The Apex Court, with a 2:1 majority, stroke down the minimum age limit of 50 years for the appointment of various members in tribunals, prescribed by the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalization and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021.
The majority held that the rescinded provisions were not only arbitrary and discriminatory in nature, but also violated the direction of this court in the Madras Bar Association, 2020, case. In the latter case, the court directed that the advocates with minimum experience of 10 years should be made eligible for the appointment as members of tribunals.
Earlier, the minimum age stipulation had been introduced through first proviso to Section 184(1) of the Finance Act, 2017. Now, this had been added through the latest amendment which had been effected by the Ordinance, 2021.
The court, while holding the age restricting provision unconstitutional, observed that a provision which restricts the age of recruitment of members would appear as a deterrent measure for the competent advocates who sought for appointment.
Further, it was stated that appointment of an advocate at the age of 50 would be practically difficult for resuming legal practice after completion of one term, in case the advocate is not reappointed.
Moreover, the court held the provision in violation of doctrine of separation of powers. The majority elucidated that the independence of judiciary could be sustained only if its incumbents would be assured of fair and reasonable conditions of service, including adequate remuneration and secured tenure.
The amendment had been declared as violative of Article 14 of Constitution of India as it ought to exclude young advocates from the zone of consideration. This might’ve had devastating effect as the young advocates trained in subjects like indirect taxation, anti-dumping, telecom regulation, international taxation and income tax, would’ve lost the opportunity of being considered.
The Supreme Court also directed the Centre to fill-up the vacancies in tribunals without any delay. The huge number of vacancies and prolonged delay had resulted in emasculation of the tribunals which needed to be taken care of.
Dayakar Arra – Advocate | Call: 8790587665
Crime Today News – JUDICIARY