New Delhi, Jan 29 : The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from Centre on a plea seeking direction to fill up vacant posts of the Chairperson, members and other staff at the Appellate Tribunal Prevention of Money Laundering Act (ATPMLA) in the capital.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah took note of the submissions made by senior advocate Mahabir Singh that the vacancies in the tribunal are not being filled up, since 2019, which is causing immense hardship.
After a brief hearing in the matter, the bench issued notice on the PIL filed by lawyer and activist Amit Sahni. “Issue notice returnable in four weeks. Learned counsel for the petitioner is permitted to serve a copy of the petition to the office of the learned Solicitor General,” it said.
The plea contended that one post of member fell vacant in 2018, and the tenure of the Chairman and two members got completed in 2019. “The Tribunal is constrained to function with its sole member and therefore sufficient number of matters cannot be taken up in absence of Presiding Officers,” the plea said.
The petitioner argued that large number of unfilled vacancies is hampering the progress of the functioning of the tribunal, and there is imminent need for expediting the process of selections and appointments to ensure speedy justice.
Citing media reports, the plea contended that Centre had cleared the name of Justice Sunil Gaur, a former judge of the Delhi High Court, in August 2019 to be appointed as a chairman of the tribunal after completion of incumbent Justice Manmohan Singh’s tenure in September 2019.
In December last year, the petitioner made a representation to the Centre to take adequate steps to fill the pending vacancies as soon as possible but no action has been taken so far. “The shortage of vacancies at the aforesaid Tribunal is required to be redressed immediately on priority basis but unfortunately, the Respondent has failed to take any significant step towards appointments of Chairman, members and other administrative staff thereby de-facto frustrating the very object for which the Tribunal was constituted,” added the plea.
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