Lawyers challenge provision for direct appeal in apex court

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Published:May 15, 2014 12:58 am

Does the provision of appeal to the Supreme Court directly from independent tribunals “violate the constitutional power of judicial review” of the High Courts? The issue was raised earlier this week when a group of lawyers filed a PIL before the Delhi High Court on the issue.

The plea states that the provision that appeals against orders of independent tribunals — National Green Tribunal, Competition Tribunal, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Securities and Exchange Board of India — would be heard only by the Supreme Court is “unconstitutional” since they violated the judicial review powers of High Courts.

Ten Acts, including the MRTP Act, Armed Forces Tribunal Act, Advocates Act, and Telecom Regulatory Authority Act, which provide for quasi judicial tribunals, have been challenged in the PIL by a petition filed by three advocates practicing in the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court.

“Statutory enactments which watered down the power of judicial review of the High Court by providing statutory appeal directly to the Supreme Court are violating the basic structure of the Constitution,” the plea stated.

The specific provisions of the Acts, which allow for direct appeal, have been challenged by the PIL. The plea stated that “Article 245 of the Constitution cannot be constructed so to empower the Parliament to provide for appeal directly to the SC, thereby bypassing the powers of judicial review conferred upon the High Court under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution”.

The plea also argues that the Supreme Court is “overburdened” because of the number of cases brought before it, and that High Courts had, under the Constitution, been granted the jurisdiction to hear appeals against the orders of the quasi judicial tribunals.

The case was taken up by the court of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw this week, but the court has deferred the hearing on the case till August 27.

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