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Administrative Tribunal


Administrative Tribunal body set-up to exercise jurisdiction in respect of matters to, or arising out of the republic, or of any statutory public authority. The emergence of administrative tribunals is associated with the concept and practice of administrative adjudication of disputes between the executive organ of the state and those of the bureaucracy on the one hand, and citizens and non-government entities on the other. British development of administrative tribunals can be traced back to the Crown Proceedings Act 1947. The jurisdiction of these tribunals is generally focused on specific subjects such as social security, registration of childrens homes, local taxation etc. In the United States also, specialised commissions exist to adjudicate disputes. Examples are the Inter-state Commerce Commission, Federal Trade Commission etc. The strongest form of administrative tribunals exists in France, known as the Council of State System. Thus administrative tribunals exist in different names in different countries.

Article 117 of the Constitution of Bangladesh sanctions the setting up of administrative tribunals. Administrative tribunals in Bangladesh owe their existence to the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1980 (Act VII of 1981). The specific purpose of the act is to establish tribunals to exercise jurisdiction in respect of matters relating to the terms and conditions of persons in the service of the republic. The act requires that it will come into force on such date as the government may choose to by a notification in the official gazette. Pursuant to this requirement, the government notified that 1 February 1981 would the date when the act relating to administrative tribunals would come into effect. It is further laid down in the Act that when the government establishes one or more administrative tribunals, it shall specify the area within which each tribunal shall exercise its jurisdiction. The tribunal consists of one member to be appointed by the government who is or has been a district judge. The terms and conditions of the appointment of the member are to be determined by the government.

An administrative tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to bear on and determine applications made by person in the service of the republic in respect of terms and conditions of his service including pension rights. It can also entertain applications in respect of any action taken in relation to him as a person in the service of the republic. However, the legal requirement further is that such person making an application must be a person who is aggrieved by any action or order. In case where a higher administrative authority exists to set aside, vary or modify any action or order, no such application can be admitted by the administrative tribunal until the higher authority has taken a decision on the matter. There is also a time limit set for moving the administrative tribunal for redressing the grievances. This time limit is six months from the date on which any order is made or action taken by the appropriate administrative authority. It is gathered that the time limit of six months has since been increased through an amendment during the Non-party Caretaker government of 2007-08. However, this amendment to be effective has to be approved by the Sangsad which is yet to be done. A person in the service of the republic is defined in the Act as a person who is or has been retired or otherwise dismissed, removed or discharged from such service. A person in the defence service is excluded from such a definition.

The Act also provides for the establishment of an administrative appellate tribunal. The Appellate Tribunal consists of one chairman and two other members to be appointed by the government. The qualifications and experience for appointment of chairman and members are also provided in the Act. The chairman has to be a person who is, or has been, or is qualified to be a judge of the Supreme Court or has been an officer in the service of the republic not below the rank of an additional secretary to the government. As for the two members, one has to be a person who is or has been an officer in the service of the republic not below the rank of a joint secretary. The other member will have to be a person who is or has been a district judge. The terms and conditions of appointment are determined by the government. The Administrative Appellate Tribunal is required to be established by a gazette notification. Such notification establishing the appellate tribunal was issued on 22 August 1983.

The jurisdiction of the appellate tribunal extends to hearing and determining appeals from any order or decision of an administrative tribunal. Any person aggrieved by an order or decision of an administrative tribunal may, within two months from the date of making of the order or decision, prefer an appeal. The appellate tribunal may confirm, set aside, vary or modify any order or decision of the administrative tribunal. The order passed by the appellate tribunal is final. The powers and procedures of the tribunals are also provided in the Act. All proceedings before a tribunal is deemed to be a judicial proceeding.

The line of distinction between the jurisdiction of the administrative tribunal and the writ jurisdiction of the High Court is not very clear. Many cases are moved in the High Court which relate to grievances arising out of terms and conditions of persons in the service of the republic. This is done on grounds of violation of specific constitutional rights.

At present there are two administrative tribunals, one located at Dhaka and the other at Bogra. In addition, there are other tribunals and specialized commissions such as the Income Tax Tribunal, Securities Exchange Commission, and Taxes Settlement Commission. There is also a separate Ombudsman for redress of grievance of the tax payers. [AMM Shawkat Ali]