Q. Most of the quasi-judicial bodies in India act as “toothless tigers”. Discuss the measures needed to be taken to make them more effective.
A. A quasi-judicial body is a non judicial body which can interpret law. It is an entity such as an arbitrator or tribunal board, which has powers and procedures resembling those of a court of law or judge, and which is obliged to objectively determine facts and draw conclusions from them so as to provide the basis of an official action.Hearing a petition on extrajudicial killings in Manipur recently the Supreme Court noted that the National Human Rights Commission, the ―protector, advisor, monitor and educator of human rights‖, had referred to itself as ―a toothless tiger‖ – an abject admission of the statutory body‘s helplessness and failure.
Reasons which reflect that most of the quasi judicial bodies act as toothless tigers: a) Verdicts are recommendatory in nature b) Appeal lies with the courts and it only adds an extra layer of judicial intervention. c) No special staff for investigation into the matters and they have to rely on the state machineries giving rise to conflict of interest on various occasions. d) Lack of independence like judiciary.
Quasi judicial bodies can play a crucial role in effective delivery of justice in India if following measures are adopted comprehensively:
- The enforcement of decisions of quasi judicial bodies needs to be quick and transparent. More powers should be given to the quasi judicial bodies than mere recommendatory powers which will enhance their stature. For example: Central Information Commission directives should have equal weightage as that of a ruling by the civil court.
- It is also important to lessen their numbers, streamline their existence such that they complement judiciary and not just add another layer.
- Reduce the meddling of executive in the appointments procedure. Homogenisation of appointment and retiring age of various quasi judicial bodies will enhance their independent working conditions. For example: NHRC chief retires at the age of 70 and it needs to be brought at parity with the rest. Also there is an urgent need to set up independent scrutiny cum selection committee for the appointment of various members.
- Training of special staff for each quasi judicial bodies to increase their effectiveness. Example: NHRC had to rely on state police recently against the complaints of Human Rights abuse in West Bengal. Such shortcomings must be alleviated at the earliest. The quasi judicial bodies help in speedy delivery of justice, improvement in the administrative machinery and thus in turn lead to good governance. Providing more powers to these bodies and making them independent supported by trained staff will lead to achieving the objectives comprehensively.