Supreme Court to hear pleas challenging Finance Act provisions on 23 November
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said it would hear next month a batch of pleas challenging the newly-amended Finance Act, which changed the search and selection and removal process of members and presiding officers of tribunals including the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra posted the matter for hearing on 23 November after Attorney General KK Venugopal sought some time for arguing the matter.
Venugopal told the court that he would be seeking a short adjournment for taking instructions from the government. The court had on September 4 refused to grant an interim stay on the Act.
The bench is hearing several petitions, including the one filed by CAT, challenging the constitutional validity of provisions of the Finance Act. The CAT has challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the 'Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (qualifications, experience and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017'.
The CAT said the 'Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (qualifications, experience and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017', framed under the Finance Act, provides that the search-cum-selection committee to select its administrative members will be headed by a nominee of the central government.
Earlier, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) or his nominee had a role in the selection of administrative members of CAT, the tribunal had told the court. The panel had also sought an interim stay on the provisions of the new Act and the Rules, under which a new Search-cum-Selection Committee for the post of Administrative Member would be set up.
However, on the issue of selection of CAT's chairperson and judicial members, the 2017 Rules provide that this committee would be headed by the CJI or his nominee.
The Finance Act, which came into effect from 1 April, led to the framing of the 2017 Rules which allegedly gave "unbridled" powers to the Executive to decide on the qualification of the members, their appointment and removal among other issues, one of the petitions filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said.
The apex court had earlier issued notice to the Centre on two other similar pleas filed by Ramesh and an NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE). The NGO had sought the quashing of Part 14 of the Finance Act and Rules framed under it. It alleged that the alterations brought about by the Finance Act would weaken the functioning of tribunals including the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and curtail their powers.
Senior advocate Mohan Parasaran, who had appeared for Ramesh, had submitted that the power of judiciary has been compromised by the provisions of the new law. The petition has said the changes brought about by the Act would weaken the functioning of tribunals including the NGT and curtail their powers.