Supreme Court on Monday voiced its reservations against the newly enacted Tribunal Reforms Act. The bench took strong exception to the new act featuring exactly the same provisions that had been struck down as a part of the Madras Bar Association Judgement.
Tribunal Reforms Act was enacted on Aug 13, 2021. The Act features provisions for fixing terms of members for 4 years. The act provides for a bar on persons below 50 years of age being appointed as members. These provisions, among others, were comprehensively declared to be unconstitutional in the Supreme Court Judgment.
SC observed that it was aware of how the bureaucracy functioned. CJI observed that he was aware that every time judgment is passed, the executive thinks it can nullify it by passing an Act. SC expressed its disappointment that this could continue with the top court passing judgments, and the executive nullifying them. Here the SC took a hardened stance, observing that the Centre can’t pass laws that are directly violative of what has been held by the SC.
These observations hold an important cue, even as the government is contemplating various measures to aid the ailing sector. One of the measures reportedly being considered is an extension of the AGR timeline. However, the September 2020 judgement of the top court had very explicitly dealt with demands for a 20 year payout period. Centre, after securing approval from the cabinet, had filed a plea in SC seeking 20 years. The demand for 20 years was however rejected and the top court had allowed only 10 years for telcos to repay the AGR dues.
Incidentally, the bench hearing issue of vacancies in Tribunals consists of Chief Justice of India, Justice NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice LN Rao. Justice LN Rao, also, heads the bench dealing with the AGR issue. It was under his watch, that pleas by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea seeking correction of “arithmetic errors” in the AGR demand, were struck down by SC.
(Edited by : Aditi Gautam)
First Published: IST