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1. The disputes and decisions are restricted by the rules of evidence. 1. The disputes and decisions are not restricted by the rules of evidence.
2. They have the power and authority to handle both civil disputes and criminal cases. 2. They have authority over the disputes that are less formal.
3. Ultimate authority to grant imprisonment and bail, on the basis of decision. 3. Ultimate authority to extract compensation from the guilty.
4. The system has a specific code of procedure which is mandatory to follow. 4. Tribunals do not have to follow any such procedures,
5. Court judges are impartial and are never a party to the dispute. 5. A Tribunal may represent itself as a party in a dispute.
6. Courts are headed by a Judge, a panel of Judges or a Magistrate. 6. Tribunals are headed by the Chairperson and other Judicial Members.

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Tribunals (Let's learn about Tribunals in detail first)

The term Tribunal is derived from 'Tribunes', the magistrate of the Classic Roman Republic. Tribunal often refers to the office of Tribunes and the term is usually used in a historical sense. In historical times, the Tribunal was a raised platform at which the highest authority sat to pronounce the Judgement of the disputes.

A Tribunal may be described in layman’s language as any person or institution(s) with the authority to pass Judgement, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes. An example for such is a normal Court Procedure in which an Advocate (on someone’s behalf) appears before the Hon'ble Court with a single judge or a bench of Judge(s) as 'their tribunal'. There are many governmental organizations that are titled 'Tribunals' that are described to emphasize that they differ from usual courts. For example, Employment Tribunals are bodies that are set up to hear specific employment disputes. In many cases, a tribunal implies a judicial body with a lesser degree of formality than a court, to which the normal court proceedings do not apply, nor the positions entitled. In Great Britain, the Employment Appeal Tribunal is a superior court of Record.

Important Tribunals In India (Detailed Analysis)

There are tribunals for settling various administrative and tax-related disputes:

  • Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT),
  • Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT),
  • Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT),
  • National Green Tribunal (NGT),
  • Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) and
  • Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT), among others.

In several states, Food Safety Appellate Tribunals have been created to hear appeals against orders of adjudicating officers for food safety (additional deputy commissioners). Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) is a military tribunal in India. It was established under the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.

These are the working Tribunals of our Country and none of them follow the original Court Proceedings and nor the severe Punishments. Let us understand them in details

Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT)

Article 323 – A: The Central Administrative Tribunal had been established under Article 323 – A of the Constitution 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 pursuance of Article 323-A, the Parliament has passed the Administrative Tribunals Act in 1985. The act authorizes the Central government to establish one Central Administrative Tribunal and the state administrative tribunals. This act opened a new chapter in the sphere of providing speedy and inexpensive justice to the aggrieved public servants.

NOTE: There are 17 Benches and 21 Circuit Benches in the Central Administrative Tribunal all over India.

Objective and Composition: The CAT is a specialist body consisting of Administrative Members and Judicial Members who by virtue of their specialized knowledge are better equipped to dispense speedy and effective justice. It was established in 1985.

A Chairman who has been a sitting or retired Judge of a High Court heads the Central Administrative Tribunal.

Operating Principles-

It exercises jurisdiction only in relation to the service matters of the parties covered by the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985. The Tribunal is guided by the principles of natural justice in deciding cases and is not bound by the procedure, prescribed by the Civil Procedure Code.

Under Section 17 of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985, the Tribunal has been conferred with the power to exercise the same jurisdiction and authority in respect of contempt of itself as a High Court.


The conditions of service of the Chairman and Members are the same as applicable to a Judge of High Court as per the Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Act, 2006.

Appeals against Orders

The orders of the Central Administrative Tribunal are challenged by way of Writ Petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution before the respective High Court in whose territorial jurisdiction the Bench of the Tribunal is situated.

Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT)

India’s Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) was set up on 25 January 1941, and it was the first experiment in tribalization in the history of India. It is the second appellate authority under the direct taxes and the first independent forum in its appellate hierarchy. The orders passed by the ITAT can be subjected to appellate challenge, on substantial questions of law, before the respective High Court.

With a view to ensuring the highest degree of independence of the ITAT, it functions under the Department of Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Law and Justice and is kept away from any kind of control by the Ministry of Finance.

The appeals before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal are generally heard by a division bench- consisting of one judicial member and one accountant member. In cases involving assessed income of less than₹15 lakh (US$21,000), however, any one member, though with a work experience of minimum of five years in the Tribunal, can decide the appeals in a single-member bench as well. Monetary limit for deciding an appeal by a single member Bench of ITAT enhanced from ₹15 lakh (US$21,000) to ₹50 lakh (US$70,000) in 2016 Union budget of India. In case of conflict of opinions by the division benches on the issues involved in an appeal, the appeals are sometimes heard by the special benches consisting of three of more members- at least one of which must be a judicial member and at least one of which must be an accountant member.

The Indian Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is considered to be a very successful experiment in tribunalization and is often cited to justify more steps in this direction.

Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT)

The Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) is an Indian quasi-judicial body that hears appeals against orders and decisions passed under the Customs Act, 1962 and Central Excise Act, 1944 as amended from time to time. It was constituted as Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal (CEGAT) under section 129 of Customs Act, 1962, as amended by section 50 and the Fifth Schedule of Finance (No. 2) Act, 1980. These amendments became effective from 11 October 1982 and the Tribunal was also constituted on the same date. Its initial mandate was under Customs Act, 1962, Central Excise Act, 1944 and Gold (Control) Act, 1968. Service tax was introduced by Chapter V of Finance Act, 1994 and this also was added to the jurisdiction of CEGAT. Accordingly, the name of the Tribunal was changed to Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) by amending section 129 of the Customs Act, by section 119 of Finance Act, 2003, effective from 14 May 2003.

The Tribunal also has appellate jurisdiction in Anti Dumping matters and the Special Bench headed by the President, CESTAT, hears appeals against the orders passed by the Designated Authority in the Ministry of Commerce.

According to Section 86, any assessment order passed by Commissioner of Central Excise under section 73 or Section 83A or orders of revision by Commissioner of Central Excise under Section 84 or orders of the Commissioner of Central Excise (Appeals) under Section 85 are appealable before the Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) by any of the aggrieved parties i.e., assessee, Commissioner of Central Excise or the Board.

The Government had a law enacted in 1986, to create a Tribunal empowered like a High Court, called Customs and Excise Revenues Appellate Tribunal. Most powers of CESTAT were to be diverted to CERAT. This Act was not operationalized due to multiple difficulties including court cases, making an amendment necessary. This Act was later repealed by Customs and Central Excise Laws (Repeal) Act, 2004.

National Green Tribunal (NGT)

The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables the creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues. It draws inspiration from India’s constitutional provision of (Constitution of India/Part III) Article 21 Protection of life and personal liberty, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment. Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) is a department to control pollution in Delhi.

The legislate Act of Parliament defines the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 as follows:

'An Act to provide for the establishment of a National Green Tribunal for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.'

Function & Working of NGT -

The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts. The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice. The tribunal is mandated to make and endeavors for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of the filing of the same. Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible; New Delhi is the Principal Place of Sitting of the Tribunal, and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai shall be the other place of sitting of the Tribunal.

Structural Belt -

The Principal Bench of the NGT is in New Delhi. It has regional benches in Pune (West), Bhopal (Central), Chennai (South), and Kolkata (East). Each Bench has a specified geographical jurisdiction in a region. Further, mechanisms for circuit benches are also available. For example, the Southern Zone bench, which is based in Chennai, can decide to have sittings in other places like Bangalore or Hyderabad.

The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court. It is headquartered in New Delhi. On 18 October 2010, Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta became its first Chairman. Retired justice Adarsh Kumar Goel is the incumbent chairman. Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts. Each bench of the NGT will comprise at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member. Expert members should have a professional qualification and a minimum of 15 years of experience in the field of environment/forest conservation and related subjects.

Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT)

The Competition Appellate Tribunal is a statutory organization established under the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002 to hear and dispose of appeals against any direction issued or decision made or order passed by the Competition Commission of India under sub-section (2) and (6) of section 26, section 27, section 28, section 31, section 32, section 33, section 38, section 39, section 43, section 43A, section 44, section 45 or section 46 of the Competition Act, 2002.

The Appellate Tribunal shall also adjudicate on a claim for compensation that may arise from the findings of the Competition Commission of India or the orders of the Appellate Tribunal in an appeal against any findings of the Competition Commission of India or under section 42A or under sub-section (2) of section 53Q of the Act and pass orders for the recovery of compensation under section 53N of the Act.

Structure and Design -

The Central Government set up the Appellate Tribunal on 15th May, 2009 having its headquarters at New Delhi. Hon’ble Dr. Justice Arijit Pasayat, former Judge of Supreme Court, was appointed as the First Chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal. Besides, the Chairperson, the Appellate Tribunal consisted of not more than two Members to be appointed by the Central Government. The Chairperson of the Appellate Tribunal shall be a person, who is, or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or the Chief Justice of a High Court. A Member of the Appellate Tribunal shall be a person of ability, integrity, and standing having special knowledge of, and professional experience of not less than twenty-five years in, competition matters, including competition law and policy, international trade, economics, business, commerce, law, finance, accountancy, management, industry, public affairs, administration or in any other matter which in the opinion of the Central Government, may be useful to the Appellate Tribunal. The Chairperson or a Member of the Appellate Tribunal shall hold office for a term of five years and shall be eligible for re-appointment. Provided that no Chairperson or other Member of the Appellate Tribunal shall hold office after he has attained the age of sixty-eight years or sixty-five years respectively.

Every appeal shall be filed within a period of 60 days from the date on which a copy of the direction or decision or order made by the Competition Commission of India is received and it shall be in the prescribed form and be accompanied by the prescribed fees. The Appellate Tribunal may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the period of 60 days if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing it within that period.

The Appellate Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), but shall be guided by the principles of natural justice and, subject to the other provisions of this Act and of any rules made by the Central Government. The Appellate Tribunal shall have, for the purposes of discharging its functions under the Act, the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908). Every order made by the Appellate Tribunal shall be enforced by it in the same manner as if it were a decree made by a court in a suit pending therein. If any person contravenes, without any reasonable ground, any order of the Appellate Tribunal, he shall be liable for a penalty of not exceeding rupees one crore or imprisonment for a term up to three years or with both as the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi may deem fit.

Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT)

Securities Appellate Tribunal is a statutory body established under the provisions of Section 15K of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act (SEBI) 1992, to hear and to dispose of appeals against orders passed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India or by an adjudicating officer under the Act.

SAT consists of -

  • A Presiding Officer
  • Two other members

The SAT shall have, for the purpose of discharging their functions under this Act, the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the code of civil procedure 1908 while trying a suit, in respect of the following matters namely

  • Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examine him on oath,
  • Requiring the discovery and production of documents,
  • Receiving evidence on affidavits,
  • Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents
  • Reviewing its decisions,
  • Dismissing an application for default or deciding it ex-parte,
  • Setting aside any order or dismissal of any applicable for default or any order passed by it ex-parte and
  • Any other matter which may be prescribed

Appeal to SAT -

  • Any person aggrieved,
  • By an order of SEBI made, under this Act, or
  • By an order made by an adjudicating officer under this act, may prefer an appeal to an SAT having jurisdiction in the matter.

Time Limit -

Every appeal shall be filed within 45 days from the date on which a copy of the order made by SEBI or the adjudicating officer is received by him and accompanied by such form and fees as may be prescribed.

The SAT may entertain an appeal after the expiry of the said period of 45 days if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing it within that period.

The appeal shall be made in 3 copies, with additional copies for each additional Appeal shall be signed by the authorized person. On receipt of the appeal, the SAT may, after giving the parties to the appeal an opportunity of being heard, pass such order thereon as it thinks fit, confirming, modifying or setting aside the order appealed against and such appeal shall be disposed within 6 months from the date of receipt of the appeal.

Now, the question is how to appear before SAT?

Appearance before SAT may be either in person or through an authorized person being a Chartered Accountant, Company Secretary, Cost Accountant or Legal Practitioner.

An appeal against the order of SAT

Any person aggrieved by any decision or order of the SAT can file an appeal to the Supreme Court. The appeal can be filed only on a question of law. The appeal shall be filed within 60 days from the date of receiving a copy of the decision or order of SAT. The supreme court may allow a further period of 60 days for making an appeal if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal within the first 60 days.

Civil court not to have Jurisdiction

No civil court shall have Jurisdiction to entertain any suit or proceedings in respect of any matter which an Adjudicating Officer appointed under this act or a SAT constituted under this act is empowered by or under this act to be determined.

No injunction shall be granted by any court or other authority in respect of any action taken or to be taken in pursuance of any power conferred by or under this act.

COURTS (Shortly)

The Judiciary system of India or the Court System of India is the one that interprets and applies the law. The role of the Court is to decide the cases by determining the relevant facts and laws and later applying them to the relevant and specific laws that follow. The Complete System administers a common law system in which the customs, securities and legislation, all are based on the Law of Land.

It has in fact inherited the legacy of the legal system established by the then colonial powers and the princely states since the mid-19th century.

The Judicial system of India is classified into three levels with subsidiary parts.

  • The Supreme Court of India, also known as the Apex Court, is the top court and the last appellate court in India, and the Chief Justice of India is its top authority.
  • High Courts are the top judicial bodies in the states controlled and managed by Chief Justices of States.
  • District Courts, also known as subordinate courts, controlled and managed by the District & Sessions Judges.

Here is a list of all the District Courts of Delhi: (For a reference)

  1.  Rohini District Court,
  2. Dwarka District Court,
  3. Saket District Court,
  4. Karkarduma District Court,
  5. Patiala District Court
  6. Rouse Avenue or Labour Court and
  7. Tis Hazari District Court

The subordinate court system is further classified into two: the Civil Court court of which a Sub-Judge is the head followed by the Munsif Court of the lower level, and the criminal court headed by Chief Judicial/Metropolitan Magistrate at top and followed by ACJM /ACMM & JM/MM at the lower level.

Another court is the executive & revenue court which are managed and controlled by the state government through District Magistrate & Commissioner, respectively. Although the executive courts are not the part of judiciary but various provisions and judgments empower the High Courts and the Session Judges to inspect or direct the working of executive courts.

The Ministry of Law & Justice at the Union level is responsible for raising issues before parliament for the proper functioning of the judiciary. The Ministry of Law & Justice has complete jurisdiction to deal with the issues of any courts of India, from SC to Subordinate and Executive Courts. It also deals with the appointment of Judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court. At the state level, the law departments of the states deal with the issues of the High Court and the Subordinate Courts. The constitution provides for the single unified judiciary in India.


Courts are very formal and part of a complex system that obeys the law laid down by the Constitution. There are separate guidelines for all kinds of disputes, be it criminal or civil and there is a particular procedure that needs to be followed by the parties to the dispute. The judgments in courts are passed by the supreme authority i.e. the Judges, a Bench or a Magistrate. Tribunals, on the other hand, are not as complex as the courts are. The cases are less formal and the rules and regulations are simple and stable. The judgment in a tribunal is passed by a chairperson and the judicial members.

In summary, both the courts and tribunals have their own importance and are the backbone of the legal system at minor and major levels. Both are crucial in their own special ways.

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