Role of Quasi-Judicial Bodies
A Quasi-Judicial body is a non-judicial entity empowered to interpret laws. The powers and procedures used by these bodies are similar to those of the courts of law such as an arbitrator or a tribunal board. They are obliged to judge facts impartially and give solutions to provide the basis for official action. Their area of authority is limited to land use, financial markets, zoning, public standards, etc.
The actions of a quasi-judicial body provide remedies to situations; they are also empowered to impose legal penalties which may affect the rights of private parties through rulemaking. A quasi-judicial body doesn’t need to resemble a court of law, for instance, the election commission of India is a quasi-judicial body that does not resemble a Court of Law. Some other examples of quasi-judicial bodies in India are Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Intellectual Property Appellate Tribunal, National Human Rights Commission, SEBI, Central Information Commission, etc.
The Quasi-Judicial bodies can also be created to fulfill specific purposes, they are as follows:
- Central administrative tribunal: This entity looks after the disputes concerning civil servants. For instance, determining the age of civil servants in case of a dispute.
- National Human Rights Commission: It determines cases involving a violation of human rights. They investigate human rights abuse and recommend steps to prevent it.
- National river water dispute tribunal: This body looks after disputes between states involving water sharing issues. They have the power to grant awards to share water among disputing states.
- Election commission: This body is in charge of conducting, controlling, and supervising elections. It also performs some judicial functions like examining and maintaining a code of conduct, also determining the disqualification of legislators.
- Other regulatory bodies: Besides the above-mentioned bodies there are some other bodies like the SEBI, TRAI, IRDA who ensure transparency in the market economy. They are also empowered to punish for violation of rules by fines.
The characteristic features of the Quasi-Judicial bodies are as follows:
- Adjudicating Disputes: The quasi-judicial bodies adjudicate and decide penalties, the parties can approach these bodies for justice without undergoing the hassle of approaching the judiciary. The disputes can be monetary, the conduct of rules, or any dispute not directly linked with the judiciary. For instance, tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies that bring about amicable solutions to problems between two parties, especially states.
- Nature of the quasi-judicial bodies: These bodies can be statutory, regulatory, or constitutional. The National Human Rights Commission is a statutory body, while the Finance Commission is a constitutional body and the SEBI is a regulatory body all these bodies perform specific judicial functions as well.
- Heads of the bodies: Unlike the judiciary which is headed by a judge, these bodies are led by individuals who are well versed in a field like Finance, Economics, and Law.
- Limited powers: The powers of these bodies are limited unlike the judiciary, they can only decide on cases that fall under their purview of expertise. For instance, the Company Law Appellate Tribunal can decide cases regarding governance and functioning of corporate companies their powers are limited to this area.
- Power of punishing: These bodies are not merely advisory they have the authority to punish in matters that fall under their jurisdiction. For example, the Consumer Court of India deals with consumer disputes and punishes the company indulging in illegal practices.
- Judicial review: The verdicts issued by these bodies can be challenged in a court of law, and the decision of the judiciary is supreme.
The Quasi-judicial bodies are popular these days, owing to their positive impact. The advantages of quasi-judicial bodies are as follows:
- Cost-effective: tribunals are cost-effective in comparison to the conventional judicial processes. The cost-friendly nature of the tribunals encourages people to seek justice and redress their grievances.
- Hassle-free: the tribunals do not require lengthy or complex procedures for submitting of applications. These bodies are accessible, free from technicalities and they proceed more rapidly and efficiently under expert supervision.
- Sharing of workload: The tribunals by taking up many cases reduce the workload of the judiciary. For example, the National Green Tribunal adjudicated on matters concerning the environment and pollution.
- Speedy justice: they are more efficient and provide speedy redressal of grievances.
- Expert knowledge: A tribunal consists of experienced and knowledgeable individuals who easily understand the technicalities of the case brought before them thereby providing the right solution to the problem
The Quasi- judicial bodies are also burdened with a lot of issues, they are as follows:
- The concept of Quasi-judicial bodies is new to India; as a result, these bodies are mostly understaffed and burdened with a lot of cases rendering the very purpose of speedy justice ineffective.
- The decisions and judgements given by the Tribunals are often challenged in the courts of law which also negate the very purpose of a quasi-judicial body.
- The cost-effective nature of the tribunals encourages people to fight for justice but also invited a lot of false cases to the tribunals.
The Quasi-judicial bodies are an indispensable entity of the Indian federation that guarantees the citizens of the country their share of justice. It functions effectively by reducing the workload of the judiciary and providing speedy justice to the aggrieved. However, the government must take constructive steps towards eliminating the loopholes that exist in the functioning of these bodies to make these bodies efficient and responsive to the needs of the individuals of the country.