THE Delhi High Court today issued notice to the Central Government in a PIL filed by advocate Fozia Rahman challenging the appointment of Justice Bansi Lal Bhat (Retd.) as officiating Chairman of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal.
A division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan has asked Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Law and Justice to file their respective replies to the plea.
Senior advocate Rajeev K. Virmani appeared for the petitioner.
The petitioner has challenged the appointment for being contrary to and in violation of the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 and the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Condition of Service of Members) Rules, 2020.
“If the appointment of an Acting/Officiating Chairperson is made arbitrarily and without abiding the applicable laws, the same shall erode the public trust in the judicial system and also dilute the separation of powers and independence of the judiciary, which shall in turn have a negative impact on the public and their ability to access impartial judicial process and a robust judicial mechanism”, the petitioner says.
Petitioner asserts that the Rules nowhere entitles the Central Government to overlook ‘seniority’ in case of appointment of a member (in absence of vice chairman or vice president) to officiate as Chairperson, Chairperson, President or Presiding Officer. Thus, the senior-most member of NCLAT whether s/he be a technical member or a judicial member, ought to have been appointed to officiate as Chairperson.