On November 28, 2012, the Comptroller and Auditor General submitted its report on the implementation of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). According to the report most of the projects initiated under JNNURM have not been completed. For instance with respect to urban infrastructure projects, only 231 projects out of the 1298 sanctioned projects have been completed. Similarly, with respect to housing projects, only 22 of the 1517 projects have been completed. Some of the other key recommendations of the report are:
The need and objectives of JNNURM According to the 2011 census India’s urban population has increased from 286 million in 2001 to 377 million in 2011 . With the increase in urban population, there is a requirement to improve the urban infrastructure and improve the service delivery mechanisms. With these specific objectives in mind, the central government launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission 2005-2006. The aim of the Mission is to encourage reforms and fast track planned development of identified cities (such as cities with a population of more than 1 million as per the 2001 census). JNNURM has two main components namely : (i) Urban Infrastructure and Governance and (ii) Urban Infrastructure Development for Small and Medium Towns. The duration of JNNURM was from 2005-06 to 2011-12. However, as the projects have not been completed the Government has extended its duration until March 2014. Funds for JNNURM The funds for JNNURM are provided through the Additional Central Assistance. This implies that the funds are provided as grants to the states directly from the centre. In the 2012 Union Budget, the central government has allocated Rs 12,522 crore for JNNURM. This represents around 10 % of the total central assistance through the different schemes to states and union territories in 2012-13. As on June 30 2012, 554 projects at a total cost of Rs 62,253 crore have been sanctioned under the Urban Infrastructure and Governance sub-mission of JNNURM. The table below shows the status of the sanctioned JNNURM projects in the different states. State wise status of the projects under JNNURM (as on August 6, 2012)
|Name of State||Total Allocation (Rs Lakh)||Number of sanctioned projects||Completed Projects|
|Jammu & Kashmir||48,836||5||NA|
Source: Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission; PRS.
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.