Contribution Of The ITAT Hyderabad Bench To The Cause Of Justice
Hon’ble Shri. D. Manmohan, Vice-President (Mumbai Zone)
The learned Jurist reminisces about the stellar contribution that the Hyderabad Bench of the Tribunal has made to the cause of justice. Several of its Members have been elevated to higher echelons of the Judiciary; it has attracted the crème de la crème of the profession and it has delivered several landmark judgements. This is made possible due to the stellar quality of the people behind the Bench says the learned Judge
President, AP Tax Bar Association and its office bearers as well as distinguished invitees from the bar, Senior Departmental Representatives and distinguished special invitees and colleague brothers on the dais,
The Income tax Appellate Tribunal was established on 25.1.1941. Originally, it had only three benches, whereas it has now 63 benches at 27 cities. In 1995 the pendency all over of India crossed three lakhs, and because of sanctioning of new benches by the Government, we were able to stick to our logo i.e. Sulabh Nyay and Satwar Nyay’. Now the pendency is hovering about 80,000.
Appellate Tribunal being the second appellate authority and final fact finding authority, apart from the fact that it functioned as an independent body under the control of Ministry of Law and Justice, members of the bar always looked forward to seek justice form the Tribunal, which in turn resulted in greater inflow of more and more appeals
It is a momentous occasion for the ITAT Hyderabad Benches, since we were ultimately successful in shifting to our own premises after 67 years of existence at Hyderabad. On this occasion, I would like to confine myself to the brief history of ITAT Hyderabad Benches. As all of you are aware, the first bench of the ITAT was set up in Hyderabad on 1.11.1956, upon formation of the State of Andhra Pradesh in that year. Members of the bar told me that Shri M.J. Swamy, known as doyen of tax bar, was instrumental for the setting up of the first bench at Hyderabad. Shri V.P. Choudhury and Shri G.J. Bhavnani worked as the first Accountant Member and Judicial Member respectively at Hyderabad. The Second Bench of the Tribunal started functioning at Hyderabad from 29.1.1973.
From 1956, the Tribunal was operating from rented premises initially at Himayatnagar and thereafter, in 1978, it was shifted to Shapoor House Adarshnagar. Andhra Pradesh was known as a rice bowl of India and in the good olden days, all the cases used to be selected for scrutiny and invariably huge additions used to be made by the Assessing Officers. Appellate Tribunal being the second appellate authority and final fact finding authority, apart from the fact that it functioned as an independent body under the control of Ministry of Law and Justice, members of the bar always looked forward to seek justice form the Tribunal, which in turn resulted in greater inflow of more and more appeals. In the early 1990s, the pendency crossed 18,000. However, part of the jurisdiction of Hyderabad Benches was shifted with the formation of a separate bench at Visakhapatnam, which started functioned in the year 2000. Despite that two benches are functioning at Hyderabad as on date, and it was also made a zonal headquarters. So far, 33 Accountant Members and 30 Judicial Members including the present incumbents were posted at Hyderabad Benches.
Hyderabad proved to be a lucky station for every one associated with it, whether on regularly posting or even on tour for few weeks. Shri S. Ranganathan, who worked as Judicial Member of ITAT at Hyderabad, become as judge of High Court of Delhi, and finally retired as Judge of the Supreme Court. So also, Shri S. Ananda Reddy, Judicial Member at Hyderabad Benches of the Tribunal, became a Judge of the A.P. High Court and ultimately became Lok Ayukta of Andhra Pradesh. Shri Ch. G. Krishna Murthy, who worked as Member at Hyderabad, in the later part of his career was elevated as President of ITAT, and the government, in recognition of his services, allowed him to continue for more than one year beyond the date of his superannuation, and thereafter, he was chosen as a Member of Law Commission by the Government of India. Shri T.V. Rajagopala Rao, who had served for a long time at Hyderabad as Judicial Member, was elevated as president of ITAT. He was a judicial officer of highest degree of integrity and fought for judicial independence. Shri Tanikachalam, who worked at Hyderabad as Judicial Member was elevated as Judge of High Court of Madras and ultimately retired as Chief Justice. Shri T.N.C. Rangarajan, was elevated as a Judge of Chennai High Court and ultimately retired from that position from A.P. High Court. Shri M. Ramakrishna who joined the Tribunal in the year 1994 batch, was posted at Hyderabad as Judicial Member, later on, he became Up Lokayukta.
The Hyderabad Benches of the Tribunal rendered many a path breaking judgments, attracting eminent jurists from across the country, like Shri Nani Phalkiwala and Shri S.E. Dastur from Mumbai, Shri Ganesan from Delhi, Shri Khaji from Ahmedabad, and Shri Bijoriya from Calcutta
The Hyderabad Benches of the Tribunal rendered many a path breaking judgments, attracting eminent jurists from across the country, like Shri Nani Phalkiwala and Shri S.E. Dastur from Mumbai, Shri Ganesan from Delhi, Shri Khaji from Ahmedabad, and Shri Bijoriya from Calcutta. Many members of the bar who appeared before the ITAT Hyderabad Benches had opportunity to serve the country in various capacities as Accountant Members or Judicial Members, and few people have also been elevated to the High Court. Shri Y.V. Anjaneyulu and Shri Desarath Ram Reddy, founder members of AP Tax Bar Association, were elevated as judges of AP High Court. Shri T. Ananta Babu, another founder Member of ITAT Bar Association at Hyderabad was appointed as Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh High Court. Late Shri M.J. Swamy, under whose guidance I started my career as advocate, was a doyen of AP Tax Bar and a Founder Member. He practiced before the Tribunal for over four decades and contributed to many path breaking decisions.
Hyderabad Benches was lucky enough to have many great judicial officers like Shri P.V.B. Rao, Shri T.Venkatappa, Shri A. Venku Reddy, Shri Rajaratnam, Shri George Cheriyan, and so on. In fact, Hyderabad Benches was always lucky to have best Members and it is difficult to mention the names of each one of them. This is so far as history of Hyderabad Benches is concerned.
It is better late than never that the ITAT is moving into premises of its own at Hyderabad, as the CPWD finally allotted to the ITAT the fifth floor portion of the CGO Towers in Kavadiguda. Apart from the painstaking effort of Shri Chandra Poojari, Smt. Asha Vijayaraghavan and Shri Saktijit Dey have also cooperated by putting in their best efforts to see to it that the Hyderabad Benches is equipped with best of the infrastructure and court rooms. Each of the staff members of the ITAT Hyderabad Benches and those who have been specifically called in to assist the local staff members have also taken equal participation in seeing to it that the shifting process is done in record time, so that the benches can function effectively without any further delay.
As Vice President of ITAT, I recognize the sincere efforts of the Army of engineers of the CPWD who have cooperated with us and have contributed their might in shaping the fifth floor portion of this building to suit to our requirement, so that it can be made ready for occupation in record time. The officers of the income-tax department have played an equally important role in this matter. In particular, Shri P.V. Rao, Commissioner of Income-tax was instrumental in liaisoning with the State Government officers, so that the CPWD could get the required clearances, to enable them, in turn, to allot the space in the new building to the concerned allottee-offices without any loss of time.
Last but not the least, let me emphasise that I was stationed at Mumbai and I could only supervise and guide the local members, but all the credit goes to the local members and staff of ITAT Hyderabad Benches, who have worked hard under the stewardship of the Senior Member, Shri Chandra Poojari, and who deserve all the credit for making these premises ready for occupation by this date. I request all of you to give good applause to him, brother members and all the staff members.