SC asks HCs to entertain pleas filed before DRT, DRAT in view of vacancies

NEW DELHI, Dec 16: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked high courts to entertain applications that are filed before the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) and the Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT) in view of non-filling of vacancies.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said once the tribunals are constituted, the matters will be relegated back to them from the high courts.
“It was brought to our notice that there are problems regarding non-appointment of members to DRT, DRAT.To resolve the problem for the time being, we request the high courts to entertain the applications which they have to file before DRT, DRAT under Article 226…Once Tribunal is constituted, the matters can be relegated back to the Tribunal,” the bench also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said.
Senior advocate Nidhesh Gutpa, appearing for the MP Bar Council, referred to a judgment passed by the Kerala High Court which said that jurisdiction of DRT cannot be transferred to another State.
Gupta said that the Union of India has not challenged that judgment and the order has attained finality. He said that the Kerala High Court had suggested that if there was no other options available, the jurisdiction should be given to other Tribunals.
Attorney General K K Venugopal stated that as the hearings are being conducted via video-conferencing, the transfer of jurisdiction might not be causing difficulties.
Gupta, however, submitted that the virtual court hearings were not effective as only dates are given for the cases from the other state, with no substantial hearing.
The apex court then said for the time being, it will ask the committee to expedite the appointments.
The apex court had earlier reiterated the need for creation of National Tribunals Commission while emphasising on the need to have an independent body for making appointments to the tribunals across the country.
It had said that the top court in November 2020 directed the government to form the commission but nothing has happened till date.
The observations came while hearing a batch of petitions on the issue of vacancies in tribunals and the new law governing quasi judicial bodies.
The top court in November last year had directed the Centre to constitute a National Tribunals Commission (NTC), which would act as an independent body to supervise appointments and functioning as well as take care of the administrative and infrastructural needs of tribunals across the country.
There is an “imperative need” to ensure that tribunals discharge the judicial functions without any interference of the executive whether directly or indirectly, the apex court had said, adding that till the NTC is constituted, a separate wing in the Ministry of Finance shall be established to cater to the requirements of tribunals. (PTI)