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The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Centre on a plea of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) challenging the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the newly-amended Finance Act.
The CAT said the 'Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (qualifications, experience and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017', framed under the Act, provides 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 tribunal told a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud.
The bench found prima facie merit in the submission of senior advocate C A Sundaram, representing the CAT, and sought the response of the Centre in two weeks.
The panel also sought an interim stay on the provisions of the new Act and the Rules, under which new Search-cum- Selection Committee for the post of Administrative Member would be set up.
The senior advocate told the court that the new Act will take away the powers of the CJI.
"Because of the provisions of the new Act, the power of your Lordships have been taken away as the final authority in deciding the administrative members of the tribunals which used to rest with the CJI," he said.
However, on the issue of selection of CAT's chairperson and judicial members, the 2017 Rules provide that the search- cum-selection committee would be headed by the CJI or his nominee.
The Finance Act, which came into effect on 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 a notice to the Centre on two other similar pleas filed by Ramesh and an NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE).
The NGO, in its plea filed through lawyers Vivek Chib and Ruchira Goel, 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 their powers.
Senior advocate Mohan Parasaran, who had appeared for Ramesh, had submitted that the power of judiciary has been compromised by the provisions of the new law.
The petition has said the changes brought about by the Act would weaken functioning of tribunals including the NGT and curtail their powers.