Reached Daily Limit?

Explore a new way of legal research!

Click Here
Indian Case Summary

L. Chandra Kumar vs Union Of India And Others on 18 March, 1997 – Case Summary

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In the case of L. Chandra Kumar vs Union Of India And Others on 18 March, 1997, the Supreme Court of India was tasked with addressing several significant questions of law pertaining to the power and jurisdiction of administrative tribunals established under Articles 323A and 323B of the Constitution of India.

Facts of the Case

The case arose from a batch of special leave petitions, civil appeals, and writ petitions challenging decisions of different High Courts and several provisions in different enactments. The matters raised several distinct questions of law, but they were grouped together as they all involved the consideration of the following broad issues:

  1. Whether the power conferred upon Parliament or the State Legislatures by Sub-clause (d) of Clause (2) of Article 323A or by Sub-clause (d) of Clause (3) of Article 323B of the Constitution, which excludes the jurisdiction of ‘all courts’, except that of the Supreme Court under Article 136, in respect of certain disputes and complaints, runs counter to the power of judicial review conferred on the High Courts under Articles 226/227 and on the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution?
  2. Whether the Tribunals, constituted either under Article 323A or under Article 323B of the Constitution, possess the competence to test the constitutional validity of a statutory provision/rule?
  3. Whether these Tribunals, as they are functioning at present, can be said to be effective substitutes for the High Courts in discharging the power of judicial review? If not, what are the changes required to make them conform to their founding objectives?

Court’s Observations and Judgment

The Supreme Court, in its judgment, decided to confine itself to the larger issues raised in the batch of matters without adverting to the specific facts of each of the matters. The Court noted that the present controversy had been referred to it by an order of a Division Bench of the Court, which concluded that the decision rendered by a five-Judge Constitution Bench of the Court in S.P. Sampath Kumar v. Union of India needed to be comprehensively reconsidered.

The Court examined the legal and historical background relevant to the case, including the insertion of Part XIVA into the Constitution through the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, which comprises two provisions, Articles 323A and 323B. These provisions allow for the establishment of administrative tribunals and tribunals for other matters, respectively.

The Court also examined the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, enacted by Parliament in pursuance of the power conferred upon it by Clause (1) of Article 323A of the Constitution. The Act was intended to provide a self-contained, almost wholly exclusive forum for adjudication of all service-related matters, with the Tribunals created under the Act intended to perform a substitution role as opposed to a supplemental role with regard to the High Courts.

In its final decision, the Supreme Court held that the Tribunals, as they were functioning at the time, could not be said to be effective substitutes for the High Courts in discharging the power of judicial review. The Court suggested several changes required to make the Tribunals conform to their founding objectives, which were later given the force of law by an amending Act.

In conclusion, the Court upheld the power of judicial review of the High Courts and the Supreme Court and affirmed the need for the Tribunals to be effective substitutes for the High Courts in order to conform to their founding objectives. The judgment in L. Chandra Kumar vs Union Of India And Others is considered a landmark decision in the field of administrative law in India.