New Delhi: The Supreme Court today extended the tenure of the president and other members of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), till their successors are appointed to ensure smooth judicial functioning of the apex consumer disputes body. The apex court had on December 11 last year extended till March 15 the tenure of the NCDRC members and later modified the order and extended it to May 31.
The Centre had consented to the extensions on the ground that judicial work should not get affected. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud passed the order today after senior lawyer Siddharth Luthra submitted that either appointments be made in the NCDCR or the tenure of existing members and the president be extended till their successors were appointed.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, agreed with Luthra’s submission and told the court that the process to fill in the vacancies in the commission was underway.The appointments in various tribunals were stalled due to the pendency of the petitions in the apex court challenging the Finance Act and the Tribunal, Appellate and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other conditions of Service of Members) Rules, which deal with appointments, tenure and other service conditions of office-bearers of such panels.
A batch of pleas, including from the National Green Tribunal Bar Association, Employees Provident Fund Tribunal Bar Association and Kudrat Sandhu, have alleged that the newly-amended Finance Act has changed the search, selection and removal process of members and presiding officers of tribunals. The pleas have challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the ‘Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (qualifications, experience and other conditions of service of members) Rules, 2017’.
The pleas have also sought an interim stay on the provisions of the new Act and the Rules, under which a new Search-cum-Selection Committee for the post of Administrative Member would be set up. The Finance Act, which came into effect from April 1, led to the framing of the 2017 Rules which gave “unbridled” powers to the Executive to decide on the qualification of the members, their appointment and removal among other issues, one of the petitions alleged.