By giving up the traditional theory of 'laissez faire' and the Police State,
now the State has become not only a Welfare State but more so a progressive
democratic State. As a result, State started to seek the social security and
social welfare for the common masses. According to Servai, the development of
administrative law in a Welfare State has made, administrative. Moreover, the
modern Government forced to employ a large work to carry out its diverse
The employed persons in the Government today are better educated and more aware
of their rights even if they are not in equal measures, aware of their duties
and obligations. Even those not so well educated have become politically aware
enough to be increasingly insistent on their rights.
The issues arising out of this relation are not purely legal issues. Hence, the
ordinary course of law failed to deal with all this kind of socio-economic
problems. To meet such requirement, the Governments in different countries are
assigned this Judicial type of function to Tribunals which have been created
under different statutes. India is one among them.
Hence, Tribunals play a very important role and Tribunals have been increasing
since from 1947 especially after 1976. The 42nd Amendment Act of Indian
Constitution inserted Article 323-A and Article 323-B of Constitution of India.
Tribunals function differently from Courts, from the manner of appointment to
the procedure followed, yet they seek to achieve the same objective as that of
Courts- to deliver Justice.
In Administrative law, the term Tribunal is used in a significant sense
and refers to only the adjudicatory bodies which lie outside the sphere of the
ordinary Judicial system. Technically in India, the Judicial powers are vested
in the Courts which aims to safeguard the rights of the individuals and promotes
Justice. Therefore, to institute an effective system of the Judiciary with fewer
complexities, the Judicial powers are delegated to the administrative
authorities, thus, giving rise to Administrative Tribunals or administrative
adjudicatory bodies which holds Quasi-Judicial features.
Meaning and Definition
Tribunals can be called as-Judgment Seat or Court of Justice or Board or
Committee appointed to adjudicate on claims of a particular kind. Meaning of the
Tribunal can be gathered from the various Supreme Court authorities. Therefore,
they are adjudicatory bodies (except ordinary Courts of Law) constituted by the
State and entrusted with Judicial and Quasi-Judicial functions as distinguished
from administrative or executive functions.
The Central Administrative Tribunal had been established under Article 323-A of
the Constitution of India for adjudication of disputes and complaints with
respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public
services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or other
authorities under the control of the Government.
In the statement of object and reasons on the introduction of the Administrative
Tribunals Act, 1985 it was mentioned:
“It is expected that the setting up of such Administrative Tribunals to deal
exclusively with service matters would go a long way in not only reducing the
burden of the various Courts and thereby giving them more time to deal with
other cases expeditiously but would also provide to the persons covered by the
Administrative Tribunals speedy relief in respect of their grievances.”
Initially the decision of the Tribunal could be challenged before Hon'ble
Supreme Court by filing Special Leave Petition. However, after the Supreme
Court's decision in L. Chandra Kumar's case, the orders of Central
Administrative Tribunal are now being challenged by way of Writ Petition under
Article 226/227 of the Constitution before respective High Court in whose
territorial jurisdiction the Bench of the Tribunal is situated.
History of Tribunalisation
The concept of tribunalisation came into existence in India with the
establishment of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal before the independence of
the country. After independence, a need was being felt for resolving
administrative disputes with flexibility and speed. The core objective of
tribunalisation was to provide specialised and speedy justice to the people.
After the drafting of the Indian Constitution, several rights for the welfare of
the individuals were guaranteed by the Constitution. People have the right to
speedy trials and of specialised quality which cannot be delivered by the
prevailing judicial system due to the overburden of cases and appeals,
technicalities in procedure etc.
Hence, the need for the inception of the administrative tribunals couldn't be
Growth of Administrative Tribunals
The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution introduced in Part XIV-A which included
Article 323-A and 323-B providing for constitution of tribunals dealing with
administrative matters and other issues. According to these provisions of the
Constitution of India, Tribunals are to be organized and established in such a
manner that they do not violate the integrity of the Judicial system given in
the Constitution of India which forms the basic structure of the Constitution.
The introduction of Article 323-A and 323-B of Constitution of India was done
with the primary objective of excluding the jurisdiction of the High Courts'
under Article 226 & 227, except the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India
under Article 136 of Constitution of India and for originating an efficacious
alternative institutional mechanism or authority for specific Judicial cases.
The purpose of establishing Tribunals to the exclusion of the jurisdiction of
the High Courts' was done to reduce the pendency and lower the burden of cases.
Therefore, Tribunals are organised as a part of Civil and Criminal Court system
under the supremacy of the Supreme Court of India.
From a functional point of view, an Administrative Tribunal is neither an
exclusively Judicial body nor an absolute administrative body but is somewhere
between the two. That is why an Administrative Tribunal is also called
Characteristics of Administrative Tribunals
The following are the few attributes of the Administrative Tribunals which
make them quite disparate from the ordinary Courts:
- Administrative Tribunals must have statutory origin i.e. they must be
created by statute.
- They must have some features of the ordinary Courts but not all.
- An Administrative Tribunal performs the Quasi-Judicial and Judicial
functions and is bound to act Judicially in every circumstance.
- They are not adhered by strict rules of evidence and procedure.
- Administrative Tribunals are independent and not subject to any
administrative interference in the discharge of Judicial or Quasi-Judicial
- In the procedural matters, an Administrative Tribunal possesses the
powers of a Court to summon witnesses, to administer oaths and to compel the
production of documents, etc.
- These Tribunals are bound to abide by the principle of natural justice.
- A fair, open and impartial act is the indispensable requisite of the
- The prerogative Writs of Certiorari and Prohibition are available
against the decisions of Administrative Tribunals.
Categories of Administrative Tribunals
Administrative Tribunals for service matter [Article 323-A]
Article 323-A of Constitution of India provides the establishment of
Administrative Tribunals by law made by Parliament for the adjudication of
disputes and complaints related to the recruitment and conditions of service of
Government servants under the Central Government and the State Government. It
includes the employees of any local or other authority within the territory of
India or under the control of the Government of India or of a Corporation owned
or controlled by the Government.
The establishment of such Tribunals must be at the Centre and State level
separately for each State or for two or more States. The law must incorporate
the provisions for the jurisdiction, power and authority to be exercised by
Tribunals; the procedure to be followed by Tribunals; the exclusion of the
jurisdiction of all other Courts except the Supreme Court of India.
It is Quasi-Judicial authority set up exclusively by the Parliament to provide
inexpensive and speedy relief to the litigants.
Tribunals for other matters [Article 323-B]
Article 323-B of Constitution of India empowers the Parliament and the State
Legislature to establish Tribunals for the adjudication of any dispute or
complaint with respect to the matters specified under clause (2) of Article
323-B of Constitution of India. Some of the matters given under clause (2) are a
levy, assessment, collection and enforcement of any tax; foreign exchange and
export; industrial and labour disputes; production, procurement, supply and
distribution of foodstuffs; rent and it's regulation and control and tenancy
issues etc. Such a law must define the jurisdiction, powers of such Tribunals
and lays down the procedure to be followed.
Set up for adjudication or trial of any disputes, complaints or offences related
to levy, assessment, collection and enforcement of any tax, foreign exchange,
import and export across custom frontiers, industrial and labour disputes, land
reforms by way of acquisition by the State of any estate as defined in Article
31-A or of any rights therein or the extinguishment or modification of any such
rights or by way of ceiling on agricultural land or in any other way, ceiling on
agricultural land, ceiling on urban property, elections to either House of
Parliament or the House or either House of the Legislature of a State,
production, procurement, supply and distribution of foodstuffs (including edible
oilseeds and oils) and such other goods as the President may, by public
notification, declare to be essential goods for the purpose of this Article and
control of prices of such goods, offences against laws with respect to any of
the matters specified in sub clause (a) to (g) and fees in respect of any of
It provides for the establishment of a hierarchy of tribunals and specifies the
jurisdiction, powers (including the power to punish for contempt) and authority
which may be exercised by each of the said tribunals; provide for the procedure
(including provisions as to limitation and rules of evidence) to be followed by
the said tribunals; provide for the transfer to each such tribunal of any cases
pending before any court or any other authority immediately before the
establishment of such tribunal as would have been within the jurisdiction of
such tribunal if the causes of action on which such suits or proceedings are
based had arisen after such establishment. It is set up under the joint powers
of the Parliament and the State Legislature based on the request put up by the
respective States related to Environment, Illegal Migrants, Armed Forces,
National Tax etc. governed under Special Acts.
In the landmark Judgment of ["L. Chandra Kumar Vs Union of India", 1997
(2) SCR 1186], the Supreme Court reached various conclusions as to
jurisdictional powers of the Tribunal constituted under Articles 323-A and 323-B
of Constitution of India. The Supreme Court struck down clause 2 (d) of Article
323-A and clause 3 (d) of Article 323-B on the ground that they excluded the
jurisdiction of the High Courts and the Supreme Court under Article 226/227 and
The Supreme Court ruled that the Tribunals created under Article 323-A and 323-B
of Constitution of India would continue to be the Courts of the first instance
in their respective areas for which they are constituted. The litigants are not
allowed to approach the High Courts' directly by overlooking the jurisdiction of
the concerned Tribunal.
No appeal for the decision of the Tribunal would lie directly before the Supreme
Court under Article 136 of Constitution of India but instead, the aggrieved
party would be entitled to move the High Court under Article 226 and 227 and
after the decision of the Division Bench of the High Court, the party may
approach the Apex Court under Article 136 of Constitution of India.
Similarities in scope and purport of Articles 323-A & 323-B of Constitution of
The scope and purport of the two articles, which are common, are:
- The legislature is empowered to enact a law providing for establishment
of Tribunals for the adjudication of disputes between the State and the
individual relating to certain specified matters and also to specify the
jurisdiction and powers of such Tribunals.
- The legislature can also prescribe the procedure to be followed by such
Tribunals including the period of limitation for institution of Tribunals
and the rules of evidence.
- The Law also provides for the transfer of cases pending before any Court
or other authority except the Supreme Court at the time of establishment of
each Tribunal, to such Tribunal.
- Such law could exclude the jurisdiction of all Courts except that of the
Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution of India in respect of
such specified matters.
- Such law could also confer on the Tribunal the power to punish for their
- The provisions of both the Articles have an overriding effect on other
provisions of the Constitution of India or any other law in force.
Distinction between Articles 323-A and 323-B of Constitution of India
Article 323-A of Constitution of India enables only Parliament to enact a law
for the establishment of Administrative Tribunals for deciding disputes and
complaints of Public Servants in respect of service matters of the Union and of
the States. Only one Tribunal for the Union and a separate Tribunal for each
State or for two or more States could be constituted by law made in pursuance of
Article 323-A of Constitution of India, whereas under Article 323-B of
Constitution of India, the Tribunals could be constituted in respect of any of
the matters specified in clause (2) thereof. The power to enact the law under
this Article is vested in the appropriate State legislature, i.e. either
Parliament or State legislature, according to their respective legislative
competence over each of the subjects specified in the Article.
To put in a nutshell, these two Articles provide for conferment of jurisdiction
and power of Judicial review of administrative action, vested in the High
Courts' under Article 226 of Constitution of India, on the Tribunals concerned
in respect of matters which fall within their respective jurisdiction and to
exclude the jurisdiction of the High Courts in respect of those matters so that
the parties aggrieved by the decisions of the Tribunal could only approach the
Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. The object and
purpose of the Articles is speedy disposal of cases falling under those
Objective for the establishment of Administrative Tribunals
- To provide for a forum to deal exclusively with service matters which
off loaded the burden of the cases of High Court from their jurisdiction;
- To provide inexpensive and speedy relief to Government servants in
- To provide special powers to the Tribunals to make their own special
powers and procedures and not be guided by the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 or
the Law of Evidence but to work according to rules of natural justice.
- As far as creation of Tribunals is concerned constitution is silent. No
express provision in the Constitution of India, as it stood originally,
provides for the establishment of Tribunals.
However, Articles 262 (2) and 263 (1) of the Constitution of India are
important in this regard
- Article 262 (2) of the Constitution of India provides for the creation
of Tribunal to adjudicate the disputes relating to water of interstate
rivers or valleys.
- Article 263 (1) of the Constitution of India provides for creation of
Council charged with the duty of inquiry into the disputes between States.
Apart from these two Articles, the creation of Tribunals is implied in the
Articles 136, 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India as the term
'Tribunal' is used in these Articles. However, Forty Second Constitutional
Amendment expressed the provision for the creation of Tribunals. This
Amendment opened the possibility for the proliferation of the Tribunals
system in the country.
- Article 323-A of the Constitution of India empowers the Parliament to
establish Service Tribunals, which will deal with the service matters i.e.,
recruitment, conditions of service of persons appointed to Public Services
and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or any State or any
local or other authority in India or under the control or owned by the
Government and Article 323-B of the Constitution of India empowers the
appropriate legislature to provide the law, for adjudication or trial by
Tribunals of any disputes and offences with respect to several matters.
- Further the Article 323-B of the Constitution of India is wide amplitude
and it provides that Tribunals may try certain criminal offences also. In
1985, Parliament passed the Administrative Tribunals Act in pursuant of
Article 323-A of the Constitution of India.
- And under Article 323-B of the Constitution of India, the Parliament and
State legislatures are passing law from time to time which provided for the
creation of Tribunals. The work assigned to the Tribunal is very complex in
nature. It requires qualified and experienced members to the adjudication of
the subject matters.
The development of welfarism has contributed to an increase in governmental
functions. The executive saw in this increase, a need to perform a number of
quasi-legislative and quasi- judicial functions. This gave rise to a blurring of
the traditional positions of the various wings of the government under the
doctrine of separation of powers.' The welfare state radically changed the
government's role and compelled it to involve itself in a host of wide ranging
The issues that arose from such disputes raised not only legal matters, but also
matters which affect the society at large. Courts therefore became deluged with
litigation arising directly and incidentally, from such increased government
Inherent procedural limitations made it difficult for the courts to dispose of
these cases promptly, thus leading to a huge backlog of cases at all levels of
the judiciary. Thus it was felt that specialised adjudicatory bodies, such as
tribunals, needed to be created to resolve such disputes fairly and effectively.
Though the concept and working of Tribunals and Quasi Judicial Bodies is still
new to our country, it can be concluded that in the present scenario, the
administration has become an important part of the Government as well as the
citizen's life. Due to this increasing role, it is important to establish a
competent authority for the redressal of people's grievances and adjudication of
Therefore, the concept of Administrative Tribunals was emerged and is
dynamically flourishing in India holding certain flaws and strengths. The
Administrative Tribunal plays a very important role in providing speedy and
competent adjudication to the people. It also helps the Court to lower their
burden and provide for an alternative framework with the same amount of power
Written By: Dinesh Singh Chauhan, Advocate - J&K High Court of Judicature,
Email: [email protected], [email protected]