Take Erring Officials To Task : SC Judge

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New Delhi, Aug 2 (UNI) While Indian courts suffer from growing case arrears, a central administrative tribunal (CAT) handling government employees' service disputes ''is starving'' for cases, its chairman reported tonight.

''The tribunal is starving and thus craving for more work,'' Justice V K Bali told delegates as Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan opened an All India Conference of the Central Administrative Tribunal.

Justice Balakrishnan described the problems of the tribunal and stressed more efficiency.

Speaking on the occasion, Law and Justice Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj said the CAT has become very important and effective institution and needs to be strengthened.

Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension Prithviraj Chavan told delegates the Tribunal needed to be strengthened and made effective.

The two-day conference is expected to discuss steps to strengthen the CAT and envision its future in service law.

Chavan said the government was ''continuously simplifying'' rules, regulations and procedures to make them stakeholder-friendly.

He said public grievances cells with a nodal public grievance officer have been set up in all Ministries to hear and resolve officials' grievances ''to the extent possible''.

He noted how the CAT had grown from the five benches set up after the enactment of the Central Administrative Act, 1985, to provide government employees speedy and relatively inexpensive remedy.

It now has 17 regular benches and covers some 137 organisations, besides Central Government employees.

Supreme Court Judge Arijit Pasayat drew attention to the phenomenal rise in service disputes in recent decades and the need for early disposal of such cases.

He said a large number of disputes were easily avoidable. ''I see no reason why an old, retired employee should knock the doors of Tribunal/Court for getting his pension.'' Justice Pasayat said, ''I feel if governments fix responsibility and take to task erring officials, lodging of avoidable disputes would be minimised.'' UNI MJ SBC HT0000

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