The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that it may look into the possibility of amending the Finance Act to include a nominee of the Chief Justice of India in the selection and disciplinary committees for administrative members in various tribunals.
It also told the top court that it was willing to look into the suggestion of Chief Justice Dipak Misra to fix the tenure of judicial members of a tribunal for five years.
A bench of Chief Justice and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud suggested that Attorney General K K Venugopal should consider the possibility of extending the tenure of judicial members of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and National Consumer Commission for the next three months, as a temporary measure.
Venugopal said he will seek instruction on the suggestion after which the bench listed the matter for December 11.
A batch of pleas, including from the National Green Tribunal Bar Association and Employees Provident Fund Tribunal Bar Association, have challenged the newly-amended Finance Act which has changed the search, selection and removal process of members and presiding officers of tribunals, including CAT.
The court had on September 4 refused to grant an interim stay on the Act.
The pleas have challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the 'Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (qualifications, experience and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017'.
The pleas said the rules framed under the Finance Act provide that the search-cum-selection committee to select its administrative members will be headed by a nominee of the central government.
Earlier, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) or his nominee had a role in the selection of administrative members of CAT, the pleas said.
The batch of pleas have also sought an interim stay on the provisions of the new Act and the Rules, under which a new Search-cum-Selection Committee for the post of Administrative Member would be set up.
However, on the issue of selection of CAT's chairperson and judicial members, the 2017 Rules provide that this committee would be headed by the CJI or his nominee.
The Finance Act, which came into effect from April 1, led to the framing of the 2017 Rules which allegedly gave "unbridled" powers to the Executive to decide on the qualification of the members, their appointment and removal among other issues, one of the petitions filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said.
The apex court had earlier issued notice to the Centre on two other similar pleas filed by Ramesh and an NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE).
The NGO had sought the quashing of Part 14 of the Finance Act and Rules framed under it. It alleged that the alterations brought about by the Finance Act would weaken the functioning of tribunals including the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and curtail.