SALIENT FEATURES OF ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL ACT, 1985
Administrative Tribunals are agencies created for adjudication of controversies arising in the implementation of provisions of enactments.
Nowadays, many judicial functions are performed by the executives as the ordinary Courts of law can’t deal with all socio-economic problems. So Administrative bodies are set up to discharge quasi-judicial duties.
Generally, administrative disputes must be settled as early as possible, but no court of law can decide them in such a way. So, Administrative Tribunals are established to decide quasi-judicial issues of the ordinary Court of law.
DEFINITION OF TRIBUNAL
Tribunal means – a statutory body vested with the inherent judicial power of the State. It is an adjudicating authority other than an ordinary Court of law. It is an adjudicating body constituted by the State and vested with judicial powers.
It is not a Court, but it is vested with the State’s inherent judicial power. It is given, the power to adjudicate upon the matters which affect the rights of the people. It performs quasi-judicial functions. It observes the principles of natural justice or fair hearing in deciding the disputes.
Thus, a tribunal is an adjudicating body that decides on controversies between the parties and exercises judicial powers and thus possesses some of the characteristics of a Court, but not all.
The power of adjudication must be derived from a Statute and not from an agreement between the parties.
Tribunals are divided into two types
When a tribunal is established for a special purpose or a specific field, then it is called a special tribunal.
The following bodies are some of the important Special Tribunals:
- Arbitrator under Industrial Disputes Act
- Income Tax Appellate Tribunal
- Labour Tribunal
- Railway Rates Tribunal
- Election Commission
According to R.E. Wraith and P.G. Hutchesson, ‘Administrative Tribunals’ as “Administrative Tribunals may deal with law and policies together. They are established with the idea of independence but have at times to decide based on policies rather than law.”
To the Politician, Administrative Tribunals are part of the judicial system in that they enable the ordinary man to obtain a cheap fair, and impartial hearing when he is affected by administrative action; to the lawyer, they are not fully within the legal fold since they are, in certain respects, an appendage of bureaucracy.
CHARACTERISTICS OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL
- It has a statutory origin and was established by the Executive.
- It is not a court in the strict sense.
- It is entrusted with judicial powers of the State and performs judicial and quasi-judicial functions.
- Besides being concerned with cases in which Government is a party, Administrative Tribunals also decide disputes between two private parties, e.g., Rent Tribunal, Industrial Tribunal, etc.
- It is independent, and not subject to any interference in the discharge of its judicial functions.
- The writs of Certiorari and Prohibition are available against decisions of Administrative Tribunals.
- Administrative tribunal is not bound by strict rules of Procedure and Evidence as under the code of Civil Procedure and the Evidence Act.
- The proceedings before the Administrative Tribunal are judicial.
- The decisions of administrative Tribunals are fact-finding and then applying rules.
- The proceeding before the Tribunal starts by filing applications.
Thus, from the functions performed, it is clear that the Administrative Tribunals are neither exclusively judicial nor administrative but partly administrative and partly judicial authorities hence called quasi-judicial.
MERITS OF ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS
Strictly following Dicey’s rule of law, only the ordinary law Courts must administer the law of land. But due to the increase in the Governmental functions, ordinary Courts cannot solve the complicated problems that often arise on the administrative side. So Administrative Tribunals are established.
The reasons for the growth of Administrative Tribunals are as follows:
- The judicial system was very slow, inexpert, complex, and also expensive. So, Tribunals that were fast in disposing of cases presided by experts of technical knowledge, adopted simple procedures, and were also less expensive compared to the ordinary Law Courts were established.
- Justice is available in a speedy manner in Tribunals, as the Tribunals do not have to follow many intricate procedures, and are not bound by the strict law of Evidence or Civil Procedure Code. Hence, delay and complexity can be avoided.
- Administrative Tribunals can solve technical disputes, as they are manned by experts who can deal with specific problems.
- The Tribunals function flexibly and are not bound by their own past decisions. They are given the power to revise their own decisions and the principles of Res Judicata do not apply to their decisions.
- The ordinary Law Courts wait for the parties to the dispute to appear before them, but the Administrative Authorities can take preventive measures without such a formality E.g., licensing, rate fixing, etc., so preventive measures are more effective than punishing a person after he has committed any breach of law.
- Steps for enforcement of the prevention measures are available with Administrative Authorities. E.g., Suspension, revocation, cancellation of licenses, etc. are not available through the ordinary Law Courts.
- Law Courts follow certain procedures like giving the decision after hearing the parties and based on evidence, whereas, administrative authorities have a wide discretionary capacity and can give decisions based on the departmental policy, etc. The procedures of the tribunal are simple and pragmatic.
- Administrative Tribunal can function rapidly, cheaply, and more efficiently than an ordinary Court.
- In the modern Welfare State, tribunals take into account the policy matters than strict law in deciding the cases and hence more tribunals have come into being.
- Tribunals give greater importance to social interests involved in the cases decided by them.
DEMERITS OF ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS
The Administrative Tribunals have demerits also. They are:
- A Tribunal is not bound by the rules of procedure and evidence prescribed by the Civil Procedure Code and the Evidence Act. It is enough if the Administrative Tribunals follow only the principles of natural justice.
- The deciding authorities of the Tribunal are not legal experts nor officers trained in law. So, the decisions given by the tribunal are inferior in quality.
- There is no examination, cross-examination, or re-examination, and the adopted summary procedure is a major lacuna of the Tribunals.
- There is no uniformity in the composition and the procedure of the Tribunals.
- There is ‘Departmental bias’ in most of the Administrative Tribunals. The members are not independent of the Judges of the ordinary Courts.
- There is no uniformity in the decisions of the Tribunals.
- In the decisions of the administrative Tribunals, the reasons for the decisions are not published in detail.
SALIENT FEATURES OF ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNALS ACT, 1985
- THE Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 (Act No. XIII of 1985) has 37 sections. These 37 Sections are arranged in 5 chapters.
- Objectives: The Preamble of Act 13 of 1985 provides the objectives of the Act as follows: ‘As Act to provide for the adjudications or trial by Administrative Tribunals of disputes and complaints concerning recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State or of any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India or any corporation or society owned or controlled by the Government in pursuance of Article 323-A of the Constitution and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- Chapter–I contains three sections. Section 1 says about the short title, extent, and commencement. Section 2 provides that the Act does not apply to the naval, military, air force, etc. Section 3 gives the definitions viz. Administrative Tribunal, application, Chairman, member, notification, post, rules, services, etc.
- Service matters: The Administrative Tribunals are established to solve the service matters. Section 3(q) clearly defines what are the service matters.
- Section 3(q): ‘Service matters’ about a person, mean all matters relating to the conditions of his service in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State or of any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India, or, as the case may be, of any corporation or society owned or controlled by the Government, as respects-
- Remuneration (including allowances), pension, and other retirement benefits;
- Tenure including conformation, seniority, promotion, reversion, premature retirement, and superannuation;
- Leave of any kind;
- Disciplinary matters; or
- Any other matters whatsoever.
- Section 3(r): ‘Service rules’ as to redressal of grievances about any matter, mean the rules, regulations, orders, or other instruments or arrangements as in force for the time being concerning redressal, otherwise than under this Act of any grievances about such matters. 
In the notion of social democracy, the role of the administration is significant. In the modern era, the title role of administration has been enlarged. Consequently, it was very much needed for the administrative adjudications, by instituting adequate authority, particularly for the service-matter disputes in India. The initiation of these Tribunals has guided to the quick trial and has perpetually decreased the load on Indian Courts, which are well known to have a great number of pending cases. As a consequence, with the disclosure of the Concept of Administrative Tribunals in India, the administrative system is intensely prosperous.
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AUTHOR: Adithya Narayanan,
5 Yr BBA-LLB, SDM Law College,