The term ‘Tribunal’ is derived from the word ‘tribunes’ means ‘magistrate of the classic roman Republic’. In administrative law, tribunal is used in a sense, to define an adjudicatory body which lies outside the scope of judicial body. Technically, judicial power is vested with the courts of the country to decide and prevent injustice but to perform better and to judiciary to run smoothly, the judicial power is also delegated to the Administrative authority, thus, giving rise to formation of Administrative tribunal which is a quasi- judicial body. Although meaning of Administrative tribunal is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution of India, but provides for its establishment. In Durga Shankar Mehta Vs. Raghuraj Singh case, the Supreme Court said that the meaning of ‘tribunal’ as used in Article 136 does not mean the same thing as ‘court’ but includes within its ambit, all adjudicating bodies provided they are constituted by the state and invested with judicial powers as distinguished from administrative or executive functions.
To relieve congestion in courts or to lower the burden of cases in courts.
To provide for speedier disposal of disputes concerning the service matters.
Applicability of the Act
According to Section 2 of the executive Tribunals Act, 1985, the act applies to all or any Central Government employees except –
- The members of the naval, military or air force or the other soldiers of the Union
- Any officer or servant of the Supreme Court or any High Courts
- Any person appointed to the secretariat staff of either House of the Parliament
Being an adjudicatory body, administrative tribunals plays different functions that have been given to them, which is its characteristics or salient features. The Supreme Court in case of Jaswant Sugar Mills vs. Lakshmi Chand gave certain specifics to determine a tribunal (either an authority is tribunal or not). Directions follows as:
- Administrative boards or officers have the facility to undertake questions of law and fact during a manner almost like that employed by the courts and to form a choice thereon which is binding upon private individuals and affect their private rights
- Power of adjudication must be derived from statute or a statutory rule
- It must possess the investiture of the trimmings of a court- like the authority to work out matters in cases initiated by parties, sitting publicly , the facility to compel the attendance of witnesses ad to look at them on oath, compel the assembly of evidence, etc.
- Administrative tribunals have the responsibility to adjudicate judiciously and without their personal predicaments, by ensuring the very best justice is provided to the parties. consistent with M. C. J. Kagzi, “The provisions declaring the proceedings before the tribunal judicial proceedings, giving it the powers of a civil court surely procedural matters, and requiring it to listen to the parties attend prove that the tribunal is required to act judicially and not mere judiciously.”
- administrative tribunals are conceived and constituted as an efficient and real substitute for the High Courts as regards service matters are concerned. the facility of review of the High Courts can’t be called as inviolable as that of the Supreme Court. now means the actions of the tribunals come under the check of review that ensures that there’s just adjudication.
- A person entrusted to do an administrative act has often to determine questions of fact to enable him to exercise his power, consider facts and circumstances and to weigh pros and cons before making decisions. And exercise his/her power justly, as a person exercising a judicial or a quasi-judicial authority does
- they’re alleged to be independent and immune from any administrative interference within the discharge of their judicial functions
Other than these features there are other characteristics that define the Administrative tribunals:
- it’s confined exclusively to resolve disputes between two or more parties out of which government has got to be one but oftentimes it also decides on disputes between two private parties too for instance election tribunal, rent control panel
- The prerogative writs of certiorari and prohibition are available against the decisions of administrative tribunals Hence tribunal cannot dispose of the matters as the final arbitrator
- Once the dispute is settled by the High Court, it cannot be entertained by the administrative tribunal; similar to the ordinary hierarchy of courts followed everywhere. This is also referred to as the concept of res adjudicata which provides finality to the judicial decisions in order that one case isn’t litigated twice as given in Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code
- they’re formed to supply a forum to deal specifically with service matters to unload some burden off the opposite courts from their jurisdiction, by providing inexpensive and quicker relief, by abiding the rules of natural justice and not the other guidelines such as Civil Procedure Code or Law of Evidence as done by other ordinary cases.
The provisions in the Indian context in regards to Administrative Tribunals began with the 14th report by the Law Commission of India titled “Reform of Judicial Administration” in 1958. In this report, it suggested the establishment of an Appellate Tribunal or Tribunals at the State and Centre.