Vikash Sharma

In a major judgement, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the decision of the Orissa High Court regarding the Centre’s notification for the abolition of the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli dismissed the petition filed by the Odisha Administrative Tribunal Bar Association challenging the Orissa High Court's decision which upheld the abolition of the tribunal.

The bench said that Article 323A of the Constitution of India does not preclude the Union Government from abolishing a State Administrative Tribunal, because 'it is only an enabling power enabling the Union Government to establish an administrative tribunal at its discretion on a request from the State Government.' Through a gazette notification, the Centre on August 2, 2019, had abolished the Odisha State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions had issued a gazette notification for abolishing the SAT. The Union Government abolished the SAT under Section- 4 (2) of the Administrative Tribunal Act 1985 and Section-21 of the General Clauses Act.

Following this, the SAT Bar Association had challenged the Centre’s notification regarding scrapping the tribunal. However, the High Court had also refused to stay the abolishment order and directed both the Centre and Odisha government to make their stand clear on the issue.

The SAT Bar Association had claimed that over 50,000 cases are pending in the SAT for disposal and hence the notification should be scrapped.

Hearing the matter, the High Court had held the Centre’s notification as valid. Later, the SAT Bar Association later moved Supreme Court against the abolition notification. As per official sources, the Odisha SAT was set up on July 14, 1986. Later, the Odisha Cabinet in September 2015 had decided to abolish the tribunal. Following the recommendation of the High Court, the Centre abolished the tribunal.

(Reported by Gautam Panda)