New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that a bill to bring uniform service conditions for members of various tribunals and to prohibit them from undertaking arbitration assignments and private practice is pending in the Rajya Sabha.
It sought dismissal of a PIL, filed by NGO Common Cause, seeking a direction that former judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts be prohibited from taking up arbitration assignments while being members or presiding officers of tribunals and the appellate panels.
"The Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (Conditions of Service) Bill, 2014, which deals with the issues raised in the PIL, is pending in Parliament and is currently with the standing committee. Nothing survives in the PIL," Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, told a bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini.
"We cannot wait endlessly. It can be done by passing an executive order that former judges cannot take up arbitration assignments," Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, said.
He said that so far as the issue of giving opinions by former Supreme Court judges in support of a petition is concerned, it has been settled by the apex court.
"Now the Supreme Court Registry has been asked to object to the petitions having such opinions," he said.
The bill, introduced in January by the UPA-II in January, seeks to provide for uniform service conditions with regard to retirement age, tenure of appointment, accommodation for members and Chairmen of tribunals, appellate tribunals and authorities performing quasi-judicial functions.
"A member will not be permitted to act as an arbitrator in any matter. Further, a member will not appear or plead before any tribunal of which he has been a chairman or member. If a member is already engaged in an arbitration matter at the time of his appointment to the tribunal, central government may permit him to complete his work," one of the provisions of the bill reads.