Abolition of SAT: Orissa HC refuses stay on Centre’s notification

Bhubaneswar: The Orissa High Court today directed both the Centre and the State to present their stand on abolition of the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) while refusing to put a stay on the notification which has already been issued by the central government.

Hearing a writ petition filed by the SAT Bar Association challenging the Centre’s August 5 notification scrapping the tribunal, the High Court today refused to stay the abolishment order and directed both the Centre and Odisha government to make their stand clear on the issue.

The High Court has scheduled September 5 as the next date of hearing in the matter. The court said that the abolition of SAT will now allow litigants to file their cases in the High Court, however, it has also maintained that the government does not have any rights to transfer the old pending cases to the High Court.

It may be noted that despite having a sanctioned strength of six members including a chairman, the tribunal had been functioning with only an acting chairman. The absence of members in the tribunal has led to pendency of over 70,000 cases.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions on Monday issued a gazette notification for abolishing the SAT. The State government had earlier moved the Centre seeking its nod for scrapping the tribunal after getting permission from the Orissa High Court. The State cabinet had also approved winding up of the SAT in September 2015.

However, a day after the notification was issued by the Centre, the SAT Bar Association challenged the move citing that the decision as ‘illegal’ and ‘ultra-vires.’