Delhi High Court: Tribunals to have Jurisdiction in Entrusted Matters before High Courts

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Justice Jyoti Singh delivered the judgment in the case of Prabhat Ranjan Deo v. Union Public Service Commission. It relied on an authoritative decision of the Supreme Court. It states that one can approach the High Courts when there is a challenge to the parent statute of any Tribunal.

Brief facts of the case

The Petitioner questions the appointment of Respondent No. 4 as DGP, State of Haryana. There is a doubt on the empanelment, as well as the appointment by the UPSC dated 18.02.2019.

The Supreme Court did not entertain his Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. It directed the Petitioner to “approach the jurisdictional High Court if so advised.” Hence, he filed this writ petition.

Respondent’s Arguments

The Respondents object the present petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. They submit that the Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition and stated that IPS is an All India Service. The Petitioner is under the jurisdiction of Central Administrative Tribunal (“the Tribunal”). The Court of ‘first instance’ for ‘service matters’ in light of Section 14(1) of Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 (‘the Act’) is the Tribunal.

The respondents relied on the decision in L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India, (1997) 3 SCC 261 among others.

Petitioner’s Arguments

The Counsel for Petitioner states that the petition talks about the liberty granted by the Supreme Court. Thus it is not open to the Respondents to raise any objection to its maintainability.

Existence of an alternate remedy is not a bar in entertaining a petition by a Writ Court. Instead, it is a rule of self-imposed limitation.

Relying on various judgments, it said that, the decision to entertain or not to entertain an action under a writ jurisdiction is a decision to be taken by the High Court on examination of the facts and circumstances.

Court’s Observations

The Court examined Article 14(1) of the Act and noted that Section 14(1)(b)(i) provides for the Tribunal to have jurisdiction in all service matters of All India Service. Section 3(q) of the Act defines ‘Service Matters’. It covers all matters relating to conditions of service and also includes matters about tenure, confirmation, seniority, promotion etc.

Furthermore, the Constitutional Bench decision in L. Chandra Kumar vs Union of India, (1997) 3 SCC 261 was taken into account. The Supreme Court held that the Tribunals are competent to hear matters entrusted to them. They will act as only Courts of ‘first instance’ in respect of the areas of law for which they have been constituted. However, the Tribunals cannot entertain a challenge to the parent statute, which created it. The Court stated that “Tribunal, which is a creature of an Act, cannot declare that the very Act to be unconstitutional.” It is only in this case that the High Court concerned may be approached.

Also, all decisions of the Tribunal are subject to scrutiny by a Division Bench of the concerned High Court. The High Court exercises its power of Judicial Review.

The Supreme Court further observed that the jurisdiction conferred upon the High Courts under Articles 226/227. The Court, as a result of this, declared that this is a part of the inviolable basic structure of the Constitution. However, the other Courts and Tribunals may perform a supplemental role in discharging the powers conferred on the High Court.

The Court clarified that the Tribunal is not an ‘alternative’, but is the ‘only’ Forum available to the Petitioner. Therefore, the Petitioner does not have a choice not to approach the Tribunal for a remedy. The reason is that the Court does not have the discretion to entertain this petition.

Court’s Decision

In the present case, the Supreme Court’s direction to approach the High Court is to be read with the judgment in L. Chandra Kumar.

Given the judgement in L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India, (1997) 3 SCC and Section 14(1) read with Section 3(q) of the Act, the present petition is not maintainable in this Court. Hence, it is dismissed.


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