Powers & Limitation of Tribunal & Appeal To High Court & Supreme Court.
Judiciary in India is the system of courts which interpret and apply the law and settle various legal debates that citizens linger upon from time to time. The Indian Judiciary System administers a common law system which encompasses into the law of the land customs, securities and legislations. The Supreme Court is the apex court, and the last appellate in India while the High Courts are the top judicial bodies in the states controlled and managed by the Chief Justices of the state. Tribunals on the other hand are set up for meting out various administrative and tax related disputes.
- The decree or judgment passed by the court can be challenged on the basis of the facts of the case and the legal interpretation of the legal provisions.
- In the cases where the party to the dispute raises any objection with respect to the territorial and pecuniary of the court passing the judgment and the decree.
- On the basis of the failure of justice relating to the incompetence of the court.
- In the cases where the parties to the dispute have not joined in the original suit, in such matters appeal lies against the judgment/ decree of such court.
- Where there is a challenge to the interpretation of law which are applied by the subordinate court
- On the grounds of any defect or error or irregularity in the legal proceedings of the case
- In the cases where the substantial question of law exists and it is affecting the rights of the parties.
The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can be invoked by a certificate granted by the High Court concerned under Article 132(1), 133(1) or 134 of the Constitution in respect of any judgement, decree or final order of a High Court in both civil and criminal cases, involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. Appeals also lie to the Supreme Court in civil matters if the High Court concerned certifies : (a) that the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance, and (b) that, in the opinion of the High Court, the said question needs to be decided by the Supreme Court. In criminal cases, an appeal lies to the Supreme Court if the High Court (a) has on appeal reversed an order of acquittal of an accused person and sentenced him to death or to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than 10 years, or (b) has withdrawn for trial before itself any case from any Court subordinate to its authority and has in such trial convicted the accused and sentenced him to death or to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than 10 years, or (c) certified that the case is a fit one for appeal to the Supreme Court. Parliament is authorised to confer on the Supreme Court any further powers to entertain and hear appeals from any judgement, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a High Court.
The Supreme Court has also a very wide appellate jurisdiction over all Courts and Tribunals in India in as much as it may, in its discretion, grant special leave to appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any Court or Tribunal in the territory of India.
The Central Government shall constitute an Appellate Tribunal to be called the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal consisting of as many judicial and technical members as it thinks fit to exercise the powers and discharge the functions conferred on the Appellate Tribunal by this Act. A judicial member shall be a person who has for at least ten years held a judicial office in the territory of India or who has been a member of the Indian Legal Service and has held a post in Grade I of that service or any equivalent or higher post for at least three years, or who has been an advocate for at least ten years.
- It has the power to control over all the courts and tribunals within its jurisdiction except in the matters of Armed Forces under Article 227.
- It has the power to withdraw a case pending before any subordinate court if it involves the substantial question of law.
- It is a Court of Record like the Supreme Court which involves recording of judgements, proceedings etc (Article 215).
- Under the Article 13 & 226 High Court has the power of judicial review. They have the authority to declare any law or ordinance as unconstitutional if it seems to be against the Constitution of India.
- It can appoint the administration staff according to the need and can decide their salaries, allowance etc.
- It issues the rules and regulations for the working of subordinate courts.
- Power to punish for contempt (civil or criminal) of court with simple imprisonment for 6 months or fine up to Rs. 2000. Civil contempt means wilful disobedience to any judgment. Criminal contempt means doing any act which lowers the authority of the court or causing interference in judicial proceedings.
- Judicial review to examine the constitutionality of legislative enactments and executive orders. The grounds of review are limited by Parliamentary legislation or rules made by the Supreme Court.
- Deciding authority regarding the election of President and Vice President.
- Enquiring authority in the conduct and behaviour of UPSC members.
- Withdraw cases pending before High Courts and dispose of them themselves.
- Appointment of ad hoc judges- Article 127 states that if at any time there is a lack of quorum of Judges of Supreme Court, the CJI may with the previous consent of the President and Chief Justice of High Court, concerning request in writing the attendance of Judge of High Court duly qualified to be appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court.
- Appointment of retired judges of the Supreme Court or High Court – Article 128 states that the CJI at any time with the previous consent of the President and the person to be so appointed can appoint any person who had previously held the office of a Judge of SC.
- Appointment of acting Chief Justice- Article 126 states that when the office of CJI is vacant or when the Chief Justice is by reason of absence or otherwise unable to perform duties of the office, the President in such a case can appoint a Judge of the court to discharge the duties of the office.
- Revisory Jurisdiction- The Supreme Court under Article 137 is empowered to review any judgment or order made by it with a view to removing any mistake or error that might have crept in the judgement or order.
- Supreme Court as a Court of Record- The Supreme Court is a court of record as its decisions are of evidentiary value and cannot be questioned in any court.
- A Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), but shall be guided by the principles of natural justice and subject to the other provisions of this Act and of any rules made by the Central Government, the Tribunal shall have power to regulate its own procedure including the fixing of places and times of its inquiry and decided whether to sit in public or in private.
- A tribunal shall decide every application made to it as expeditiously as possible and ordinarily every application shall be decided on a perusal of documents and written representations and after hearing such oral arguments as may be advanced.
- A Tribunal shall have, for the purposes of discharging its functions under this Act, the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), while trying a suit, in respect of the following matters, namely :
(a) Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath;
(b) requiring the discovery and production of documents;
(c) receiving evidence on affidavits;
(d) subject to the provisions of section 123 and 124 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872), requisitioning any public record or document or copy of such record or document from any office;
(e) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or, documents;
(f) reviewing its decisions;
(g) dismissing a representation for default or deciding it ex parte;
(h) setting aside any order of dismissal of any representation for default or any order passed by it ex parte; and
(i) any other matter which may be prescribed by the Central Government.
The limitation for filing an appeal from a sentence of death passed by court of sessions or the High Court in its original jurisdiction is 30 days and from any other sentence or order to the High Court is 60 days and to any other court is 30 days.
The period of limitation against an order of acquittal is 90 days but where appeal against such order has to be made after seeking special leave of the court, the period of limitation is 30 days.
- If an appeal under Section 37 is preferred against an arbitral award in arbitration less than the Specified Value, the same would be governed by Article 116 / Article 117 of the Limitation Act. Under these provisions, the limitation period is computed in the manner recorded in Table I above.
- If an appeal under Section 37 is preferred against an arbitral award in arbitration of a dispute of the Specified Value, the appeal will be governed by Section 13(1A) of the Commercial Courts Act, 2010(hereinafter referred as “CC”) . The limitation period provided under the CC Act being a special law would apply as compared with the Limitation Act which is a general law, as per section 29(2) of the Limitation Act. Section 13(1A) of the CC Act lays down a period of limitation of 60 days for all appeals; this would therefore be the limitation period for filing an appeal under Section 37 of the A&C Act. The Supreme Court considered the judgment in Kandla Export Corpn. v. OCI Corporation, to deal with the interplay between Section 13 of the CC Act and Section 37 of the A&C Act.
- Against the Rule of Law: It can be observed that the establishment of the administrative tribunals has repudiated the concept of rule of law. Rule of law was propounded to promote equality before the law and supremacy of ordinary law over the arbitrary functioning of the government. The administrative tribunals somewhere restrict the ambit of the rule of law by providing separate laws and procedures for certain matters.
- Lack of specified procedure: The administrative adjudicatory bodies do not have any rigid set of rules and procedures. Thus, there is a chance of violation of the principle of natural justice.
- No prediction of future decisions: Since the administrative tribunals do not follow precedents, it is not possible to predict future decisions.
- Scope of Arbitrariness: The civil and criminal courts work on a uniform code of procedure as prescribed under C.P.C and Crpc respectively. But the administrative tribunals have no such stringent procedure. They are allowed to make their own procedure which may lead to arbitrariness in the functioning of these tribunals.
- Absence of legal expertise: It is not necessary that the members of the administrative tribunals must belong to a legal background. They may be the experts of different fields but not essentially trained in judicial work. Therefore, they may lack the required legal expertise which is an indispensable part of resolving disputes.