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Central Administrative Tribunal

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in News?

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space said that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) achieved a disposal rate of around 91% in three years and there continues to be a steady rise in the disposal of cases.

History behind the formation

  • The Administrative Reforms Commission (1966-70) recommended the setting up of civil service tribunals in India to function as final appellate authorities in respect of orders inflicting the major punishments of dismissal, removal from service and reduction in rank.
  • The Supreme Court in its judgement in 1980 observed that civil servants should not waste time in fighting battles in ordinary courts and suggested the establishment of such tribunals.
  • Article 323A of the Constitution provides for the setting up of administrative tribunals for adjudication of disputes in matters pertaining to recruitment and conditions of services of persons employed in public services.
  • Parliament passed a law to establish administrative tribunals in India.
  • The Act visualizes a Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) for the Centre and state administrative tribunal for a particular state.

About CAT:

  • The CAT was created by Administrative Tribunals Act in 1985.
  • It was established under Article 323A of the Constitution of India, By the 42nd Constitutional Act.
  • Hence, they are Constitutional Bodies. 

How does CAT Function?

  • It enjoys the status and power of High Court.
  • In disposing of cases, it follows the principles and norms of natural justice.
  • Appeals against its orders lie only with the Supreme Court of India.
  • The aggrieved person may appear before it personally.
  • It is a multi-member body whose members are drawn from judicial and administrative streams so as to give it the benefit of expertise legal as well as administrative fields.
  • The administrative tribunals deal exclusively with service litigation and are free from the formalities of legal technicalities.
  • The Central Administrative Tribunal (1985) has regular benches operating at the principal seats of High Courts.

Jurisdiction of CAT

The CAT exercises original jurisdiction over all service matters concerned with:

  1. Members of the all-India services.
  2. Persons appointed to any civil service of the Union or civil post under the Union.
  3. Civilians appointed to any defence services or posts related to defence.
  4. Employees of PSUs or public sector organisations notified by the government.

Members of the defence forces, officers, Supreme Court staff, the Parliament’s secretarial staff are not covered under the CAT.

How does an administrative tribunal differ from ordinary judicial court?

  • Legal counsel may not be needed in matters requiring adjustment;
  • A degree of informality which suits to the nature of issues involved;
  • Formal rules of evidence may not be observed;
  • Decisions may be reached by expert in the subject matter as well as in the law;
  • Differences in the constitution and procedure; and
  • Facts may be developed by question and answer and conclusion reached without delay.

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