Resentment brewing over cabinet decision to abolish SAT

Cuttack: Lawyers affiliated to State Administrative Tribunal here today boycotted courts in protest against the Odisha government?s proposal to close the Tribunal.

Many state government employees too opposed the proposal, saying the tribunal was an efficient forum for early redressal of their grievances pertaining to service matters within a timeframe.

The state cabinet on Wednesday approved a decision to abolish the SAT on the ground that the Tribunal set up in 1986 has not been able to achieve its desired goal. With its principal bench at Bhubaneswar, the tribunal was functioning from its permanent and regular bench here at Cuttack and circuit benches at Sambalpur and Berhampur.

Ever since its inception about three decades ago, nearly three lakh original applications, transferred applications and miscellaneous cases have been filed in different benches of the Tribunal and over 2.5 lakh cases have been disposed of.

While announcing the Cabinet decision on Wednesday, the Chief Secretary G C Pati informed that more than 54,000 cases were pending disposal in SAT by the end of last year.

It was argued by the State government that following a Supreme Court decision of 1997, the SAT had lost its significance.

The Apex Court had refused to entertain any petition challenging the decision of the SAT, if the petitioner had not appealed against the Tribunal?s decision at their respective High Courts. Since the HCs had become the first appellant authorities, the Tribunals had become redundant, the government argued stating that many State governments have already abolished their tribunals since long.