New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has pulled up the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) for staggering delays in disposing of cases relating to grievances of government officers, and urged the central administration to fill up the vacancies in the tribunal.
In its report tabled in Rajya Sabha Friday, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice said that “over 48,000 cases are still pending disposal and that over 28,000 cases are pending for 1-5 years”.
“Denial of timely justice amounts to denial of justice itself,” the report added.
The massive backlog and delay in disposing of cases defeats the very purpose of the tribunal, it observed.
“The committee notes that tribunals were established with the objective to provide speedy and inexpensive justice to the litigants. However, the level of pendency in CAT puts across a serious point that this basic object of overcoming delays in dispensation of justice is far from being achieved.”
‘Expedite process of filling up of vacancies’
Established in 1985, the tribunal deals with all cases relating to service matters that were previously dealt with by courts upto and including the high courts.
Given the long-drawn legal processes in the country and high litigation costs, it was felt that a separate tribunal be set up to deal with service-related matters like denial of promotion, empanelment, harassment, etc. of government officers like those from the IAS, IPS, among others.
However, this purpose has hardly been achieved by the under-staffed CAT, the report said. Of the sanctioned strength of 32 judicial members in the CAT, only 19 are filled up.
“The committee understands the difficulty of the Central Administrative Tribunal in handling the avalanche of litigations with its current strength,” the report said. “Therefore, the committee recommends the government to expedite the process of filling up of vacancies and ensure timely dispensation of justice.”
‘Identify the root causes of piling up of cases’
In addition, the report has also recommended that ministries and departments seek to institutionalise a pre-litigation conciliation mechanism to resolve the grievances of government servants at pre-litigation stage.
“The committee recommends the government to identify the root causes of piling up of cases in tribunals and apprise the committee of the measures taken to cut the backlog of pending cases in the Action Taken note,” the report said.
The NITI Aayog had in 2018 recommended that all tribunals be merged and rationalised to increase efficiency and reduce pendency of cases.
In its ‘Strategy for New India at 75’ report, the NITI Aayog had said: “Merge and rationalise tribunals to enhance efficiency. Appointments to tribunals must be streamlined either through a specialised agency or under the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).”
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