AFT Is Effective As It Includes Both Judicial And Expert Members: Supreme Court

Armed Forces Tribunal

The Supreme Court on Wednesday noted that Armed Forces Tribunals (AFT) across the country are performing well in comparison to other tribunals because AFTs have the right mix of judicial and military or expert members.

A bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Abhay S. Oka expressed concern about the other tribunals, as many of them are unable to hear time-sensitive cases effectively.

“We need to think outside the box. Many statutes have time limits, but cases are not heard on time. If there are specialised tribunals, they are not staffed,” Justice Kaul stated.

Mukul Rohatgi, a senior advocate and former Attorney General, weighed in, saying that the practise of appointing judges unfamiliar with specialised matters to tribunals should be abandoned.

“This syndrome of the retired judge must stop. People who work in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) or the electricity tribunals have never had to deal with such issues. Then, the other individuals on the coram with them are powerless to speak “said Rohatgi.

Justice Kaul emphasized on the need for the proper balance of judicial and expert members in tribunals.

“That is why generally speaking, like in Armed Forces Tribunals, when there is balance of judicial and military members, it has worked successfully,” Justice Kaul responded.

The Court made the aforementioned remarks while hearing an election petition which had been declared infructuous.

Justice Kaul also emphasised the value of hybrid hearings during the hearing and cited examples of how they have benefited the bar and the bench.

“People can now appear from anywhere, thanks to advances in technology. I believe hybrid hearings should be held at all levels; it is a great facility ” he stated.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte