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Judicial Analysis of the Power and Functions of the Administrative Tribunals

This paper mainly focuses on the power and functions of the administrative tribunals as laid down by the judiciary. These adjudicating bodies are created by the government to relive the court's burden. Through this paper, we will analyse the case laws at the length which debate the nature and functions of these administrative tribunals.

As administrative Tribunal has existed in introductory form from some time, in the year 1958, the Law Commission suggested the foundation of these tribunals to relieve to the courts from the stress of litigation as the number of cases are increasing day by day. These tribunals consist of judicial as well as administrative members to resolve service matters[1].

The Central Government also established a committee under the chairmanship of Justice J.C Shah of the Supreme Court of India in the year 1969, which also made similar recommendations[2]. The Swaran Singh Committee proposes the same idea of setting up of Tribunal in the year 1975. The purpose of setting up pf administration council is to safeguard the court from the avalanche of writ petitions and request in administration matters.

This too discovered kindness with the supreme court of India in case of K.K Dutta v. Union of India[3]. It was against this backdrop that the Parliament brings the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act, 1976 which included Part XlV-A to the Constitution. Article 323 enabled Parliament to build up administrative tribunals to control issues like recruitment and states of administration of people designated to open administrations and posts in regards to the matters of affiliation or of any state or whatever other neighbourhood body that comes in the domain of India or heavily influenced by the Indian government or of any enterprise claimed or compelled by the legislature.

At the same time, Article 323-B enables the suitable governing body, i.e. both the State legislature and the Parliament of India to set up a tribunal for the arbitration or trial of any dispute, offences or objections related to the matters like collection and enforcement of tax, the ceiling on the public property and some other issues.

Parliament was additionally enabled to recommend by the law of the jurisdiction, authority, power and strategy of such tribunals. Except for the Supreme Court, all other Courts jurisdiction was excluded under Article 136[4]. After examining all these provisions of the Constitution, Parliament established Administrative Council Act 1985 which became effective on November 1, 1985, for the foundation of administrative tribunals or courts for determining service disputes of civil servants of the Centre and State.

Evolution Of Tribunal System In India

In India, managerial settling grows after freedom and different government assistance laws was proclaimed, which vested the government of choosing detached issues on the hands of the organization. The propelled Indian Republic brought into the world with a government assistance state. Hence, the administration weight to give a large group of government assistance administration to the individuals was massive.

These quasi-judicial power acquired by the government body led to various enormous cases concerning their department. The court held that these bodies should maintain procedure as prescribed by the law while arriving at their decisions, and these bodies must stick to the principle of natural justice which was justified the 14th law commission report. Some tribunals have been made by the legislature to provide a speedy, modest and decentralised determination of disputes coming out of different welfare legislature.

Soon after the independence, these tribunals were set up in India. The main advantage of adjudicatory function is to carry out by the statutory tribunals created by the governing body to decide upon the certain disputes arising from admin decisions or to decide issues judicially.

These various administrative tribunals were governed by the statutes, rules and regulations determined by both Central as well as State government. Some of these tribunals are:

  1. Central Administrative Tribunals:

    In 1985 the Central Administration Tribunal was formed with the objective of adjudication of disputes.
  2. Customs and Excise Revenue Appellate Tribunal:

    This Tribunal was established for adjudicating complaints or offences related to the customs and excise revenue in the year 1986. The Appeals from the orders of this Custom and Excise tribunal lies with the Supreme Court of India.
  3. Election Commission:

    This Commission was formed in the year 1950 with an aim for deciding matters related to the election. This Tribunal allots election symbols to the parties and all the offence related to the election are handle by this Tribunal. The decision given by this Tribunal can also be challenged in the Supreme Court of India.
  4. Income-tax Appellate Tribunal:

    This Tribunal was constituted in the year 1961 under the Income Tax Act. These Tribunals have various offices in various cities who governs all the offences related to Income Tax. An aggrieved person can file an appeal in both the High Court and Supreme Court if an order is passed by the Commissioner or Director of income tax against that person.
  5. Railway Rates Tribunal:

    In 1989, this Tribunal was formed under the Indian Railway Act. This Tribunal adjudicates all the matters related to the railway administration. These matters can be connected to the unfair changes or low rates charged by the railway administration. The appeal can be filed against this Tribunal in the supreme court.

The period of emergency plays a vital role in the advancement of tribunals in India. At that time, it was clear that the executive did not want the legal executive to interfere with their formative plans and other decisions. Such as removing of disputes related to the election from the President office, Prime Minister and Lok Sabha Speaker beyond judicial scrutiny.

This issue was later on discussed in the year 1976 at the Chief Secretaries Conference and from all these discussions and reports of the different bodies stated above, the Parliament enacted the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act 1976.

The Parliament inserted Article 323A and 323B in the Constitution under which various tribunals were formed, and they were given the power to deal with the matters. Article 323A allows the Parliament allows the administrative tribunals to decide the issues whereas Article 323B allow the appropriate legislature to create law for these tribunals to determine the matter.

Difference between Court and Tribunals

There is a slight contrast between the tribunals and courts yet a similar way they additionally have a few similitude's too. A portion of these similitude's are the two of them are represented by the State, have legal powers and are not temporary. These two are adjudicating bodies made to deal with the disputes, yet the two of them are not the same as one another. The contrast between them makes them two distinct governing bodies.

A court of law is the fundamental thing of the judicial system, and the State gives judicial power to the court. The civil court has the intensity of the legal executive to settle the issues of civil nature into the trial. These courts can't attempt the cases which are barred by the State while choosing the case the appointed authorities are liberated from the executive.

The Officer adjudicating the claim needs to adhere to legal guidelines and procedure in the court as the cases in court is decided based on the precedent, principle of estoppel and other laws as determined by the Constitution. Whereas, the Tribunal is an agency formed by the statute. The Tribunal is an executive part of a state which performs judicial and administrative functions. The tribunals are term as a semi-legal body administered by the State.

These councils can arbitrate particular type of cases according to the Statutes. These cases are to be settled by the Administrative Tribunal under the authority of the official executive. These tribunals don't have the proper prescribed rules as it follows the principle of natural justice. These tribunals don't have the appropriate prescribed rules as it follows the principle of natural justice.

The members of Tribunal are expertise in the field of administration as they do not have the uniform training of law. The principles of law are not followed by administrative Tribunal harshly. These tribunals cannot decide 'vires' of the suit though the court can. In this way, both the Court of Law and Tribunal is not the same as one another as they play out similar function various manners.

Judicial Analysis of the Powers and Functions of the Administrative Tribunals

The Administrative Tribunal Act 1985 allows a special leave to the Supreme Court as per Article 136 of the Constitution. It is a special provision and protects all the cases that do not fall under Article 132-134. The provision to grant leave under Article 136 is on the discretion of the Supreme Court to allow appeal before itself, from any judgment, determination, an order made by any Tribunal or any court in any case or matter.

Therefore, as per Article 136, the laws of the courts and Tribunal can be appealed before the Supreme Court. However, what is a tribunal is a matter of Tribunal, and the Supreme Court of India interpreted this in its various Judgements as in the case of Bharat Bank v. Employees of Bharat Bank [5]question was arise before the five-judge bench that whether the Supreme Court can entertain the appeal filed under Article 136 against an order of the Industrial Tribunal or not. Justice Mukherjee believed that the Supreme Court could not grant the special leave as the Tribunal functions were more similar to the administrative functions rather than judicial function.

Therefore award by the Industrial Tribunal cannot be challenged before the Supreme court, but this statement was contradicted by the majority of the judges in this case. As justice Mahajan and Chief justice, Kania believed that the Industrial Tribunal has all the necessary functions similar to the other courts. They discharge no other duty other than deciding the disputes and such Tribunals can be characterised as the quasi-judicial body as it is outside the scope of the regular judicial hierarchy as the functions of these Tribunals are judicial.

The same related question was arise in the case of J&K Iron and Steel Co. Ltd. v. Iron and Steel Mazdoor Union, Kanpur[6] that the jurisdiction and authority of Industrial Tribunal are same as to the capability of the civil court. The court said these tribunals are not similar to the courts as they perform quasi-judicial functions and the Supreme court can over-ride the jurisdiction as per the Article 136 of the Constitution.

As per the Constitution of India, A hierarchy system is set under which higher Courts have a definitive position, and every other court goes under it to control all activity of subjective just as supreme forces. As for another case of Harinagar Sugar Mills v. Shyam Sunder[7], the court held that the Tribunals are the part of a court which was set up by a State according to the Constitution to practice legal capacities. It must exercise the ability to pick due to the endorsement of the law, not by voluntary submissions of the parties to its jurisdiction like a court, must decide the case equitably and reasonably. The ambit of the word 'court' is broader than council.

All the courts are Tribunal, yet all tribunals are not courts. The articulation tribunal implies the seat of an appointed judge or an official courtroom of justice[8]. Therefore, it was finally concluded by the court that the word 'tribunal' in Article 136, the expectation was to give comparative importance as 'court' as in the case of Bharat Bank v. Representatives of Bharat Bank[9].

However, in another example of Durga Shankar Mehta v. Thakur Raghuraj Singh and Ors, it was held that the word 'tribunal' stated in Article 136 of the Constitution is not the same as the Court. In any case, it incorporates inside its ambit as Tribunal is additionally an arbitrating body established by the State as perform same the functions as the court.

Further in Engineering Mazdoor Sabha v. Hind Cycles Ltd[10].
The court said that the two conditions must be satisfied for invoking Article 136(1) of the Constitution:

  • The complained act must be of judicial or quasi-judicial nature is different from executive or administrative action.
  • The authority whose act has been complained against should be either a court or a tribunal.

Moreover, the court differentiates a tribunal from the court. The court said that the expression 'court' in the practical sense is a tribunal established by a State as a part of the court which contributed to the State's natural legal forces. A tribunal as recognised from a court practices a statutory authority and decide the matters that came before it judicially or semi judicially, yet doesn't constitute a court in the practical sense.

As per the dictionary meaning the word tribunal means a seat of justice and while discharging its functions, it shares some of the court's functions. The local tribunals appointed in the departmental proceeding, and the administrative tribunals are also not covered under the scope of Article 136(1).

Tribunals which are considered by Article 136 (1), are dressed with a portion of the powers of the court. The Tribunal can ask the witnesses to appear before them by following specific rules and regulations. A technical state of evidence does not bound these tribunals, but the case is decided based on evidence present before them. These decisions are compatible with the natural principles of law.

As per Article 136, any authority or body which is constituted by the State becomes a tribunal which follows the state inherent judicial power. In the case of Durga Shankar Mehta v. Raghuraj Singh[11], the court concluded that the Tribunal, including all other governing bodies, are constituted by the State to perform Judicial function.

As per Article 136, the power given to the Constitution is in the idea of exceptional or residuary powers given to the Supreme Court a whole locale in the matter of engaging interests, by allowing of allowing special leave against any sort of judgment or request made by a court or council. The court also sees the scope of Article 136 which State that a regular court can-not appeal against the order passed by the tribunals.

Article 136 presents an optional force on the Supreme Court to give Special leave to offer from the request for any council in the domain of India[12]. The State of disclosing is perhaps annexed to a solicitation made by the assembly when it works judicially as a court in an almost modest number of issues and not concerning other authoritative order it passes.

Further, the court said in the case of Madhya Pradesh Industries Ltd. v. Union of India [13]that the principle of natural justice needs a quasi-judicial tribunal not to make any decision against the party without giving them the opportunity of safeguarding himself against the claim charged against him. However, that depends on the facts and circumstances of each case, and the Tribunal has complete discretion over it.

As to demand from the Tribunal, it can be seen that in uncommon and extraordinary conditions, the Supreme Court would not practice its ability under Article 136 to evade the High Court by engaging an appeal directly from the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and therefore dismiss the decision given by the High Court[14]. The court held in case of L. Chandra Kumar v. Relationship of India [15]that according to Article 226 high court has judicial power given to the court to review over legislative activity and a similar power is given to the Supreme court according to Article 32 of the Constitution. Further, it opined that the tribunals are capable of hearing the issues where the vires of lawfully questioned.

Notwithstanding, the tribunals, while giving their duty, can't act option of the Supreme court and the high court, which has, under the constitutional setup to enabled with such a commitment. Their ability in such manner merely is valuable, and each such decision of the council committee will be based upon assessment before a division seat of the particular High Court.

The Tribunal will accordingly test the vires of subordinate authorizations and rules. In any case, the tribunal power will be subject as a specific case that, these tribunals won't engage any inquiry related to the vires of the parent statues following the establishment rule by the Tribunal which is made by an assembly can't be said as unconstitutional. In these cases, the Tribunal approach directly to the respective high court.

Every other decision of the Tribunal will similarly rely upon examination before a Division Bench of their particular High Court. Through this case, the Supreme court try to shield the jurisdiction of the courts from encroachment by the governing body by invoking the doctrine of 'fundamental features of the Constitution'.

The main reason behind the foundation of the administrative Tribunal is to provide justice to the civil servants, which is somehow missing in the traditional system. These Tribunals are much useful as it gives the decision faster than the court and is more cost-effective for the parties.

The Supreme court has said that before taking up the appellant powers as per Article 136, the individual must uphill the statutory remedies given to him. Indeed, this is the self-imposed rule of the court to check the range of proceeding before the court. The Supreme Court said this in the case of Chandi Prasad Chokhani v. the State of Bihar[16]. It would thus be able to see that the Supreme Court cannot just be engaged in the cases from the regular court.

Yet, in addition, the instances controlled by all arbitrating bodies contributed to legal capacities. It doesn't make a difference that the rule enabling such governing bodies with an intensity of adjudication doesn't accommodate further interests and gives convincing certainty to the decisions of the Tribunal[17].

The exceptional leave to a request can be allowed by the summit court if the settling bodies including councils don't watch the standards of regular equity particularly in situations where the adjudicating authorities have given no purpose behind the choice. Additionally, advance by special leave will be permitted by the Supreme Court just in cases where there is a probability of substantial and grave injustice. Therefore, Administrative Tribunals will go far as a supplementary dispute resolution will help in limiting the number of cases pending under the watchful eye of the court.


  1. Law Commission of India, XIV REPORT OF REFORM OF JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION (1958), available at 1-50/Report14Vol1.pdf
  3. K.K Dutta v. Union of IndiaA.I.R. 1980 S.C. 2056. (India)
  4. CONSTITUTION OF INDIA, Article 323-A (2) (d), 323-B (3) (d)
  5. Bharat Bank v. Employees of Bharat Bank1950 AIR188(India)
  6. J&K Iron and Steel Co. Ltd. v. Iron and Steel Mazdoor Union, KanpurA.I.R. 1956 S.C. 231.(India)
  7. Harinagar Sugar Mills v. Shyam SunderA.I.R. 1961 S.C. 1669.(India)
  8. Durga Shankar Mehta v. Thakur Raghuraj Singh and Ors., A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 520(India)
  9. Bharat Bank v. Representatives of Bharat BankA.I.R. 1950 S.C. 188(India
  10. Engineering Mazdoor Sabha v. Hind Cycles LtdA.I.R. 1963 S.C. 874(India)
  11. Durga Shankar Mehta v. Raghuraj SinghA.I.R. 1954 S.C. 520(India)
  12. Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd. v. Workmen A.I.R. 1567 S.C. 948(India)
  13. Madhya Pradesh Industries Ltd. v. Union of India A.I.R. 1966 S.C. 671(India)
  14. Commissioner of Income Tax, Bombay v. Lakhiram Ramdas A.I.R. 1967 S.C. 338.(India)
  15. L. Chandra Kumar v. Relationship of India A.I.R. 1997 S.C. 1125.(India)
  16. Chandi Prasad Chokhani v. the State of BiharA.I.R. 1961 S.C. 1708.(India)
  17. Durga Shankar Mehta v. Raghuraj Singh A.I.R. 1954 S.C. 520. (India)

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