Updated: September 16, 2021 2:45:29 pm
The Centre on Thursday agreed to permit outgoing acting chairperson of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) Justice Iqbal Singh Cheema to continue in office till September 20 to enable him to pronounce some pending judgements.
Attorney General K K Venugopal conveyed this to a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana. The bench accepted this and noted that the government will pass consequential orders.
The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, was hearing a plea by Justice Cheema challenging the government move curtailing his tenure which was to end on September 20 by ten days.
As soon as the petition came up, the AG informed the court that the government was ready to allow him to continue till the date of retirement September 20 ‘on paper’ and that he will be entitled to all retirement benefits. However, since a new acting chairperson — Justice M Venugopal — had been appointed, allowing the former to also visit the office would look awkward, he added.
But the CJI said “you (government) are responsible for the situation” and asked, “is it fair to him (Justice Cheema)?”
The AG replied that the fresh appointment was made based on the opinion rendered by him as per the new Tribunals Reform Act, 2021.
The CJI responded that the court will, in that case, think of staying the Act to which the AG replied that he was ready to argue on the point of stay.
Intervening, Justice Surya Kant asked if the new appointment being ad-hoc, would it be possible for the new appointee to go on leave for a few days so that Justice Cheema can continue in office.
The AG said he would have to take instructions. Returning to the bench later, he informed that the government had agreed to allow Justice Cheema to continue till September 20 so that he could pronounce the pending judgements and that the new appointee would go on leave till then.
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