Gone are the days when state was only a lassie-faire police state. Gone are the day when the traditional function of the state was restricted to defense, collection of revenue, maintenance of law and order and administration of justice. Now state has become more progressive and socialistic. It has become a welfare state which in addition to its traditional functions, also seeks to eliminate poverty and exploitation, promote literacy, provide employment, manufacture and distribute essential commodities, protect human rights, conserve the environment and undertake a host of other welfare activities for the good of its citizens.
Moreover, the modern government forced to employ a large work to carry out diverse activities. According to the traditional theory of separation of powers, the function adjudication of disputes belongs exclusively to the judiciary. However, with advent of ‘welfare state’ the function of state has increased manifold. In a progressive democratic state, issues relating to the socio-economic and commercial activities of the state are bound to arise. The courts are extensively over-burdened, have their own shortcoming and limitation when tackling such issues. This has led to the establishment of Tribunals-or Administrative tribunals as they are often referred for settling specific kinds of disputes.
Tribunal is a quasi-judicial institution that is set up to deal with administrative or tax-related disputes. It performs functions like adjudicating disputes, determining rights between contesting parties, making an administrative decision and reviewing any administrative decision and so forth.
Tribunal plays an important role and tribunals are increasing since it has been recognized in Indian Constitution itself. Article 136 of the constitution empowers the Supreme court to hear special leave petitions filed against an order or decision, inter alia, of a tribunal.
Tribunals were not the part of Indian Constitution it was incorporated in the constitution by 42nd Amendment,1976 in which two new articles inserted Article 323-A and 323-B.
- Article 323-A── provides for the establishment of Administrative tribunals by the Parliament law for the adjudication or trial of disputes and complaints relating to the recruitment and conditions of service of government servant under the Central Government and the State Government including the employee of local or any other authority within the territory of India or of a corporation owned or controlled by the government.
- Under Article 323-B, The Parliament and the state legislatures are authorized to provide for the establishment of tribunals for the adjudication of disputes relating to the following matters:
- Land reforms
- Ceiling on urban property
- Industrial and labor disputes
- Foreign exchange and export
- Rent and tenancy issues
- Elections disputes of member of parliament or the State legislatures
Again, in Article 277 confers on the High court the power of superintendence inter alia, over all the tribunals.
ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL ACT, 1985
The enactment of Administrative Tribunals Act in 1985 opened a new chapter in the area of administering justice to the aggrieved government. It owes it origin to Article 323-A of the Indian constitution. The administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 provides 3 types of Tribunals:
- The Central Government establishes an Administrative tribunal called the Central Administrative Tribunal(CAT)
- The Central government may, upon receipt of request in this behalf from any State Government, establish an administrative tribunal for such state employees.
- Two or more state can enter into an agreement for same Administrative tribunal for each state participating in the agreement and after approval by the central government such tribunal shall be known as Joint Administrative Tribunal(JAT).
- Central Administrative tribunal 
The Central Administrative Tribunal(CAT) has been established under article 323-A of the Indian Constitution and has jurisdiction to deal with service matters pertaining to be the Central Government employees or of any Union Territory, or local or other authorities under the control of the Government of India. Thus, it deals with the service disputes between the Central Government and it servants.
- The CAT was set-up on 1 November, 1985.
- There are 17 regular benches and 21 circuit benches in the CAT all over India. In addition, the CAT, principal bench is dealing with the matters of Govt. of National territory of Delhi.
- The tribunal follows the rule of natural justice in deciding cases and is not bounded by the procedures, prescribed in the Civil Procedure Code. It is empowered to frame its own rules of procedure and practice. Thus, the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987 and Central Administrative Tribunal Rules of Practice, 1993 have been notified to ensure smooth functioning if the Tribunal.
- The appeal against the orders of Administrative tribunals shall lie before the Divisional Bench of concerned High Court.
- State Administrative Tribunal
Article 323-B empowers the state Legislature to set up tribunals for various matters.
TYPES OF TRIBUNALS
There are various types of administrative tribunals set up in the country to address various issues. The following are the few of them.
Water dispute Tribunal
- The Parliament has enacted Inter-state water dispute Act, 1956 has formed various Water Disputes Tribunal for adjudication of disputes relating to water of Inter-state rivers and river valley thereof.
National Green Tribunal
- The national Green tribunal was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 as a statutory body. It was set up for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environment protection and conservation of natural resources.
Railway Rate Tribunal
- This tribunal was set up under Indian Railways Act, 1989. Adjudication matters relating to complaints against railway administration such as discriminatory or unreasonable rates, unfair charges or biased treatment meted out by the railway administration. The appeal against the order of the Tribunal lies with the Supreme Court.
- Industrial tribunal can be constituted by both central and state government. It was set up under Industrial Dispute Act, 1947. It looks after the disputes relating to workers and employers in respect to wages, compensation, working hours, retrenchment and closure of establishment.
FEATURES OF ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS
- An administrative tribunal has a statutory origin, that it is created by or under law.
- Tribunals performs judicial and quasi-judicial functions, as distinguished from purely administrative or executive functions.
- It is not bounded by the strict rules of Civil Procedure Code or the Criminal Procedure Code.
- Administrative tribunals are nevertheless bound to act in judicial manner and in accordance with the principle of Natural Justice and fair play.
- Administrative tribunal has no power to review its decisions- unless such a power has been expressly conferred on it by law.
ADVANTAGES OF TRIBUNALS
- It has brought about flexibility and adaptability in the judicial and as well as administrative tribunals.
- Administrative tribunals are less expensive and quick. The procedures can be easily understood by a layman.
- Experimentation is possible in this field and not in the realm of judicial trials.
- These tribunal gives much needed relief in resolving disputes to the ordinary courts.
DRAWBACKS OF TRIBUNALS
- Deviation from Rule of law as they have separate rules and law, it neglects the principle of Rule of Law.
- There is no uniform code of procedure in the Administrative tribunals like that of courts.
- It lacks adequate infrastructure to function efficiently.
- Administrative tribunals often hold summary trials and do not follow precedents.
In the view, the growing role of administrative tribunals in citizen`s life, it plays a significant role in resolving the disputes of citizens. Due to its flexibility in administering justice it provides relief to courts. The existing tribunals have number of limitations and their full potential is not utilized at the present. Comprehensive reforms are necessary for the efficient functioning of the tribunals and the speedy justice to the aggrieved government servant. A code of judicial procedure should be formed and enforced for their functioning. Therefore, the concept of administrative tribunal is gradually flourishing and successful with certain limitation and flaws.
Author: Akriti Mishra,
Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, Surat, 2nd Year Law student