Employees may not be able to challenge CAT judgment in SC

Employees may not be able to challenge CAT judgment in SC

Bad news is in store for government employees contesting matters relating to their service conditions in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) as they may not be able to challenge the judgment in the Supreme Court.
Government employees not satisfied with CAT orders on their service matters will continue to appeal in High Courts as government’s plan to enable them approach the apex court directly has received a thumbs down from the top law officer.
Recently, the Department of Personnel had asked the Law Ministry whether the present system of CAT orders being challenged in High Courts be changed to fast track disposal of cases of government employees relating to their service conditions and employment rules.
The Law Ministry referred the matter to Attorney General Ghoolam Vahanvati who opined against the move saying a 1997 Supreme Court judgment on the issue should continued to be followed.
"As of now, the buck stops here (on the issue)," Law Minister M Veerappa Moily told PTI when asked to comment on Vahanvati’s opinion.
He said his ministry was trying to find a solution. "But I would not like to add anything more to it," he added.
When the CAT was established in 1985 by an Act of Parliament, its rules clearly stated that its judgments on service related matters of state and central government employees can only be challenged in the apex court.
While the same rules is in operation even today, a 1997 Supreme Court ruling held that judicial review is the basic feature of the Constitution and a High Court’s power on judicial review cannot be taken away.
After the judgment, appeals against CAT rulings were entertained in High Courts.
"The Armed Forces Tribunal Act has been borrowed from CAT. Appeals against Tribunal’s orders can only be challenged in the Supreme Court. But in CAT’s case, it has become a three tier system…the entire purpose of CAT has been defeated," said a CAT functionary.
He said while CAT usually disposes off a case in six months, appeal in High Court often takes years.
"They pay Rs 50 as fee to move CAT, but they have to pay thousands of rupees in High Court…if the matter reaches Supreme Court, the time and cost involved is massive," he said.

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