolution, etc.

Tribunal is replicating judicial problems:

  • Tribunals are suffering due to pendency of cases just like the courts.
  • Tribunals are unable to secure compliance with decisions, e.g. state governments not complying with the National Green Tribunal’s order.
  • Tribunals face lack of manpower and funding, e.g. debt recovery tribunals.
  • Time taken to constitute a tribunal is very long, e.g. River water dispute tribunal has been set up after a 10 year delay.

New problems added by tribunals:

  • Separation of powers is violated with members of the executive discharging quasi-judicial functions while serving on tribunals.
  • Conflict of interest – the central government constitutes most tribunals and is also the biggest litigant before them.
  • Independence – tribunals lack the independence guaranteed to higher judiciary due to constitutional provisions.
  • Burdening Supreme Court – there is a provision to directly appeal against decisions of some tribunals in the Supreme Court. Thus the Supreme Court is struggling to function as a constitutional court.
  • Ethical lapses – E.g. Assam’s foreigners tribunal has declared people illegal immigrants without hearing them.

Way forward:

Rationalization of the tribunals is necessary to fulfill their envisaged objectives and reduce the burden on judiciary.

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