‘Until 60 percent appointments are done in CAT, members will not retire’, orders of Supreme Court

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    About 60 percent posts are running vacant in CAT, Supreme Court expressed displeasure over the attitude of the government

The Supreme Court has taken a tough stand regarding the appointment of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) vacancies. The Supreme Court has said that now CAT members will not retire until the government appoints at least 60 percent of the total strength by making appointments to the vacant posts of the tribunal. The Supreme Court has given this order out of anger due to the lax and apathetic attitude of the government.

The court has given this order using special power under Article 142 of the Constitution. CAT came into existence to resolve disputes between Central Administrative Services. At present, 69 posts of its administrative and judicial members are approved. There have been no new appointments for many years. Due to continuous time bound retirement, the situation has now become such that 40 out of 69 posts have become vacant.

Despite the constant rebuke of the Supreme Court, when the government did not take any concrete steps regarding the recruitment of vacant posts, then the bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant gave this order. The bench has said in its order that 37 years ago, CAT was formed in 1985 to settle administrative, departmental disputes between the officers of the Administrative Service pending in the courts and to reduce the burden of these cases from the courts. At the time of formation 13500 cases were referred to the Tribunal. In the last 37 years, instead of decreasing, their number kept increasing and these cases have crossed 50 thousand. At present, the work is going on at only about 40 percent capacity.

The Supreme Court has said that due to the lack of members, it is becoming difficult to form a separate bench at the same place. Virtual jugaad has been taken to get rid of this problem. Now members present in different cities join the bench and settle matters through virtual hearings. Angered by the attitude of the government, the bench said that this unfortunate situation is increasing the challenge of getting justice for the common people.

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The court also said that now should we pass an order that the disgruntled officers should go to the High Court instead of the Tribunal to get justice? Looking at the stand of the court, Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh has said that the government has issued an advertisement in April to fill 34 vacant posts of CAT. The recruitment process for the recruitment is expected to be completed by the end of July.

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