A tribunal is a quasi-judicial institution established to deal with issues such as adjudicating disputes, deciding rights between disputing parties, formulating an administrative decision and so on. As per Section. 7A of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, the appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute one or more Industrial Tribunals for the adjudication of industrial disputes.

The different types of tribunals are:

i) Central Administrative Tribunal

ii) Income Tax Appellate Tribunal

iii)Industrial Tribunal

iv) Motor Accidents Claim Tribunal


The court is a judicial body established by the government to adjudicate disputes between parties through a formal legal process. Its goal is to provide justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law. As per Section. 7 of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, the appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute one or more Labour Courts for the adjudication of industrial disputes.

The various courts are as under:

i) Supreme Court

ii) High Court

iii) Subordinate Courts

Further, the key differences between Tribunal and Court are as follows:

i) The decision given by the tribunals is known as the award. In contrast, the court’s decision is known as judgement, decree, conviction or acquittal.

ii) Tribunals are formed to deal with specific matters, courts deal with all types of cases.

iii) The tribunal can be a party to the dispute, whereas a court cannot be a party to the dispute. 

iv) The court is presided over by the judge or panel of judges. But, tribunals are headed by a chairman and othermembers, elected by the appropriate authority.

v) There is no code of procedure in a tribunal, but a court follows strict code of procedure.

Industrial award

As per Section 2 (b) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, “award” means an interim or a final determination of any industrial dispute by any Labour Court, Industrial Tribunal or National Industrial Tribunal. 

Would an appeal lie against the determination of Labour Court or Tribunals to the Supreme Court under Article  136  of the Constitution ? Judicial review of Industrial award

In 1956, Section 10A was added to the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947, which gave parties the option to refer their industrial dispute to an arbitrator of their choice. 

This raised the question of whether a decision/an award of an Arbitrator is subject to Judicial Review.In Engineering Mazdoor Sabha v. Hind Cycles Ltd. the Supreme Court held that an arbitration under Section 10A of the Act is not a tribunal for the purposes of Article 136 of the Constitution. As a result, an appeal under Article 136 from a decision of the “arbitrator” cannot be heard by the Court.

In this regard, it is pertinent to mention that for invoking Article 136 (1), two conditions must be met as follows:

First, the appeal must be from a judgment, decree, determination or order and it should not be purely an executive or administrative order. It indicates that such determination or order must be judicial or quasi-judicial. 

Secondly, the determination or order must be issued by any court or tribunal. 

Regarding the first condition, it is beyond dispute that an arbitrator’s award under Section 10A of the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 is a quasi-judicial act.

The real controversy revolves around the second condition that whether an arbitration under Section 10A is a tribunal. Regarding the requirements of a tribunal, the court in the Engineering Mazdoor Case stated that the Tribunals to have certain judicial powers such as compelling witnesses to appear, administer oaths and follow certain procedures to comply the rules of natural justice.
It is pertinent to mention that Section 10A of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 is vested with the authority to compel witnesses to appear, administer oaths and follow certain procedures to act judicially and naturally while resolving disputes. Therefore, in the light of this provision of the Act, an arbitrator appointed under Section 10Acannot be treated as a private arbitrator to whom a dispute has been referred under the Act. 

In the case of Bharat Bank Ltd v. Employees of Bharat Bank Ltd, the Supreme Court held that the order and awards of industrial adjudicators are directly subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court under its special leave appellate jurisdiction under Article 136. In this case, the Supreme Court determined that the adjudicatory authorities under the Act meet the definition of Tribunal as per Article 136 of the Constitution.

Therefore, as per the above decision of the Apex Court, it can be said that an appeal would obviously lie against the determination/award of Labour Court or Tribunals to the Supreme Court under Article  136  of the Constitution.

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