12 February 2014

Supreme Court-NCLT

Supreme Court seeks Centre's response on plea against new Companies Act

·         The Supreme Court today sought the Centre's response on a petition seeking to declare as ultra vires of the Constitution some of the provisions of the new Companies Act that aims to create the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the Appellate Tribunal.

·         A bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik issued notice for January 27 to ministries of Law and Corporate Affairs on the petition filed Madras Bar Association which also sought to strike down provisions of the new Act "designed to provide post retirement employment to numerous civil servants with the ostensible purpose of creating a specialised tribunal dealing with corporate laws".

·         The petition said the provisions of the new Act are "unconstitutional" and violative of the basic structure of the Constitution. "The present tribunal is also structured in such a way that no advocate or chartered accountant would be willing to be selected as a member," the association's plea said.

·         It said the draft rules contain "humiliating conditions" for the chairperson and members of the tribunal and make them "subservient to the minister".

·         "There is an urgent need to strike down Chapter XXVII of the Companies Act, 2013 as it is a shocking attempt to destroy the independence of the judiciary and continue with the pernicious practice of creating tribunals in the place of the high courts and convert them into departments of the respective ministries.

·         "Indeed, there is a strong case for reconsideration of the haste with which such tribunals are created," it said. The petition also mentioned that the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasised the need to insulate the tribunals from "executive and political interference and influence" but these directions have been ignored and the tribunalisation of the judicial system continues unabated and unchecked.

·         The plea said it was necessary that this petition and the National Tax Tribunal batch of cases, which is pending disposal, be heard by a five-judge or seven-judge bench and clear rules are laid down relating to the creation, composition and functioning of tribunals.

·         "There is a grave danger that the judiciary will be substituted by a host of quasi-judicial tribunals which function as departments of various ministries," it said.
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