The enactment of Administrative Tribunals Act in 1985 opened a new chapter in the sphere of administering justice to the aggrieved government servants.
Administrative Tribunals Act owes its origin to Article 323-A of the Constitution which empowers Central Government to set-up by an Act of Parliament, Administrative Tribunals for adjudication of disputes and complaints with respect to recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to the public service and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union and the States.
In pursuance of the provisions contained in the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, the Administrative Tribunals set-up under it exercise original jurisdiction in respect of service matters of employees covered by it.
As a result of the judgement dated 18 March 1997 of the Supreme Court, the appeals against the orders of an Administrative Tribunal shall lie before the Division Bench of the concerned High Court.
The Administrative Tribunals exercise jurisdiction only in relation to the service matters of the litigants covered by the Act.
The aggrieved person can also appear before it personally.
The Government can present its case through its departmental officers or legal practitioners.
Thus, the objective of the Tribunal is to provide for speedy and inexpensive justice to the litigants.
The Act provides for establishment of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and the State Administrative Tribunals.
The CAT was set-up on 1 November 1985.
Today, it has 17 regular benches, 15 of which operate at the principal seats of High Courts and the remaining two at Jaipur and Lucknow.
These Benches also hold circuit sittings at other seats of High Courts.
In brief, the tribunal consists of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Members.
The Members are drawn, both from judicial as well as administrative streams so as to give the Tribunal the benefit of expertise both in legal and administrative spheres.
The conditions of service of Hon’ble Chairman and Members are the same as applicable to a Judge of High Court as per the Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Act, 2006 (1 of 2007), which came into effect on 17.02.2007.
The Tribunal is guided by the principles of natural justice in deciding cases and is not bound by the procedure, prescribed by the Civil Procedure Code.
The Central Administrative Tribunal is empowered to frame its own rules of procedure and practice. Under the said provision of the Act, the Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987 and Central Administrative Tribunal Rules of Practice, 1993 have been notified to ensure smooth functioning if the Tribunal.
Under Section 17 of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985, the Tribunal has been conferred with the power to exercise the same jurisdiction and authority in respect of contempt of itself as a High Court.
Initially the decision of the Tribunal could be challenged before Hon’ble Supreme Court by filing Special Leave Petition.
However, after the Supreme Court’s decision in L. Chandra Kumar’s case, the orders of Central Administrative Tribunal are now being challenged by way of Writ Petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution before respective High Court in whose territorial jurisdiction the Bench of the Tribunal is situated.
The employees of the Central Administrative Tribunal are required to discharge their duties under the general superintendence of the Chairman.
Salaries and Allowances and Conditions of Service of the officers and other employees of the Tribunal are specified by the Central Government.
Tribunals for other matters.-
 The appropriate Legislature may, by law, provide for the adjudication or trial by tribunals of any disputes, complaints, or offenses with respect to all or any of the matters specified in clause (2) with respect to which such Legislature has power to make laws.
 The matters referred to in clause (1) are the following, namely—
[a] levy, assessment, collection and enforcement of any tax;
[b] foreign exchange, import and export across customs frontiers;
[c] industrial and labour disputes;
[d] land reforms by way of acquisition by the State of any estate as defined in article 31A or of any rights therein or the extinguishment or modification of any such rights or by way of ceiling on agricultural land or in any other way;
[e] ceiling on urban property;
[f] elections to either House of Parliament or the House or either House of the Legislature of a State, but excluding the matters referred to in article 329 and article 329A.
[g] production, procurement, supply and distribution of food-stuffs (including edible oil seeds and oils) and such other goods as the President may, by public notification, declare to be essential goods for the purpose of this article and control of prices of such goods;
[(h) rent, its regulation and control and tenancy issues including the right, title and interest of landlords and tenants.