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SC slams Centre for “cherry picking” names for tribunal members

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the Centre for “cherry picking” in choosing persons as tribunal members across the country, and gave the government two weeks deadline to complete tribunal appointments with the sternly saying: “return with the appointment letters.” 

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A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana and justices D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao expressed unhappiness over the unfilled vacancies in the quasi judicial bodies across the nation, and said the condition is “pitiable”.

“We are a democratic country. You have to follow the rule of law,” Chief Justice NV Ramana said during the hearing.

“I have seen the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) appointments…. more recommendations were made. But in (the) appointments, cherry picking was done. What kind of selection is this? And the same thing (has been) done with (the) ITAT (Income Tax Appellate Tribunal) members also. We are very unhappy with how the decisions are being taken,” the Chief Justice said.

“I am also part of the NCLT Selection Committee. We interviewed 544 people… out of which we gave the names of 11 judicial members and 10 technical members. From all of these recommendations, only some of them were appointed by the government… rest of the names went to (the) wait list,” he added.

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The CJI-led bench said it is holding hands on initiating contempt proceedings against government. It also asked the Centre to give reasons for rejecting recommended names.

Attorney General K K Venugopal assured the bench that the Centre would make appointments in two weeks in the tribunals from the list of persons recommended by the search and selection committee.

He further added that the government had the right to reject recommended names.

There are around 250 posts lying vacant in various key tribunals and appellate tribunals.

The top court was hearing a clutch of petitions on the issue of vacancies in tribunals and the new law governing quasi judicial bodies.

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