- Central Administrative Tribunal has been established for adjudication of disputes with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or other local authorities within the territory of India or under the control of Government of India and for matters connected therewith.
- CAT was set up in pursuance of the amendment of Constitution of India by Articles 323A (1976) which empowers the Parliament to set up Tribunals for dealing with disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to service and posts connected with the Union of India.
- Accordingly the Administrative Tribunals Act was passed by the Parliament in 1985.
- Administrative Tribunals were establishedunder the Act in 1985 at Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Allahabad. Today, there are 17 Benches of the Tribunal located throughout the country wherever the seat of a High Court is located, with 33 Division Benches. List of benches are available here.
- In addition to Central Government employees, the Government of India has notified 45 other organizations to bring them within the jurisdiction of the Central Administrative Tribunal.
- The provisions of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 do not, however, apply to members of paramilitary forces, armed forces of the Union, officers or employees of the Supreme Court, or to persons appointed to the Secretariat Staff of either House of Parliament or the Secretariat staff of State/Union Territory Legislatures.
- A Chairman who has been a sitting or retired Judge of a High Court heads the Central Administrative Tribunal. Besides the Chairman, the authorized strength consists of 16 Vice-Chairmen and 49 Members.
Functioning and Disposal of cases
- The tribunals were set up to dispose of the cases expeditiously paving the way for speedy justice for the aggrieved Government employees.
- The total number of cases received on transfer as well as those instituted directly at various Benches of the Tribunal till 30.06.2006 is 4,76,336, of which the Tribunal has disposed of 4,51,751 cases leaving a balance of 24585 cases which constitutes disposal of 94%. Thus CAT justify the aim of the Legislature in setting up the Administrative Tribunals to provide a speedy, relatively inexpensive and efficacious remedy to the employees who feel aggrieved.
- For the year 2001 and right up to June, 2006 the overall disposal of cases has exceeded the number of freshly instituted cases, as a result of which the total pendency has reduced.
- Where the pendency of cases is on higher side in any Bench, Members are being deputed from other Benches to that Bench for wiping out the pendency.
- Justice V.S. Malimath observed that the cases were seen by courts “with a legalistic angle alone, without having proper understanding of the Administrative angle”. This has been removed by the inclusion of an administrative member in each Bench. Administration has to make use of this while filing reply statement by bring out clearly the administrative orders to stress the facts as to why the prayer of the applicant cannot be allowed.
- A person aggrieved by any administrative order pertaining to any matter can make an application to CAT for redressal of his grievances. The jurisdiction of the Tribunal extends not only to the actual employment but also to the process of recruitment also.
- An application is not to be admitted unless the applicant has exhausted all remedies available to him under the service rules. However this rule is not absolute and CAT may entertain an application in extraordinary circumstances.
- A person is deemed to have availed of all the remedies available to him if a final order has been made by the Government or other authority or the officer concerned rejecting the appeal or representation of the employee. OR Where no final orders passed by such authority even after 6 months from the date of the appeal or representation.
Procedure of justice
- The Tribunal is not bound to follow the procedures laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 or Evidence Act, but shall be guided by the principles of natural justice in deciding cases and the procedure.
- The Central Administrative Tribunal is empowered to prescribe its own rules of practice for discharging its functions subject to the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 and Rules made there under. For this purpose, the Central Administrative Tribunal Rules of Practice, 1993 have been made.
- Parties to the dispute may appear in person or be represented by a lawyer before the Tribunal. The Supreme Court has held in a case that the CAT must confine itself to the limits of judicial review.
- No interim orders, whether by way of injunction or stay shall be made on an application unless copy of the application along with other documents are furnished to the party against whom such application is made and opportunity is given to such party to be heard in the matter.
- However ex-parte interim orders can be issued in exceptional cases valid for 14 days. In this case the administration should approach CAT within 14 days to put across their point of view and try for vacation of such interim stay orders.