Take decision on permanent bench of CAT at Nagpur: High Court

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 06 Sep 2017 10:39:26


Staff Reporter,

CAT circuit bench sitting from September 18 to September 22

Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has directed the Department of Personnel and Training to take appropriate decision within four months about establishing a permanent bench of Central Administrative Tribunal at Nagpur.

The High Court on March 3 had directed to CAT to hold circuit bench sitting at Nagpur for five days every month until further orders. Since then, the CAT os holding circuit sitting here. This month, the Circuit bench of CAT will hold its sitting at Nagpur from September 18-22 CAT Bar Association has already filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding permanent bench of Central Administrative Tribunal at Nagpur and also made a representation to DoPT on December 21, 2013, which is still pending. A division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Arun Upadhye while disposing of the petition, directed the respondent authorities within a period of four months while continuing the arrangement of holding circuit bench sitting of CAT.

At present permanent bench is at Mumbai which has circuit sitting at Nagpur. Earlier, the Circuit Bench used to hold sitting at Nagpur once in two months. As the circuit sitting was not regular there was a huge pendency of cases. Central government servants working in Vidarbha have to go all the way to Mumbai to file a case.

The Administrative Tribunals were established in November, 1985 at Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Allahabad. Today, there are 17 Benches of the Tribunal located throughout the country wherever the seat of the High Court is located, with 33 Benches.

In addition, Circuit sittings are held at Nagpur, Goa, Aurangabad, Jammu, Shimla, Indore, Gwalior, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Pondicherry, Gangtok, Port Blair, Shillong, Agartala, Kohima, Imphal, Itanagar, Aizwal and Nainital. Nagpur has a cluster of Central Government offices, wherein thousands of employees are employed.

Some major Central Government offies situated at Nagpur are Income Tax Department, Central Excise and Customs, Accountant General II (A&E), Accountant General II (Audit), Geological Survey of India, Indian Bureau of Mines, Metrological Department, Railways, Office of Defence Project, Department of Posts, Director of Accounts (Posts), Civil Accounts, Archaeological Survey of India, Central Public Works Department, Survey of India, Central Government Health Scheme, Mines Safety Department and many other small central government offices.

Due to irregular sitting of CAT circuit bench, the pendency had gone from 337 in 2007 to 641 in 2013 which excludes the number of cases arising out of Nagpur but filed directly at Mumbai for urgent hearing. On an average 250-300 cases are filed at Nagpur every year.

According to petitioner association, the present arrangement of Circuit sitting affects the disposal of cases at Mumbai as well. As whenever, the circuit sitting is held in Nagpur, the Members alongwith the entire staff has to move to Nagpur. As such the work at Mumbai also suffers. Circuit Bench at Nagpur has all the infrastructure necessary for establishment of a permanent bench including Court Rooms, Judges Chambers storage space etc, the PIL stated.
The Department of Personnel and Training in its reply to representation made by CAT Bar Association had stated that division bench has to decide 5 cases per day and single judge has to decide 7 cases per day.

It was pointed out that the DoPT reply doesn’t take into consideration the matters at the stage of Admission, order matters and other Miscellaneous stages which consumes the entire time of the tribunal.
Adv Mohan Sudame and Adv Akshaya M Sudame appeared for the petitioner Association. Adv Ambarish Joshi appeared for Union of India.