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Tribunal vacancies a "perennial problem" bringing them to a standstill: Supreme Court observes while extending term of NCDRC member

"We must express our displeasure at this and this should be attended to urgently", the Supreme Court orally observed today.

Debayan Roy

While hearing a petition regarding vacancies in the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), the Supreme Court today took critical note that while such tribunals and allied forums are created to take work away from judiciary, "unmanned commissions bring them to a standstill."

The top Court was informed today by petitioner Kudrat Sandhu through Advocate Parag Tripathi that though the sanctioned strength of the NCDRC is 11 members, currently there are three vacancies among judicial members and four in the non-judicial segment.

The petitioner, therefore, urged the Court to extend the retirement dates of the currently appointed members until new appointments are made.

The Court today expressed its displeasure at how vacancies are pending at these forum, emphasising that vacancies should be addressed urgently.

"You keep creating forums to take away work from the judiciary but then you do not man them and then they come to a standstill. This is creating a problem and we must express our displeasure at this and this should be attended to urgently," Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

"We will ask the SG to take instructions. It is a perennial problem. Tribunal functioning has come to a standstill," added Justice Kaul.

Elaborating on how the top Court was trying to deal with the vacancies in High courts etc., Justice Kaul added that such vacancies cannot be allowed to continue.

"We were trying to push for the High Court appointments and we were told High Courts are taking time. We issued directions asking High Courts to look into it. The second problem is that collegium and government is not on the same page so a large number of recommendations do not go through. But the what about the appointments that have been cleared? This cannot be allowed to continue," said Justice Kaul.

SG Mehta agreed to this and stated that it will be looked into "urgently."

The three-judge Bench hearing the matter today thus extended the tenure of VK jain as member of the NCDRC for three months from May 29, when he was scheduled to retire.

The matter has now been posted for after six weeks.

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