The Supreme Court, on Monday, took a stern view over vacant posts at the various Tribunals and Quasi-Judicial bodies across the country and told the Centre that, "You are emasculating the Tribunals by not making the appointments." While posting the matter on September 13, the Bench expressed a hope that the Centre will make appointments before the next date of hearing. The Court also warned to initiate Contempt of Courts proceedings against the Centre.

The Bench was hearing a batch of petitions seeking appointment of Presiding Officers at various Tribunals and challenging the Tribunal Reforms Act passed in this monsoon session parliament, including the one filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. There are around 250 posts lying vacant at various key Tribunals and appellate Tribunals such as NCLT, DRT, TDSAT and NCLAT.

"It is clear that you do not want to respect the judgments of this Court. Now, we have the option to stay the Tribunal Reforms Act or close down the tribunals or we ourselves appoint the people or the next option is to initiate the Contempt Of Courts proceedings," the Bench of Chief Justice NV Ramanna and Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao reacted strongly while hearing the case.

"We do not want confrontation with the government and we are happy with the way the nine Supreme Court judges were appointed. The entire legal fraternity appreciated this...these Tribunals are collapsing with no members or chairpersons. Tell us about your alternative plans," it observed.

On this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, "The government does not want any confrontation either and sought time on the grounds that Attorney General KK Venugopal, who has been assisting the Bench in these matters, has been facing some personal difficulties."

The Court took note of the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and adjourned the matter for further hearing to September 13. Asserting that it did not want any confrontation with the government, the Bench stated that it wanted the Centre to make some appointments to the Tribunals facing huge vacancies. "We hope the appointments will be made by then," the Bench observed.

On August 16 the Court had termed "serious" the passage of Bill on Tribunals with the provisions, struck down earlier, without any debate in Parliament. The Court had then granted 10 days to the Centre to make appointments to the tribunals. The Bench had given details of pending vacancies in 15 quasi-judicial bodies such as Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRTs), DRAT, Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT), Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and National Companies Law Appellate Tribunal or NCLAT.

There are 19 vacant positions of Presiding Officers or the Chairpersons in these Tribunals, besides 110 and 111 posts of Judicial and Technical Members respectively lying vacant.

With PTI inputs