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The views expressed herein are personal to the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the Bar Association.

Archive for the ‘legislation’ Category

judicary_bachao

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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NAMO_Tax2

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 advocate, who is at the forefront of the crusade to resolve the core problems faced by the Tribunal, sees a ray of hope that the attitude of utter indifference shown so far by the Government towards the welfare of the Tribunal will change after the appointment of Shri. Kapil Sibal as the Law Minister. The author makes a fervent request to the Hon’ble Law Minster that he should spare time to immediately address those problems

 

Those who practice before the Income –tax Appellate Tribunal (the “ITAT”), are well aware that in the year 1996, the then Law Secretary issued a notification stating that the Ministry of Law has the power to transfer the Hon’ble Members of the ITAT. The said notification was challenged by the ITAT Bar Association, Mumbai, and the then President of the ITAT was made respondent to support the petition. The Hon’ble Bombay High Court stayed the operation of the said notification (Income-tax Appellate Tribunal Bar Association of India v. UOI, W.P. NO. 2350 of 1996 dt. 6-3-1997) (Income-tax Review, April 1997, P. 1 to 3).

 

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The author, an eminent advocate, is unable to hide his frustration at the continued indifference of the Government towards the welfare of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. Though three long years have passed and three Law Ministers have come and gone, nobody has bothered to address the core problems being faced by the Mother Tribunal. The author again lists out the core issues and urges the Government to shed its apathy, get its act together and act speedily to save this majestic judicial Institution from decay

 

The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal, which has completed 72 years of existence, is considered as one of the finest institutions of our Country. The former President Shri Vimal Gandhi retired on 3-6-2010, however, till date, no permanent President is appointed, Senior-Vice President / Vice-President is acting as Officiating President. It is for the first time that for more than two years and ten months Vice-President has been functioning as an Officiating President. By not appointing the President, Senior Vice President and Vice Presidents, the Government is sending a wrong message that, we have no members who deserve to be appointed to lead the institution. If that is so, how the citizens will have confidence in the Institution.

 

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The appointment of Dr. Parthasarthy Shome as advisor to the Finance Minister augers well for tax payers in the Country because Dr. Shome is a man of wisdom and experience and is committed to creating a tax-payer friendly administration and simplified law and procedure, says the author. The author urges all tax payers & tax professionals to support Dr. Shome in his endeavor and starts off by listing 13 critical issues that need Dr. Shome’s immediate attention

 

Hon’ble Finance Minster speaking at the Delhi Economics Conclave on 14/12/2012 stated that “We have made it clear that our objective is to have clarity in tax laws, a stable tax regime, a non-adversarial tax administration, a fair mechanism for dispute resolution, and an independent judiciary.” I am of the opinion that by appointing Dr. Parthasrthy Shome as advisor to Hon’ble Finance Minister will achieve the goal of the Hon’ble Finance Minister. Dr. Parthasarthy Shome is a man of action, knowledge, integrity and has rich experience to understand the business laws of world.

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The debate over whether the Supreme Court’s verdict in Vodafone International is right or wrong will never cease. While some hail the verdict as “revolutionary“, others can’t conceal their contempt for it for permitting India to become a “banana republic” where foreigners can “loot its resources” without even paying due taxes. We are now at a critical juncture where the Govt is debating whether the retro amendments should be rolled back or not.

 

This issue is important now because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that a decision would be taken soon on whether the retrospective amendments seeking to supersede the Vodafone verdict would be implemented or not.

 

Joining the chorus of respected voices who consider the Vodafone verdict to be wrong are two respected voices. That of Ex Chief Justice of India J. S. Verma and Ex Additional Solicitor General Bishwajit Bhattacharyya.

 

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The author argues that Vodafone’s offer to settle the controversy on payment of tax and waiver of interest & penalty is a god-sent opportunity for the Government to salvage the situation. It will save the Government the ignominy of the retrospective amendments being struck down in Court and also boost its image in the International community. If handled properly, even Manmohan Singh can be made to look like a real Statesman with vision and courage, adds the author

 

Vodafone’s Chairman Analjit Singh went on record yesterday that Vodafone was open to settle with the Government pursuant to which it would pay tax of Rs. 8,000 crores if the Government waived the levy of interest and penalty.

 

Here’s why the deal makes immense sense and why Finance Minister P. Chidamabaram should immediately grab it.

 

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The author suggests to the Prime Minister, who is now also in charge of the Finance Ministry, that if the Government is serious about reforming taxation law, it should listen to professionals who practice the subject day-in and day-out. Professionals know where the problem areas are and why citizens are loath to comply with the law. The author lists out a few burning issues that are crying out for reform. If these are addressed, the taxpayers confidence in the administration will be restored and there will be a marked improvement in compliance with the law, and collection of taxes, promises the author

 

Our respected hon’ble Prime minster is holding the charge of Ministry of Finance, hence I have made an attempt to put forward the views of tax professionals for his consideration. I am of the opinion that it is the professional organizations and professionals, who  make the suggestions  objectively, in the interest of nation without  any fear, favour or vested interest, therefore if  an opportunity is given, they will make a presentation to the Hon’ble Finance Minster and  his team, if it is considered  objectively, it will benefit the nation. Some of the thoughts which can be debated and considered are:

 

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The author argues that it is hypocritical that advocates, who represent the elite of society & who are supposed to be the defenders of legal values, should openly flout the law by defying the verdicts of the Supreme Court. Such conduct is symptomatic of the utter lawlessness that our Society has degenerated into in all walks of life rues the author and claims that stern action ought to be taken against the perpetrators for contempt of court

 

Pursuant to a resolution of the Bar Council of India, advocates across the Country are on a strike yesterday and today (11th & 12th July 2012). The result is that 1.25 lakh lawyers across the Country have abstained from work and Courts have come to a grinding halt.

 

Let’s understand what the strike is all about and to what extent it is permitted by the law.

 

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The author suggests that now that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also the Finance Minister, he should live up to the promise he made to Vodafone that the Supreme Court’s verdict will be honoured and scrap the retrospective amendments. This, says the author, will boost his stature as the Country’s leader and also improve sentiment amongst the taxpayer and investor community and lead to an inflow of billions of dollars into the Indian economy

 

Respected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ji, welcome back to the Finance Ministry. You may recollect, Sir, that when you first became the Finance Minister in 1991, you were regarded as the “poster boy” for Indian reforms because you ushered in the “revolutionary” reforms that transformed India into the powerhouse that it is today. On that back of that success, you rode the wave of popularity and rightly became the Prime Minister. Sadly, since then, however, much of that sheen has rubbed off and you have been under fire in the recent past for so-called indecisiveness, silence on important policy matters and generally for being “remote controlled”. We know, Sir, that the biggest embarrassment must have been when some political leaders contemptuously suggested that you be “elevated” to the post of President. The less said about that, the better.

 

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