The Cabinet which met here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu gave the nod for the restoration of the SAT. The issue had figured prominently in the election manifesto of the Congress in the run-up to the 2022 Vidhan Sabha elections.
The SAT as and when reinstated will have a Chairman and three Members, including one Judicial and two administrative, besides a Registrar.
The previous BJP regime had scrapped the SAT on July 3, 2019. The BJP had then said that there was a big question mark on the impartiality of the decisions being taken by the SAT, apart from the poor disposal and huge pendency.
Himachal was amongst one of the first states in the country to set up the SAT way back in 1986 and ever since it has been scrapped twice by BJP regimes. The SAT was set up during the Congress regime headed by Virbhadra Singh to address the grievances and issues concerning the government employees, whose number now is over 2.75 lakh.
Interestingly, there has virtually been a flip-flop on the reinstatement and scrapping of the SAT each time there is change of power in the hill state. The SAT was wound up for the first time in July 2008 by then-BJP Chief Minister PK Dhumal. Later, the Virbahdra-led Government again reinstated the SAT on February 28, 2015, as per its election promise.
The justification for the winding up of the SAT for the first time then was that there were almost 23,000 cases pending before the Bench, which were then transferred to the High Court. Another argument given against the SAT was that since the majority of the cases decided by SAT end up being challenged in the High Court, there was no justification for its existence.