All the trappings of a court

All the trappings of a court mean

In Bharat Bank Ltd. v. Employees of the Bharat Bank Ltd, (AIR 1950 SC 188 : (1950) SCR 459) Supreme court opined :-

“7. Now there can be no doubt that the Industrial Tribunal has, to use a well-known expression, “all the trappings of a court” and performs functions which cannot but be regarded as judicial. (…)

27.(…) There can be no doubt that to be a Court, the person or persons who constitute it must be entrusted with judicial functions, that is, of deciding litigated questions according to law. However, by agreement between parties arbitrators may be called upon to exercise judicial powers and to decide a dispute according to law but that would not make the arbitrators a Court. It appears to me that before a person or persons can be said to constitute a Court it must be held that they derive their powers from the State and are exercising the judicial powers of the State. In R. v. London County Council ((1931) 2 K.B. 215), Saville L.J. gave the following meaning to the word “Court” or “judicial authority” :-

‘It is not necessary that it should be a Court in the sense that this Court is a Court, it is enough if it is exercising, after hearing evidence, judicial functions in the sense that it has to decide on evidence between a proposal and an opposition; and it is not necessary to be strictly a Court if it is a tribunal which has to decide rightly after hearing evidence and opposition.’

28. As pointed out in picturesque language by Lord Sankey L.C. in Shell Co. of Australia v. Federal Commissioner of Taxation, ((1931) A.C. 275), there are tribunals with many of the trappings of a Court which, nevertheless, are not Courts in the strict sense of exercising judicial power. (…) It was pointed out in the above case that a tribunal is not necessarily a Court in this strict sense because it gives a final decision, nor because it hears witnesses on oath, nor because two or more contending parties appear before it between whom it has to decide, nor because it gives decisions which affect the rights of subjects nor because there is an appeal to a Court, nor because it is a body to which a matter is referred by another body (…).”


Ref: AIR 2009 SC 3256 : (2009) 5 SCR 8 : (2009) 4 SCC 625