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SC continues Justice S K Singh as TDSAT chairman | India News

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NEW DELHI: With the selection panel headed by Chief Justice of India or his nominee SC Judge unable to find a successor, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered continuance of retired SC Judge Shiva Kirti Singh as the chairperson of Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
Justice Singh was appointed as chairperson of TDSAT on April 21, 2017 and under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act, it is a three year post. This means, Justice Singh should have demitted office on April 20, 2020. However, owing to large vacancies in the post of members and to avert the possibility of the apex telecom appellate tribunal being shut down for litigants, the SC has been periodically extending the term of Justice Singh.
The last such extension was granted by the SC on January 4. The TDSAT chairperson is selected by a panel headed by CJI or his nominee. Though Justice Singh’s successor should have been selected by the panel much prior to April 20 last year for smooth transition of office to the new chairman, the panel has not been able to do so for various reasons.
With the passage of Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance on April 4 which allowed a four year tenure to chairpersons of all tribunals retrospectively, Justice Singh automatically got an extension till April 20, 2021. However, as still no successor was selected by the CJI-led panel, the ministry of communication on May 31 wrote a letter to the Director of TDSAT informing that Justice Singh should have demitted office by April 20, 2021.
Appearing for advocates practicing in TDSAT, senior advocate Vikas Singh said the apex telecom tribunal would be shut if Justice Singh was forced to demit office by the government as the last of the members had retired in October 2019. Attorney general K K Venugopal informed a bench of Justices L N Rao, Hemant Gupta and S R Bhat that the CJi was requested to constitute a selection committee to finalise selection to the post of TDSAT chairman.
The bench said, “We have no doubt in our mind that the selection process would be expedited. In the meantime, we direct that Justice 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. We request theCJI to expedite the process of appointment of the Chairman, TDSAT.” On January 4, the SC had directed continuation of Justice Singh as the Chairman of TDSAT as the other members of the Tribunal had retired earlier.



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