The 2010 Commonwealth Games may have ended on October 14th, but the controversy surrounding the organising of the games is far from over. In Parliament, the Opposition has called for a Joint-Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to be formed to investigate suspected financial irregularities in the organising of the Games. In a statement in Parliament on Tuesday, Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports M.S. Gill commented that “All irregularities will be examined and the guilty will not be spared”. In July 2010, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) found irregularities in 14 Games related construction projects. It has been reported that officials from the CVC now believe total misappropriation of Games Funds could be between Rs 5000 crore and Rs 8000 crore . So what is being done about it? Currently, six different government organisations are conducting independent inquiries into financial irregularities, corruption, and mismanagement of the Games: the High Level (Shunglu) Commission, CVC, CAG, CBI, Income Tax Department, and Enforcement Directorate (ED). With so many government organisations involved, it can be difficult to decipher the big picture. Here is a breakdown of what each organisation is doing: High Level Commission (Shunglu Commission): The Commission was appointed by the Prime Minister on October 15th. It is chaired by V.K. Shunglu, former Comptroller and Auditor General of India, who has been given the status equivalent to a Supreme Court Judge. The Commission has a broad mandate to investigate all matters regarding the Games, specifically:
A report from the Commission detailing its findings is expected by mid January. Central Vigilance Commission (CVC): The CVC first found financial irregularities in 14 Games projects in July 2010. Subsequently, it asked the CBI to register a corruption case against MCD officials in connection with a tender issued for a Games project. In total, the CVC has found irregularities in 38 games related projects, under the following departments and agencies:
The CVC has directed the above agencies to respond to queries regarding the irregularities and has directed the CBI to begin a Preliminary Inquiry into them . The CVC will report its findings to the Shunglu Commission. Income Tax Department: The I-T Department is investigating tenders and awards of contracts for Games related works, as well as tax evasion . It has conducted raids in offices of over 30 business firms and individuals . Enforcement Directorate (ED): The ED is proceeding against Organising Committee officials for violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for projects involving venue development and overlays contracts awarded by the Organising Committee. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI): It has been reported that the CBI had received over 300 complaints of corruption in Games projects by August 2010. It is verifying these claims and investigating matters highlighted by the CVC. Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG): In August 2009, the CAG published a report entitled Preparedness for the XIX Commonwealth Games highlighting the lack of preparedness for the Games and its escalating cost. The CAG is conducting a detailed audit of the Games that is expected to be published in March 2011. Given that CAG reports are tabled in Parliament, the March 2011 report will be critical to the Parliamentary debate on the Games. Two members of the Organising Committee, the Joint Director and the Deputy Director General, were arrested by the CBI this past Monday. However, Given that the report of the Shunglu Commssion is due in January 2011, the CAG audit will follow two months later, and the current Opposition demand for a JPC remains unresolved, it may be some time before significant details are made public.
 http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/BJP-to-press-for-JPC-probe-into-spectrum-Adarsh-CWG-scams/articleshow/6934697.cms  http://www.thehindu.com/news/article890174.ece  ttp://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/CVC-finds-irregularities-in-several-CWG-projects/articleshow/6229429.cms  http://www.deccanherald.com/content/105830/cwg-fraud-may-touch-rs.html  http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/games-over-pm-orders-probe-into-pre-event-mess/411739/  http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/CWG-probe-Shunglu-given-status-of-SC-judge/articleshow/6818404.cms  http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=66561  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/CWG-construction-CVC-asks-CBI-to-register-corruption-case/articleshow/6237714.cms  http://www.hindustantimes.com/specials/sports/cwg-2010/22-more-CWG-works-under-CVC-scanner/CWG2010-TopStories/SP-Article10-614446.aspx  http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Claiming-fraud---favour-in-Games-rentals--CVC-to-CBI--begin-probe/700998/ http://www.indianexpress.com/news/it-dept-collects-cwg-works-related-documents/698683/  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article837892.ece  http://www.indianexpress.com/news/cbi-has-over-300-complaints-regarding-games-works/655692/  http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/CAG-starts-Commonwealth-Games-audit-report-by-March-2011/articleshow/6252852.cms
Tribunals function as a parallel mechanism to the traditional court system. Tribunals were established for two main reasons - allowing for specialised subject knowledge in disputes on technical matters and reducing the burden on the court system. In India, some tribunals are at the level of subordinate courts with appeals lying with the High Court, while some others are at the level of High Courts with appeals lying with the Supreme Court. In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled that Parliament may create an alternative to High Courts provided that they have the same efficacy as the High Courts. For an overview of the tribunal system in India, see our note here.
In April 2021, the central government promulgated an Ordinance, which specified provisions related to the composition of the search-cum-selection committees for the selection of members of 15 Tribunals, and the term of office for members. Further, it empowered the central government to notify qualifications and other terms and conditions of service (such as salaries) for the Chairperson and members of these tribunals. In July 2021, the Supreme Court struck down certain provisions of the Ordinance (such as the provision specifying a four-year term for members) stating that these impinged on the independence of the judiciary from the government. In several earlier judgements, the Supreme Court has laid out guidelines for the composition of Tribunals and service conditions to ensure that these Tribunals have the same level of independence from the Executive as the High Courts they replace.
However, Parliament passed the Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021 in August 2021, which is almost identical to the April Ordinance and includes the provisions which had been struck down. This Act has been challenged in the Supreme Court. For a PRS analysis of the Bill, please see here.
On 16th September 2021, the central government notified The Tribunal (Conditions of Service) Rules, 2021 under the Tribunals Reforms Act, 2021. A couple of the provisions under these Rules may contravene principles laid out by the Supreme Court:
Appointment of the Administrative Member of the Central Administrative Tribunal as the Chairman
In case of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), the Rules specify that a person with at least three years of experience as the Judicial Member or Administrative Member may be appointed as the Chairman. This may violate the principles laid down by the past Supreme Court judgements.
The CAT supplants High Courts. In 1986, the Supreme Court stated that if an administrative tribunal supplants the High Courts, the office of the Chairman of the tribunal should be equated with that of the Chief Justice of the High Court. Therefore, the Chairman of the tribunal must be a current or former High Court Judge. Further, in 2019, the Supreme Court stated – “the knowledge, training, and experience of members or presiding officers of a tribunal must mirror, as far as possible, that of the Court it seeks to substitute”.
The Administrative Member of the CAT may be a person who has been an Additional Secretary to the central government or a central government officer with pay at least that of the Additional Secretary. Hence, the Administrative Member may not have the required judicial experience for appointment as the Chairman of CAT.
Leave Sanctioning Authority
The Rules specify that the central government will be the leave sanctioning authority for the Chairperson of tribunals, and Members (in case of absence of the Chairperson). In 2014, the Supreme Court specified that the central government (Executive) should not have any administrative involvement with the members of the tribunal as it may influence the independence and fairness of the tribunal members. In addition, it had observed that the Executive may be a litigant party and its involvement in administrative matters of tribunals may influence the fairness of the adjudication process. In judgements in 1997 and 2014, the Supreme Court recommended that the administration of all Tribunals should be under a nodal ministry such as the Law Ministry, and not the respective administrative ministry. In 2020, it recommended setting up of a National Tribunals Commission to supervise appointments and administration of Tribunals. The Rules are not in consonance with these recommendations.