Sunday, February 06, 2011

Constitutionally Defective Tribunalisation of Justice

Aggrieved by what we saw as the establishment of a constitutionally defective IP tribunal (IPAB), we challenged it through a writ petition before the Madras High Court. On the very same day, a writ was filed by advocate Ananth Padmanabhan on behalf of SIMCA challenging the constitutionality of the copyright board.

As some of you may recall, the Supreme Court took indiscriminate tribunalisation to task when it upheld the challenge to the constitutional validity of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). Abhinav had blogged some of his preliminary thoughts on this case here.

We were fortunate enough to have the same team (senior counsel, Arvind Datar and upcoming IP litigator, Anand Padmanabhan) that won the NCLT case to argue this IPAB case pro-bono for us.

Prashant Reddy has a detailed explanation of the writ that we filed here. It also finds mention here and here.

Despite clear guidelines by the Supreme Court in NCLT to ensure that tribunals are manned by independent and competent adjudicators (not those under the control of the executive), the government continues to flout these norms. A case in point is the Electricity Appellate Tribunal, the constitutionality of which was challenged by Saptak Sanyal, an ex-student of NUJS who is now clerking at the Supreme Court. This case is being heard by the Supreme Court at the moment.

Similarly, I believe the constitutional validity of the Green tribunal (discussed by Namita) was recently challenged by a law student from the Ambedkar School of Excellence in Law, Chennai. What next? The Cyber Appellate Tribunal?
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