Central Administrative Tribunal - UPSC Polity Notes

The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) was established in 1985 through the Administrative Tribunals Act. The CAT is responsible for adjudication or trial of matters connected with recruitment and conditions of service of personnel in public service in India. This is an important aspect of polity & governance for the UPSC exam.

Central Administrative Tribunal

The CAT was created by the Act in 1985 under Article 323A of the Constitution of India. The Tribunal derives its jurisdiction, powers and authority from this Section. It was established via the 42nd Constitutional Amendment of the Constitution.

    • Tribunals under Article 323A can be formed only through the Parliament and not the State Legislatures.
    • However, Article 323B, which deals with other tribunals, enables such other tribunals to be formed both by the Parliament and the State Legislatures.
  • Article 323A is only for tribunals for public service matters.
    • Only one service at the central level, and one for each state or two or more states can be established.
    • Here, there is no hierarchy of tribunals.

Central Administrative Tribunal Mandate

The mandate of the CAT is to adjudicate matters related to the recruitment and conditions of service of personnel engaged in public service in the country.

Central Administrative Tribunal Jurisdiction

The CAT exercises original jurisdiction over all service matters concerned with:

  1. Members of the all-India services.
  2. Persons appointed to any civil service of the Union or civil post under the Union.
  3. Civilians appointed to any defence services or posts related to defence.
  4. Employees of PSUs or public sector organisations notified by the government.


Members of the defence forces, officers, Supreme Court staff, the Parliament’s secretarial staff are not covered under the CAT.

Composition of Central Administrative Tribunal

Central Administrative Tribunal’s members are drawn from legal and administrative fields to provide the benefit of expertise in both domains.

  • Chairperson (tenure of 5 years or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier)
    • Should be an SC judge or the Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • Vice-chairperson (tenure of 5 years or 62 years of age, whichever is earlier)
  • Other members

All are appointed by the President.

Functioning of Central Administrative Tribunal

The following are some of the features of the CAT’s functioning:

  • The Tribunal has been conferred the power to exercise the same jurisdiction and authority regarding contempt of itself as a High Court. 
  • Appeals against the orders of a tribunal could be made in the High Court (and not the SC directly – Chandra Kumar Case, 1997).
  • The CAT has 17 Benches in the country as well as 21 Circuit Benches.
  • The CAT Principal Bench deals with matters of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
  • In deciding cases, the Tribunal is guided by the principles of natural justice. It is not bound by the Civil Procedure Code.
  • The central government decides the salaries, emoluments and conditions of service of the Tribunal’s employees.
  • A petitioner can either appear in person before the Tribunal or take the help of a legal practitioner.

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