Justice Shiva Kirti Singh should continue as Chairman of TDSAT till fresh appointment:SC

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New Delhi, Jun 3 (PTI) The Supreme Court Thursday directed that former apex court judge Justice Shiva Kirti Singh should continue as Chairman of Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) till fresh appointment is made to that post. A three-judge bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat requested the Chief Justice N V Ramana to expedite the process of appointment in the meantime.

The top court passed the order on the plea filed by the advocates practicing in Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) seeking setting aside the letter dated May 31, 2021 of the Centre.

By the letter, the Ministry of Communications informed the Director of Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal that the Chairman of the Tribunal Justice (Retd.) Shiva Kirti Singh should demit office on April 20, 2021. The reasons given for the decision is that the Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021 ('the Ordinance') was passed on April 4, 2021 by which certain amendments have been made to Section 184 of the Finance Act and in accordance with the amended provisions of the Ordinance, the Chairman cannot continue beyond April 20, 2021 on which date he would complete his tenure of four years from the date of his appointment.

The top court noted that on January 4, 2021, it had directed continuance of Justice (Retd.) Shiva Kirti Singh as the Chairman of TDSAT as the other members of the Tribunal have retired earlier. The apex court had said that as the selection process for appointment of the Chairman, TDSAT had not yet been initiated, in the interests of justice, 'we passed the order dated January 4. 2021 permitting Justice (Retd.) Shiva Kirti Singh to continue as the Chairman, TDSAT'.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that that as per the top court's order in January, Justice Singh was to continue for three months till a new appointment was made. However, since no appointment has been made yet, the Centre has written to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana to constitute a search and selection committee.

The top court said ,”We are informed by the learned Attorney General for India that the Chief Justice of India was requested to constitute a selection committee and finalise the selection to the post of Chairman, TDSAT. “We have no doubt in our mind that the selection process would be expedited. In the meantime, we direct that Justice (Retd.) Shiva Kirti Singh shall be continued as Chairman, TDSAT till fresh appointment is made to that post. Otherwise, TDSAT has to be closed which would result in no access to justice to the litigant public. PTI PKS SJK RKS RKS