New Delhi: The annual All India Conference of the Central Administrative Tribunal was held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on 16th February 2020. The one day conference was attended by Judicial and Administrative Members from all 17 Benches of CAT from across the country, members of the CAT BAR Association, and eminent Jurists, who deliberated on key issue related to the functioning of the Tribunal and priorities for 2020.
The Conference was presided over by Hon’ble Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Law and Justice. In his address, the Hon’ble Minister congratulated Justice L Narismha Reddy, Chairman CAT, and his team for bringing about a significant improvement in disposal of cases despite shortage of Members in the Tribunal. He welcomed the role which the CAT has played in the evolution of service jurisprudence in the country, in the light of its various milestone judgments. He emphasised the need for an in-house judicial impact assessment by CAT. He also advised that judicial learning is also very important since the law is in the realm of ambiguity. He emphasised the importance of training in service jurisprudence. He also highlighted the importance of laying down judgments on service jurisprudence with greater clarity, in view of the government’s commitment towards greater transparency in governance. He assured the help of the IT Department and use of artificial intelligence in the functioning of the Tribunal.
Chief Guest Hon’ble Mr. Justice N.V. Ramana, Judge, Hon’ble Supreme Court of India emphasised that despite the fact that there have been signifiant vacancies in CAT, under the leadership of Justice Reddy, outstanding disposal of cases has been achieved. His Lordship also talked about service conditions of Members of the Tribunal and also emphasized that the tenure should be of adequate length. His Lordship also highlighted that judgment should be precise and concise, bringing about clarity and reasoning. He also indicated that service matter litigation has significantly increased of late with the result that there are currently about 50,000 cases in CAT.
Guest of Honour Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Prime Minister’s Office emphasised Honourable Prime Minister’s commitment towards ‘maximum governance, minimum government’, and the principle of “perform, reform, and transform.” In this direction, significant efforts have been made to bring about improvements in various aspects of service conditions. He reiterated that CAT has been an essential organ of the government towards the achievement of a complaints-free delivery system in the last few years, and that significant changes have been made in the Prevention of Corruption Act and other service matters.
He said that currently there is a shortage of Members, and that the process appointing more Members is underway to ease the working of the Tribunal. He has also apprised the fact that despite the acute shortage of Members, the Tribunal has achieved a target of more than 104%. He also mentioned the necessity of the Benches at Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. In this regard, he had a discussion with Justice Reddy and it has been resolved that for the time being, Jurisdictional Benches will entertain service cases for Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
Special Guest, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dhirubhai Naranbhai Patel, Chief Justice, High Court of Delhi emphasised the importance of giving a patient hearing to litigants and counsels. He also said that judgments should be concise and precise. He said judicial orders should take into account facts, concerned laws, and decisions given earlier. He congratulated Chairman CAT, Justice Reddy under whose leadership, during 2019, 104% disposal of cases has been achieved.
Giving an overview of the progress made by various CAT benches over the year in his address, Hon’ble Mr. Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal said that the role of civil servants in the building of a country is phenomenal. Giving an overview of the history of the Tribunal, he said that over the past 3 and half decades, successive Chairmen have shaped the Tribunal well and today, we can proudly say that it is serving the needs of the society, i.e., civil servants, to a large extent through its 17 Benches serving the needs of the employees within their respective jurisdictions. He also highlighted the problem of shortage of Members, as the Tribunal is functioning with 39 as against a full capacity of 66. He congratulated Members for their hard work and the cooperation of the legal fraternity, advocate friends, and the Registry. He said that the law is complex and we must be equipped with the proper knowledge, attitude and approach, to live up to the expectations of our litigant public. In this behalf, he listed the three attributes with which the Tribunal identifies itself; (i) hard work (ii) honesty and (iii) humility.
The vote of Thanks was proposed by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Bharat Bhushan, Member (Judicial), CAT, Allahabad Bench.
The Judicial and Administrative Members of CAT deliberated in two technical sessions on issues related to the work of CAT, including structural and institutional issues, the functioning of administrative tribunals in other legal systems, and methodology for the functioning of the tribunal.
The technical sessions also deliberated on the identification of measures to improve the quality of adjudication and rate of disposal, service condition of Members and infrastructural aspect of the Tribunal’s Benches. The technical sessions were presided over by Hon’ble Mr. Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal.
Various suggestions made by the Members in the technical sessions will be taken forward in the coming days by CAT in coordination with the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT).