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Most of the matters that have come up at the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) in the past few weeks have been adjourned due to non-availability of the Bench, with no final hearings.

A SAT Bench is supposed to consist of three members that includes a presiding officerand a technical member.

According to current norms, at least one judicial member is required to pronounce a finalorder. The tribunalโ€™s presiding officer Justice Tarun Agarwala retired and demitted office onDecember 29. Justice MT Joshi vacated his office in February last year.

In the absence of judicial member, the technical member has been giving interim relief tolitigants in new matters that have come up for hearing.


โ€œNon-availability of a complete Bench has various implications including increasedbacklog of cases and inefficiencies in the judicial process,โ€ said Sumit Agrawal, Founder,Regstreet Law Advisors.

โ€œTribunals were primarily created to ensure speedy adjudication of cases. In the absenceof a judicial member, matters cannot be finally disposed of, and pendency of cases willcontinue to rise,โ€ added Pulkit Sukhramani, Partner, JSA, a law firm.

The Ministry of Finance had issued a vacancy circular for selecting the presiding officer onAugust 14 last year. The person has to be a former judge of the Supreme Court or a chiefjustice of the High Court. The selection would be done by a search-cum-selectioncommittee.

โ€œOnce appointed, the incoming member will be burdened with a large number of pendingcases. The tenure of the members at SAT is known at the time of appointment itself. Thegovernment must ensure that the appointment of a new member takes place around thetime the previous memberโ€™s term is ending,โ€ said Sukhramani.

Cases such as Bombay Dyeing and Franklin Templeton which were argued before theprevious Bench and in which orders have not been passed, will have to be argued afreshbefore the new Bench.

โ€œThere are concerns regarding the fate of cases that have been finally heard previously bythe full Bench but are awaiting orders. These will require re-hearing by the new Bench.Ensuring swift appointments to maintain continuity in case hearings and minimisedisruption in the judicial process, is the need of the hour,โ€ said Agrawal.

Ways to move HC

According to Sukhramani, parties are likely to find innovative ways to approach the HighCourt in matters where urgent reliefs may be required. However, scope of reliefs that canbe prayed in writ proceedings is different from what can be prayed before SAT, he said.

SAT hears appeals against orders passed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India,the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and the Pension FundRegulatory and Development Authority.

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