The Central Administrative Tribunal [hereinafter CAT] was established to reduce the case load relating to service matters on high courts and Supreme Court. With the advent of Administrative Tribunal Act 1986 power was divided between the central and state administrative tribunal to deal with the caseload. CAT has some powers of the High Court like to issue order, writ ad directions under Art.226 and 227 regarding service matters.

Roles and Functions

Section 4[1] of the of Administrative Tribunal Act 1986 provides for the establishment of Central Administrative Tribunal [CAT].The tribunals donot follow the procedure enumerated in CPC and follow the principles of natural justice and evidence act, have to observe the facts in an impartial way.The Central Administrative Tribunal enjoys the status and power of High Court and is expected to have the same jurisdiction as that of the High Court. Even in a recent The Delhi High Court has held that the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which adjudicates service matters, can exercise powers of High Court in cases of contempt. The High Court also noted that the Supreme Court in its 2001 judgment said that the CAT can punish for its contempt.

 Orders of CAT are not open to challenge before the High Court. In disposing of cases, it follows the principles and norms of natural justice, they are distinguished from the ordinary courts with regard to their jurisdiction and procedures.. The aggrieved person may appear before it personally. It is a multi-member body whose members are drawn from judicial and administrative streams so as to give it the benefit of expertise legal as well as administrative fields.

The Role of CAT in Service Matters

The idea of setting up service tribunals also found favour with the Indian Supreme Court, which in Kamal Kanti Dutta v . Union of India, advocated for setting up of service tribunals to save the courts from avalanche of writ petitions and appeals in service matters. Also states have their own tribunals. Articles 323-A and 323-B facilitated the constitution of administrative tribunals for dealing with certain matters. The Enactment of Administrative Tribunals Act in 29 Odisha Review August – 2015 1985 opened a new chapter in administering justice to the aggrieved government servants in service matters. Section 14 of the Act confers jurisdiction, powers and authority on CAT and provides that from 1 November 1985, the tribunal shall exercise all the jurisdiction, powers and authority exercisable immediately before that day by all courts, except the Supreme Court, in relation to recruitment, matters concerning recruitment and all service matters of Central civil servants.

Service matters is defines under section 3 (q) of Administrative Tribunal Act, 1986 as anything, in relation to a person, means all matters relating to the conditions of his service in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State or of any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India, or, as the case may be, of any corporation 7 [or society] owned or controlled by the Government, as respects—

(i) remuneration (including allowances), pension and other retirement benefits;

(ii) tenure;

(iii) leave of any kind;

(iv) disciplinary matters; or

(v)many other matter whatsoever.

Recent Developments

Recently Bombay High Court held  a petition non-maintainable, seeking to quash the two preliminary inquiries initiated against him by the Maharashtra government. The bench held that the since the petition is related to service matters it should be directed to the apposite tribunal.

The Supreme Court recently held that the recruitment to government services must command confidence as persons who are selected are intended to fulfil public functions associated with the functioning of the government. It also said that the where the entire selection process is found to be flawed, its cancellation may undoubtedly cause hardship to a few who may not specifically be found to be involved in wrong-doing. The observations came while upholding a circular of Delhi government dated March 15, 2016 revoking the Tier-I and Tier-II examinations held for the post of Head Clerk conducted by Delhi Subordinate Service Selection Board (DSSSB).


 (1)’CAT can exercise same powers as HC’ (The Hindu July 9, 2019) as accessed on 6th october

(2) Gitanjali Bastia, Central Administrative Tribunal : An Introduction

(3) [1980] 4SCC 38

(4) Administrative Tribunal Act,1985, Ss 14

 (5) ‘Param Bir Singh’s plea against Maharashtra govt’s inquiries can be adjudicated by administrative tribunal: HC’
<> as accessed on 6th October 2021

(6)’Recruitment to government services must command public confidence: Supreme Court’<> as accessed on 6th October 2021

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