Centre 'cherry-picking' candidates for tribunal appointments; SC warns contempt proceedings
The Supreme Court Wednesday came down heavily on the Centre for "cherry-picking" appointments from its tribunal waitlist rather than appointing persons recommended by the Search and Selection Committees (SCSCs). The SC further warned that it might initiate contempt proceedings against officials over the appointments made to various tribunals. Last week, it had criticized the Centre over failure in filling vacancies in various tribunals.
Following last week's rebuttal, the Centre filed an affidavit before SC on Tuesday, saying it has appointed 84 members to various tribunals since 2020 and has cleared 38 names for different tribunals since the last hearing. However, the SC accused the Centre of making appointments from the waitlist, ignoring the ones recommended by the SCSC. Notably, the SCSC is headed by SC judges.
Criticizing the Centre, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana asked, "What's the sanctity of the search-selection committees if the government simply rejects the recommendations?" "We spent weeks interviewing hundreds of candidates. Two Supreme Court judges and the finance and law secretary were part of the committee. So why reject the candidate recommended?" CJI Ramana added.
Pulling up the Finance Ministry, CJI Ramana said, "I have sent letters to the Finance Ministry over the appointment of NCLT [National Company Law Tribunal] and NCLAT [National Company Law Appellate Tribunal]. We can't go to their office to ask them to take action."
The SC also questioned the Centre over delay in the constitution of the National Tribunals Appointments Commission for appointments to the tribunals. "What happened to the National Tribunals Appointments Commission that was to be created?" "The last time you said...you agreed with us saying...the National Tribunals Commission...could be created for appointments to tribunals...But it has been several days, and we have not heard anything."
Last week, the SC had given the Centre seven days to fill vacancies in various tribunals across the country. The SC order came in the backdrop of 240 vacancies across 15 tribunals in the country. Tribunals are quasi-judicial institutions established by law. They play a key role in determining the outcome of several important legal issues.