Law Commission to examine the statutory framework for Tribunals and it’s impact on the functioning of Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Showing serious concern over the routine appeals to the highest court that result in obstruction of the Constitutional role assigned to the highest court, the Court said that such practice affects the balance required to be maintained by the highest court of giving priority to cases of national importance, for which larger Benches may be required to be constituted and hence, routine direct appeals to the highest court in commercial litigation affecting individual parties without there being any issue of national importance may call for reconsideration at appropriate levels.

The Court was hearing the appeal by the Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd against the order of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity in the dispute arising out of the Power Purchase Agreement. Holding the order of the Tribunal erroneous, the Court took note of the vital issue of composition and functioning of Tribunals and statutory framework thereof especially its impact on working of the Highest Court and in turn on the rule of law and hence, asked the Law Commission to consider the below mentioned questions:

  • Whether any changes in the statutory framework constituting various Tribunals with regard to persons appointed, manner of appointment, duration of appointment, etc. is necessary for strengthening the rule of law?
  • Whether it is permissible and advisable to provide appeals routinely to this Court only on a question of law or substantial question of law which is not of national or public importance without affecting the constitutional role assigned to the Supreme Court having regard to the desirability of decision being rendered within reasonable time?
  • Whether direct statutory appeals to the Supreme Court bypassing the High Courts from the orders of Tribunal affects access to justice to litigants in remote areas of the country?
  • Whether it is desirable to exclude jurisdiction of all courts in absence of equally effective alternative mechanism for access to justice at grass root level as has been done in provisions of TDSAT Act (Sections 14 and 15).

The bench of Anil R. Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel, JJ asked the Law Commission to submit the report within one year, if possible and directed that the matter be placed before a 3-judge bench in November, 2017. [ Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd. v. Essar Power Limited, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 803, decided on 09.08.2016]

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