On November 1, 2012, this blog had a post on a writ petition relating to the absence of a Presiding Officer in the Securities Appellate Tribunal (“SAT”). I wrote a piece in the Business Standard in my column on November 12, 2012 about how the SAT needs to be handled with care.
Since then, some more facts have become apparent. One of the remaining two members of the SAT will retire right after Christmas, which would render the SAT as a dysfunctional one-man tribunal again – a position it was placed in, around January 2009. It would not be open to the SAT to then conduct any final hearing, and it may only admit appeals and grant interim relief.
Worse, members of the SAT are selected by a committee comprising the Union Finance Secretary, the Reserve Bank of India Governor and the Presiding Officer of the SAT. The Presiding Officer chairs this committee. Now, there is no Presiding Officer and therefore, appointment of another member, could itself be rendered difficult, and could lead to litigation in the current environment, where any statutory appointment is prone to being a subject matter of challenge.