The author, an eminent senior advocate, compliments the Supreme Court for having struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act. He warns that the Act would have, if upheld, grossly undermined judicial independence. He, however, candidly concedes that the existing Collegium system of appointment of Judges has several deficiencies and that it has enabled undeserving candidates to be elevated to high judicial positions. He has identified those deficiencies and offered suggestions on how they can be resolved
In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has declared the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) unconstitutional. The collegium system where judges appoint judges, will continue, as according to the Supreme Court the NJAC Act interfered with the independence of judiciary.
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The author, an eminent senior advocate, points out that the orders passed by the ITAT have severe ramifications on the taxpayers and the department and that it is essential that its Members undergo rigorous training before being permitted to exercise their powers. The author expresses concern that the newly appointed Members of the Tribunal do not appear to have undergone an “orientation” course and have been straightaway permitted to hear matters and pass judgements. He urges that the old practice of formally tutoring the new Members of their duties and responsibilities and of apprising them of the basic fundamental characteristics of a judge should be revived and implemented immediately. He emphasizes that the orientation course and judicial training will help the new Members to discharge their duties more efficiently and uphold the dignity and honour of the Tribunal
Income–tax Appellate Tribunal which was established on 25-1-1941 will be celebrating its platinum jubilee on 25-1-2016. Today, the Tribunal is considered as one of the finest institutions in our country. The credit must go to the Hon’ble Members who administer the justice and to the Tax Bar which represents matters before the Bench. Very recently, the Government has appointed 36 new members, many of who are very young and they have a long tenure to serve as members of the Tribunal. They have greater responsibility to preserve the purity and integrity of this Institution being one of the finest institutions in our country.
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The author expresses concern over the proposal of the Income-tax department to launch prosecution proceedings against taxpayers without waiting for the outcome of the appeals filed by them. He argues that this proposal is ill-advised and will result in grave miscarriage of justice
In recent days, some assessees have received the show cause notices for launching of the prosecution as soon as the penalty is confirmed by the Tribunal.
With respect, mere confirmation of penalty by the Tribunal cannot be a ground to initiate prosecution proceedings. Assessee may otherwise be filing returns regularly and paying the taxes and only in one year, unable to substantiate the claim of deduction. Can such an assessee be considered as tax evader?
Many times penalties are confirmed because the facts are not properly presented before the tax authorities and the appellate authorities. Read more ›
The author has raised the alarm that appointing the President and Members for the ITAT is not sufficient. He reminds the Government that it also needs to urgently appoint several Vice Presidents to fill the impending vacancies. If the Government drags its feet in the matter, the cause of justice will suffer, he warns
All tax professionals highly appreciate the appointment of 45 new members to the ITAT. As on date, there are more than 1 lakh appeals pending before the ITAT. Filling up of these vacancies will help certainly the case of ‘satvarnyay’ before the ITAT. One would appreciate that the ITAT has a sanctioned strength of 63 Benches at 27 different locations in our country. To ensure better administration, it is divided into nine zones and each zone is headed by a Vice–President and as per administrative orders, the ITAT should have one Senior Vice-President and 9 Vice-Presidents. However, the Government has not appointed any Vice-President since 2009 and Senior Vice-President since 2010. As a result, now, the ITAT has only four Vice-Presidents and out of them one is due to retire in coming October, 2015. Thus, this scenario is quite disturbing for the administration of justice, requiring very prompt action by the Hon’ble Law Minister.
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The author, an eminent senior advocate, is deeply anguished that the ITAT, which was at one time hailed as a “Model Tribunal”, is today facing the ignominy of being subjected to repeated strictures from the High Courts. The author has analyzed the reasons for this sorry state of affairs and offered valuable recommendations on what can be done to rectify the situation. He has also sent the clarion call to all stakeholders to rise to the occasion and work tirelessly towards restoring the glory and prestige of this august institution
The Income-tax Appellate Tribunal which is considered as mother Tribunal of all Tribunals which was established on 25th January, 1941 will be celebrating its 75th year on 26th January 2016. An honest attempt should be made by the Bar and the Bench to retain its glory as one of the finest Institution of Our Country.
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The author, an eminent senior Advocate, points out that while the goal of the Hon’ble Prime Minister to bring ‘Acche Din’ for the common man is laudatory, the same will not be fulfilled unless drastic reforms are incorporated in the Income-tax laws to bring about accountability for income-tax officials and to prevent the on-going rampant corruption. He also points that the long delay in getting justice from the Courts compels the taxpayers to grease the palms of the officials. He has also listed out a few core issues which according to him require immediate attention of the Hon’ble Prime Minister
Professionals and honest tax payers are having great expectations that this year’s Budget will be a vision document of the Honourable Finance Minister to have a simplified tax structure and better tax administration. The Federation has short listed some of the issues for the kind consideration of the Honourable Finance Minister which can be deliberated upon:
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The author, an eminent Senior Advocate and champion of judicial independence points out that what was in the realm of a dream till now, namely, the constitution of regional Supreme Court Benches, may soon become reality. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Mr. H.L. Dattu, has clearly indicated that he is in favour of such regional Benches. The Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Vision of “Digital India” may help lawyers at remote places to argue matters before Supreme Court Judges sitting in Delhi or before the regional Benches.
The Free Press Journal on 13-10-2014 carried a news item that the Honourable Chief Justice of India Mr. H. L. Dattu is in favour of setting up regional Benches of the Supreme Court. The Law Commission of India in its 229threport dated 5th day of August, 2009, after a detailed study strongly recommended having four regional Benches of the Supreme Court. One of the reasons stated by the report is quoted below:
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The author, an eminent Sr. Advocate and a champion of judicial integrity and independence, expresses grave apprehension that the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014, which seeks to replace the present Collegium system of appointment of Judges by a Committee, comprised partly of politicians, will severely hamper the independence of the Judiciary. He reminds us that the Government is the biggest litigant in the Country and warns that Judges may feel apprehensive of taking bold decisions against the Government in the fear that their chances of promotion to the higher Court would be jeopardized. The author also argues that the present Collegium system is working well and the few defects in it can be rectified. He offers practical suggestions on how this can be done.
One of the objects of the All India Federation of Tax Practitioners (the Federation) is “To strive and work for independence of Honourable Courts–“. The Tax Bar has always played a paramount role in warding off threats to the independence of the Judiciary. It was due to the labours of the Tax Bar that the independence of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) could be preserved [Ajay Gandhi v. B.Singh (2004) 265 ITR 451(SC), ITAT v.V.K.Agarwal (1999) 235 ITR 175 (SC)].
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The author, an eminent senior advocate, is a long-time crusader for reforms in the field of taxation. He believes that the change in regime is an opportune time to address the evils plaguing the tax administration. He has addressed an open letter to the Hon’ble Prime Minister in which he has systematically set out all the core issues that require to be addressed. He has also prepared a detailed discussion paper which sets out the solution to several issues. He urges all stake-holders to vigorously support the process of reforms and to make their voice heard
Shri. Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India,
We, the All India Federation of Tax Practitioners an Apex Body of tax practitioners of India, heartily congratulate you on being elected as the Prime Minister of India. Indeed it was a great revolution through democratic process.
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The author, an eminent senior advocate, expresses gratitude at the proactive role played by Courts in seeking to redress the inefficiencies of the department. However, while the strictures do shake the department out of its’ reverie for some time, the effect does not last long. The author suggests that a monitoring mechanism should be set up and the top brass of the department hauled up for non-compliance of the directives. The author has also identified the problem areas and suggested simple and cost-effective solutions to prevent the department from being on the wrong side of the law
As on 15-2-2014, the pendency of appeals and references before the Bombay High Court was more than 9,700, which includes 1,850 old references, 4,700 appeals admitted and pending for final hearing and 3,150 pending for admission. The Income-tax Appellate Tribunal Bar Association has made a representation to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court to constitute at least two tax Benches. We wish to express our gratitude to the Hon’ble Chief Justice for being kind enough to accept the request and constituted three tax Benches.
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