Apex court okays company law tribunal


New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday upheld the constitution of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) subject to some riders.

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The apex court said that the status of the members of the tribunal should be closer to that of the high court judges.

The constitution bench of the apex court comprising of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice R.V. Raveendran, Justice D.K. Jain, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice J.M. Panchal said the technical members of the tribunal should never exceed the judicial members.

The court added that the administrative support for these tribunals would come from the Ministry of Law and Justice and not from those sponsoring them.

The judgment written by Justice R.V. Raveendran said that the states could enact the laws transferring jurisdictions from the high courts to the tribunals but such tribunals should have the rank and status of high courts.

The judgment said that tribunalisation would affect the independence of the judiciary and it could at a later stage invite judicial review. The verdict said that only judges and advocates could be considered for appointment as judges of the tribunal.

The judgment said that when it was talking of rank and status it was not merely in terms of salaries but over all status of the tribunals and its members should be close to that of the high court judge.

The qualification of district judge who will be considered as a tribunal member should be five years and in respect of practicing lawyer it should be 10 years.

The term of the tribunal member will be from five to seven years instead to existing three years provided under the law. The judgment said that emphasis should be on attracting younger members of judicial fraternity to the tribunals.

The selection committee will have five members headed by the Chief Justice of India who would have a casting vote in the event of a tie. The constitution bench judgment came in the wake to challenge to Madras High Court judgment which had already upheld the setting up of the NCLT.