Parliament passes Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021- All you need to know
The Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021, which aims at abolishing as many as nine appellate tribunals is based on the analysis of the data of the last three years which has shown that the tribunals in various sectors have not necessarily led to faster justice delivery.
The Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021, was passed by Rajya Sabha on August 9, 2021. The bill sets at abolishing as many as nine appellate tribunals, including the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), set up under various acts. The bill was earlier passed by Lok Sabha on August 3.
The bill was earlier passed in the Lower House by voice vote without a debate amid the ongoing protests by the opposition parties over the Pegasus row and several other issues.
The Tribunal Reforms Bill which seeks to replace the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021, was introduced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on August 2, 2021, in Lok Sabha.
Tribunal Reforms Bill, 2021: Key details
• The bill provides for the abolition of the tribunals or the authorities under various Acts by amending the Copyrights Act, 1957, Cinematograph Act, 1952, the Customs Act, 1962, the Airport Authority of India Act, 1994, the Patents Act, 1970, and the Trade Marks Act, 1999.
• The tribunals under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act, 2001, Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, and the Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act, 2002, will also be wound up.
• All the pending cases before such tribunals or the authorities will be transferred to the High Court or Commercial Court.
• The Tribunal Reforms Bill will also provide for the uniform terms and the conditions of service for Chairperson and members of various tribunals.
Why the bill has been introduced?
The bill stated that the analysis of the data of the last three years has shown that the tribunals in various sectors have not necessarily led to faster justice delivery. These tribunals are also at the considerable expense to the exchequer.
The Supreme Court of India had also deprecated the practice of tribunalisation of justice and filing of appeals directly from the tribunals to the apex court in many of its judgments.
Therefore, further streamlining of tribunals was considered necessary. It could save considerable expense to the exchequer and at the same time, also lead to the speedy delivery of justice.
The Central Government had started the process of the rationalization of Tribunals back in 2015.
Seven tribunals were abolished or merged by the Finance Act, 2017 on the basis of their functional similarity. The total number of tribunals was reduced from 26 to 19.
The reason that followed in the first phase was to close down the tribunals which were not necessary and to merge the tribunals with similar functions.
Accordingly, the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2021, was introduced in Lok Sabha on February 13, 2021. It proposed to abolish the more authorities and tribunals as well as to provide for a mechanism to file a direct appeal to the High Courts and Commercial courts, as the case may be.
However, the bill could not be passed during the Budget Session in February and the President had promulgated the Ordinance. While introducing the bill on August 2, 2021, Finance Minister also withdrew the earlier bill introduced in February 2021.