In News: The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2021, was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Finance Minister, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, on February 13, 2021.
- It seeks to dissolve certain existing appellate bodies and transfer their functions (such as adjudication of appeals) to other existing judicial bodies.
- The Finance Act, 2017 empowered the central government to notify rules on qualifications of members, terms and conditions of their service, and composition of search-cum-selection committees for 19 tribunals (such as Customs, Excise, and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal).
- The Bill amends the 2017 Act to include provisions related to the composition of search-cum-selection committees, and term of office of members in the Act itself.
- Search-cum-selection committees: The Chairperson and Members of the Tribunals will be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a Search-cum-Selection Committee.
- The Committee will consist of
- The Chief Justice of India, or a Supreme Court Judge nominated by him, as the Chairperson (with casting vote),
- Two Secretaries nominated by the central government,
- The sitting or outgoing Chairperson, or a retired Supreme Court Judge, or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court,
- The Secretary of the Ministry under which the Tribunal is constituted (with no voting right).
- Term of office: Term of office for the Chairperson of the tribunals will be of four years or till the attainment of the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.For other members of the tribunals, the term will be of four years or till the age of sixty-seven years, whichever is earlier.
- Bill includes the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission established under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 within the purview of the Finance Act, 2017.
- The Bill removes
- The Airport Appellate Tribunal established under The Airports Authority of India Act, 1994,
- The Appellate Board established under the Trade Marks Act, 1999,
- The Authority of Advanced Ruling established under the Income Tax Act, 1961, and
- The Film Certification Appellate Authority established under the Cinematograph Act, 1952, from the purview of the Finance Act, 2017.
Transfer of functions of key appellate bodies as proposed under the Bill
|Acts||Appellate body||Proposed entity|
|The Cinematograph Act, 1952||Appellate Tribunal||High Court|
|The Trade Marks Act, 1999||Appellate Board||High Court|
|The Copyright Act, 1957||Appellate Board||Commercial Court or the Commercial Division of a High Court*|
|The Customs Act, 1962||Authority for Advance Rulings||High Court|
|The Patents Act, 1970||Appellate Board||High Court|
|The Airports Authority of India Act, 1994||Airport Appellate Tribunal||Central government, for disputes arising from the disposal of properties left on airport premises by unauthorised occupants.|
High Court, for appeals against orders of an eviction officer.
|The Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act, 2002||Airport Appellate Tribunal||Civil Court#|
|The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999||Appellate Board||High Court|