August 1, 2021

Tribunals and Types of Tribunals in India

Tribunals in India: Meaning

Tribunal in India is an administrative body formed to carry out quasi-judicial duties. An Administrative Tribunal is neither an executive body nor a Judge. It stands between a Trial and an administrative body somewhere at midway.

The term ‘Tribunal’ derives from the word ‘Tribunes,’ which means ‘Magistrates of the Classical Roman Republic.’ Tribunal is referred to as the ‘Tribunes’ office, i.e., a Roman official under the monarchy and the republic with the purpose of protecting the plebeian citizen from the patrician magistrates ‘arbitrary action. In general, a Tribunal is a individual or entity with the authority, whether or not it is referred to as the tribunal of title, to adjudicate, to determine claims or disputes.[1]

The conditions of the situation proclaiming the protection of new rights in the midst of increasing State actions and meeting the demands of justice have culminated in the creation of tribunals.[2]

The delay in disposing of civil-related litigation is substantially rising in arrears and in this matter the courts appear powerless. “The essentials of the new collectivist state are multipurpose with the intention of establishing a democratic society” With the abandonment of the doctrine of laissez faire[3], the State has ceased to be impartial and has become vigorous to affect every human being in every sphere

Important Types of Tribunals in India

Domestic Tribunals means the domestic tribunal created by or under a statute. E.g.: Bar Council of India and State Bar councils created under the Advocates Act, 1961, Due to the pendency of cases in various courts, domestic tribunals and other tribunals, various laws have been created to resolve the situation that arose. In the legal context, a ‘tribunal’ is different from a regional tribunal. The ‘domestic tribunal’ refers to administrative structures designed to control professional conduct and impose discipleship among members through the exercise of investigative and adjudicative powers. Whereas, tribunals are the quasi-judicial bodies set up to adjudicate disputes relating to specified matters exercising jurisdiction under the law that creates them.

Statutory Tribunal :On the basis of the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee, Section XIV-A was added to the Constitution Act (Forty-second Amendment) of 1976, entitled ‘Tribunals’ providing for the establishment of ‘Administrative Tribunals’ pursuant to Article 323-A and ‘Tribunals for other matters’ pursuant to Article 323-B.

With the enactment of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, a significant number of cases were brought under the jurisdiction of the Tribunals relating to service matters pending before different courts. Administrative tribunals created pursuant to Article 323A have been set aside from the legal rules of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and the procedural fetters of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but at the same time have been vested with the powers of the Civil Court in respect of certain matters, including the review of their own decisions, and are bound by natural justice principles.[4]

In the 215th Report (2008) the Law Commission headlined “L. Chandra Kumar will be revisited by the Larger Bench of the Supreme Court of India “pointing out that the Administrative Tribunals have been created and established as an appropriate and legitimate replacement for the High Courts in matters of government. The High Courts ‘right of judicial review can not be deemed as inviolable as that of the Supreme Court. The very goal behind the creation of the Administrative Tribunals would be thwarted if all the cases they adjudicate have to go before the High Court concerned. However, the Commission did not record any explanation / reason as to how the High Court’s powers of judicial review could be less inviolable than the Supreme Court, particularly after the judgment of the seven-Judge Bench in L. Chandra Kumar v. India[5]

Difference between Tribunals and Court

The distinction between a Court and a Tribunal is the manner in which a dispute is resolved. Supreme Court, however, at Virindar Kumar Satyawadi v. Punjab State[6]

“What distinguishes a Court from a quasi-judicial tribunal is that it is charged with a responsibility to settle disputes in a fair manner and to pronounce in a final judgment the rights of the parties. Deciding in a judicial manner ensures that the parties have the right, as a matter of right, to be heard in support of their argument and to adduce proof in defense of it. And it also imports the authority’s duty to determine the matter on a review of the adduced facts and in compliance with law.”

The Supreme Court addressed in detail in ‘Union of India V. R. Gandhi’-( 2010) 96 CLA 222 (SC) the position of courts, the establishment and operation of tribunals and the distinction between courts and tribunals.

The word ‘courts’ applies to areas where justice is conducted or applies to judicial working judges. The State shall create courts for the administration of justice which shall be for the exercise of the State’s judicial power to protect and protect the freedoms, punish wrongs and adjudicate disputes. Courts apply to the Civil, Criminal, and High System system. At the other hand, tribunals are special alternate statutory bodies, generally established by or under a statute to settle disputes arising from that specific statute, or to resolve disputes arising from any administrative law.

Tribunals can be either private tribunals such as arbitral tribunals or legally appointed tribunals, or legally approved tribunals, or legislative tribunals set up by a statute. Most tribunals are staffed by Judicial Officers only. Types of these tribunals include Rent Tribunals, Car Accident Claims Tribunal, Employment Courts, Industrial Tribunals, etc. Other formal tribunals have legal and professional representatives. For eg, Central Administrative Tribunals, Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal Appellate Tribunals, Consumer Fora, Cyber Appellate Tribunal, etc.

For more articles on Administrative Law, Click Here.

For law notes, Click Here.


[1] Walker, David M., Oxford Companion to Law, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-866110-X, 1980 at p.1239

[2] Kagzi, M.C.J, The Indian Administrative Law, Metropolitan Book Co. Pvt. Ltd., Delhi, 3 rd edn., 1973 at pp. 276 and 279

[3] an economic theory or plan in which a government does not have many laws or rules to control the buying and selling of goods and services

[4] Basu, Durga Das, Commentary on the Constitution of India, Lexis Nexis, New Delhi, 8 th edn., 2011 at p. 10650; See also, State of West Bengal v. Kamal Sengupta, (2008) 8 SCC 612

[5] AIR 1997 SC 1125.

[6] AIR 1956 SC 153.

Author Details: Rajat Gautam

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