The Supreme Court today agreed to hear a plea of Congress leader Jairam Ramesh challenging the constitutional validity of some provisions of the Finance Act, 2017 on the ground that these would destroy the independent functioning of the NGT and 18 other tribunals.
A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said that it would tag the plea with a similar pending petition filed by NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE).
Senior advocate Mohan Parasaran, appearing for Ramesh, submitted that the power of judiciary has been compromised by the provisions of the new law.
The Finance Act, which came into effect from April 1, led to framing of the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules, 2017 and these allegedly gave “unbridled” powers to the Executive to decide the qualification of the members, their appointment and removal among other issues.
The Congress leader sought declaration of various section of the Act as unconstitutional, null and void and the rules as “ultra vires” of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act, 2010 and the Constitution.
In the earlier plea, the NGO had sought quashing of Part 14 of the Finance Act and Rules framed under it.
The bench, which had asked the ministries of law and justice and finance to respond to the plea, however, had refused to stay the operation of the provisions of the Act and the rules.
The petition has said the changes brought about by the Act would weaken functioning of tribunals including the NGT and curtail their powers.
It has said the tribunal rules gave primacy to the Executive in the appointment and removal process of the chairperson or president and judicial members of the statutory tribunals and authorities and it amounted to attempting to usurp judicial appointment powers and influence the administration of justice.
( Source – PTI )