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Supreme Court Judgment Analysis – Orissa Administrative Tribunal Bar Association v. Union of India

Analyzing the Supreme Court judgment in Orissa Administrative Tribunal Bar Association v. Union of India:

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Supreme Court Judgment Analysis – Orissa Administrative Tribunal Bar Association v. Union of India

Case Name: Orissa Administrative Tribunal Bar Association v. Union of India

Justices: Dr. Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud (CJI), Hima Kohli (J)

Date of Verdict: 21 March 2023

Submission: The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Central Government’s notification dated 2nd August 2019 abolishing the Odisha Administrative Tribunal.

Issues:

  • 1. Maintainability of writ petitions before Orissa High Court.
  • 2. Whether Article 323A makes establishing Administrative Tribunals mandatory.
  • 3. Validity of invoking Section 21 of General Clauses Act to abolish OAT.
  • 4. Whether abolition of OAT violates Article 14.
  • 5. Whether abolition violates right to access justice.
  • 6. Violation of principles of natural justice.
  • 7. Validity of notification not issued in President’s name.
  • 8. Enlargement of Orissa High Court’s jurisdiction.
  • 9. Violation of Article 256 by State Government.
  • 10. Need for judicial impact assessment before abolition.
  • 11. Whether Central Government became functus officio.

Case Background:

  • – OAT was set up in 1986 under the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985.
  • – In 1997, the SC in L. Chandra Kumar case held exclusion of High Courts’ jurisdiction by Administrative Tribunals Act unconstitutional.
  • – Consequently, Odisha proposed abolishing OAT since speedy redressal was no longer possible.
  • – Central Government invoked Section 21 of General Clauses Act to rescind 1986 notification and abolish OAT via notification dated 2nd August 2019.
  • – Orissa High Court upheld validity of abolition in 2021.
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Analysis:

  • – Writ petitions were maintainable since appellants alleged violation of rights.
  • – Article 323A is enabling, not mandatory. Does not prohibit abolishing tribunals once set up.
  • – Invoking Section 21 of General Clauses Act was valid since decision to set up OAT was administrative.
  • – Abolition not violative of Article 14 – based on relevant considerations, not absurd.
  • – Principles of natural justice not applicable to policy decisions affecting public.
  • – Non-compliance with Article 77 does not invalidate notification.
  • – Revival of High Court’s jurisdiction over pending cases, not enlargement.
  • – No evidence that State Government took advantage of its own wrong.
  • – Failure to conduct judicial impact assessment does not invalidate decision to abolish OAT.

Key Takeaways:

  • – Article 323A is enabling, establishing tribunals is not mandatory.
  • – Administrative decisions can be reversed under Section 21 of General Clauses Act.
  • – Executive policy decisions usually not subject to principles of natural justice.
  • – Non-compliance with Article 77 does not render executive action invalid.
  • – Judicial impact assessment not required before abolishing tribunals.

The judgment emphasizes constitutional validity of executive decisions based on relevant considerations and made in accordance with law. It highlights limited application of principles of natural justice to policy matters.

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