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BACKGROUND

  • The Madras Bar Association filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court, challenging Sections 184 and 186 (2) of the Finance Act, 2017 as amended by the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021, The second first proviso to Section 184(1) lays down that a person below the age of 50 years shall not be eligible for appointment as Chairperson or Member of the tribunal.
  • Second proviso read with the third deals with the house rent allowance that will be payable to the members of the Tribunal.
  • Section 184(7) deals with the appointment of Chairperson or Member and recommendation by the Selection Committee.
  • Section 184 (11) lays down that that the term of office of the Chairperson and Member of a tribunal shall be four years and it will take effect retrospectively.

SUBMISSIONS

  • Mr. Arvind P. Datar, Amicus Curiae for the Court submitted that the ordinance is against the principles of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary.
  • He also submitted that the minimum age limit of 50 years for the appointment and Section 184(7) is contrary to the directions of the Court given in Madras Bar Association cases of 2010 and 2020 and the Rojer Mathew case.
  • He stated that Section 184(11) is unconstitutional.

SUBMISSIONS BY THE STATE (UOI)

  • Attorney General, K. K Venugopal refuted the submissions of the Amicus Curiae and other senior counsels and stated that a judgment of a Court can be overridden by the Legislature.
  • He also submitted that the ordinance cannot be challenged on the ground that it is contrary to the judgment of this Court in Madras Bar Association of 2020 and the minimum age for appointment to tribunals fixed at 50 years is aimed to maintain equality.
  • He mentioned that tenure of four years was decided after due deliberation by the Government and other provisions were also passed after looking into the consequences.

JUDGMENT

  • The majority of the Bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat allowed the writ petition filed by Madras Bar Association and set aside the provision that fixed the tenure of Tribunal members to 4 years because it violated the directions of the Court in the earlier judgment.
  • The Bench also struck down the provision fixing the minimum age limit for appointment as Tribunal members as 50 as it was contrary to the previous judgments of the Court.
  • The provision prescribing that the Search cum Selection Committee will recommend two names for each post was also struck down, as it was also contrary to the directions of the Court in earlier judgments, stating that the Committee should recommend only one person.

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