Cuttack: The Orissa High Court on Thursday ordered the transfer of all cases pending with the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).
There are around 70,000 cases pending with the four SAT benches in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Sambalpur.
While more than 63,000 cases have been pending in the High Court for over five years, more will be added to the backlog with the abolition of SAT. The cases constitute 42.3 per cent of the total 1,49,248 cases pending in the High Court as on August 7, 2019.
On July 5, the Centre had issued a gazette notification to announce the abolition of Odisha SAT under Section 4(2) of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 and Section 21 of the General Clauses Act.
Protesting against the Centre’s decision, the Cuttack SAT Bar Association had moved the High Court for a stay. However, the court rejected the plea on August 7.
The Association president, Dhuliram Patnaik, had said that while more than 63,000 cases were pending in SAT for disposal, the Central notification for the abolition of the Tribunal was grossly illegal.
Stating that out of the total 1,49,248 pending cases in the High Court, 68,817 are writ petitions, 40,541 criminal cases and 39,890 are civil cases, he said while these cases have been pending for several years, how long will the High Court rake to dispose about 70,000 additional SAT cases when about 50 per cent of the sanctioned posts of the judges has remained vacant for several years. “As against the sanctioned strength of 27 judges, the High Court has 14 judges at present,” he added.
Odisha SAT was set up on July 14, 1986. Later, the Odisha Cabinet in a meeting on September 9, 2015, decided to abolish the tribunal. The state government later placed a proposal to this effect before the Orissa High Court under whose recommendation, the Centre abolished the tribunal.