PM critical of Tribunals, asks if they are barrier for justice

New Delhi: Questioning the efficacy of tribunals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today voiced concern over the low rate of disposal of cases by them and said there was a need to ascertain whether these institutions were delivering justice or were acting as a “barrier” in it.

PM Narendra Modi
PM Narendra Modi

He said senior judges of the Supreme Court can brainstorm to find out whether the tribunals are actually fast tracking justice delivery or are slowing it down. He made these remarks as most tribunals are headed by retired judges.

Addressing a joint conference of Chief Justices of High Court and Chief Ministers, Modi said the budget allocated to run the tribunals can be diverted to courts to strengthen them if it is found that they are not delivering results.

He said it is necessary to find out whether tribunals are delivering justice or have become a “barrier” in the process of justice delivery.

Modi said there are some ministries which have four tribunals under their administrative control and the total number of tribunals in the country is now reaching 100.

The Prime Minister referred to the role of tribunals while referring to the system of alternate dispute resolution system which is considered a tool to reduce pendency in courts.

The Department of Legal Affairs in the Law Ministry had recently written to all Union ministries and departments to furnish details of tribunals functioning under their administrative control and explain the “possibility of merging the functions of tribunals with some other tribunals”.

The Law Ministry is of the view that there is a possibility that some of the tribunals can be “converged/ merged” to avoid “overlapping/identical functions” being discharged by them. There are over 35 tribunals functioning in the country dealing with subjects such as income tax, electricity, consumer protection, company laws and railway accidents.

The move by the government comes close on the heels of a proposal floated by the Water Resources Ministry some time back to amend the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, to scrap the five inter-state water dispute resolution tribunals and replace them with a single permanent tribunal.