THE GOVERNMENT has appointed 31 members to the Benches of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) after the Supreme Court urged the government to fill vacancies immediately.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved the appointment of eight judicial and 10 technical members to the NCLT as well as six judicial members and seven accountant members to the ITAT, according to a communication by the Department of Personnel and Training on Saturday.
The Bench noted that it did not want a confrontation with the government on this issue. The appointments to the NCLT are for five years or until the member reaches the age of 65 while appointments to the ITAT are for 4 years or until the members reach the age of 67.
The Supreme Court had called out the government last week, saying the government had “emasculated” tribunals, such as the NCLT, by not appointing members. The court noted that a “critical situation has arisen” due to the vacancies at the NCLT and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) with respect to the completion of corporate bankruptcy proceedings.
Seventy five per cent of the 4,541 corporate insolvency cases that were ongoing at the end of June had crossed the 270-day threshold. The bankruptcy law requires that corporate insolvency proceedings be completed within 330 days, including a 60 day allowance for litigation. Cases that do not yield a successful resolution are required to be sent for liquidation barring exceptional cases.
The Bench had said it expected appointments by September 13, the next date of hearing.
Benches of the NCLT deal with matters pertaining to company law as well as bankruptcy resolution while the ITAT deals with appeals related to income tax matters. The industry has flagged concerns about long pending vacancies at the NCLT as a key reason behind delays in bankruptcy resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
The Standing Committee on Finance had also called out the government on the impact of vacancies at the NCLT, which is also operating without a full-time president, and the NCLAT, which is operating without a full-time Chairperson.
“There is no respect for the judgments of this court, that is what we are feeling. There is testing the patience of the court…,” Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, heading a three-judge Bench with Justices L Nageswara Rao and D Y Chandrachud, told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
Andhra High Court judge Justice Telaprolu Rajani, Bombay High Court Retired (Rtd) Judge Justice Pradeep Narhari Deshmukh, Madras High Court Retd Judge Justice S Ramathilagam and District Court Judge Deep Chandra Joshi are among those appointed judicial members to the NCLT. The newly-appointed technical members include Principal Commissioner of Income Tax Ajai Das Mehrotra, Retd NHPC CMD Balraj Joshi, Retd Ministry of Panchayati Raj Secretary Rahul Prasad Bhatnagar, Retd Principal Director General of Income Tax Subrata Kumar Dash, Retd Department of Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava and Retd SBI Chief General Manager Shree Prakash Singh.
Six judicial members have been named to ITAT. They are advocates Sonjoy Sarma, S Seethalakshmi and T R Senthil Kumar, Additional District & Sessions Judges Shatin Goyal and Anubhav Sharma, and Law Officer in SBI Manomohan Das, PTI reported.