Today’s Thursday activity, a guest lecture, revolved around the topic : Tribunalization in India. The guest of honour was Mr. Navdeep Singh, Advocate (Lawyer) in the Punjab & Haryana High Court, practicing mostly on the Writ and Constitutional side and specializing in military law and service (employment related) matters. He is a Member of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War at Brussels, which is actively engaged in putting in global efforts to bring in reforms in Military Justice. He is a former Major, has been a national service volunteer-reservist with the Territorial Army, and has been decorated with a record number of Commendations (ten) from the Army & the Air Force for his efforts. Mr. Navdeep Singh was chosen to be a part of a Committee of Experts, formed by the Defence Minister on the directions of the Prime Minister of India for reducing litigation and resolving service and pension related policy disputes and for strengthening the system of redressal of grievances in the Defence Services.
The crowd welcomed the guest with enthusiasm and exuberance. The lecture was a unique one. It was more of an interactive session and the same was evident from the active participation of the crowd and their thought provoking questions to him. He emphasized to the students the importance, function and purpose of establishment of Tribunals inclusive of the challenges faced by those institutions. It was an enlightening session as he shared real life experiences and told the students about the importance, pros and cons of quasi judicial bodies.
He described Tribunals as a body of administrative character, powered with judicial powers to adjudicate on question of law or fact that affects rights of citizens and has quasi-judicial functions. Since tribunals follow the principles of natural justice, they do not follow laws commonly followed in Courts. He briefed us on the historical background of Tribunals. They were added in the Constitution by Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976. In general sense, the ‘tribunals’ are not courts of normal jurisdiction, but they have very specific and predefined work area e.g NGT, AFT. Thus, the popularization of Tribunals is termed as Tribunalizaion. He suggested that there is a substantial difference between Tribunals vs. Ordinary Courts /Judiciary. He focused on the Positive and Negative aspects of a Tribunal.
He concluded that for ideal Tribunalization, Tribunals should be brought under the Ministry of Law and or a body similar to National Tribunal Commission i.e. which is not controlled directly by the Government and has oversight over the administration of Tribunals. If Tribunals are to be removed then courts should increase the number of judges, become more stringent regarding laws and hire a stable roster.All Tribunals should possess power of civil contempt or a similar power e.g Commercial Court Act and constitution of special courts in form of specialized judiciary. Overall it was an enlightening session and the audience was obliged to be addressed by Mr. Navdeep Singh where he answered all the queries put up by the students to their full satisfaction.
Submitted by- Tulika (Ist year)