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Dear ITAT Admin, Wake Up & Shake Off Your Apathy

Dr. K. Shivaram, Senior Advocate, is distraught at the blatant disregard by the Government towards the welfare of the ITAT. He has revealed shocking facts about how the Govt has acted in defiance to the directions of the High Court and the CAT and not bothered to appoint core staff to the ITAT for the past 15 years. The less said about the non-appointment of the Hon’ble President and Vice-Presidents, the better, he says

A wake – up call for the ITAT administration – Challenges due to acute shortage of Deputy Registrars, Assistant Registrars and other staff

The ITAT was not only the first Tribunal to be set up in this country but it has, over the years, proved itself true to its object of providing fair and speedy justice in the field of direct tax litigation. It is therefore a cause of concern that recently, issues that expose the underlying administrative apathy have come to light that are affecting the smooth and efficient functioning of the Tribunal. The orders of the ITAT have great financial implications on both the Government as well as common man and hence its smooth functioning is essential for the purposes of both speedy justice and revenue collection.

It is also alarming to note that there are 30 vacant posts of Assistant Registrars as on to day. Even among the vacant posts, some have been vacant since as long as i.e. from the year 2003-2004. Various proposals and reminders for direct recruitment for Assistant Registrars had been sent to the Ministry of Law & Justice from time to time. However, there has been no action upon the same and there have been no direct recruitments to the post of Assistant Registrars since the year 2001.

There are seven sanctioned posts of the Deputy registrars in the ITAT and all the said posts have been vacant for an inordinate period of time. It has also been noticed that the DPC for the post of Deputy Registrars of the ITAT have not been convened for a period exceeding more than 15 years. The last DPC for the post of Deputy Registrars conducted was in 2003. No subsequent DPC has been conducted.

This alarming state of events is further exacerbated by the fact that the Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunal, Allahabad Bench vide order No. 372/2012 dt 27-03-2012 had directed the Union of India through the Secretary, Department of Legal affairs, Ministry of law and Justice as well as the President of the ITAT to complete the process of filling up the post of Deputy Registrars as well as of the registrars within a period of four months from 30/03/2012 which was the date of receipt of the certified copy of the order.

Even though the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in Manoj Kashyap & Ors v. UOI (W.P.(C) 13/2015 & W.P.(C) 2620/2015 dt. 30.05.2016) had directed that as promotions had not taken place in accordance with law since 2003, regular DPC was to be convened within a period of six months from the date of receipt of a copy of the said order. However, considering that no DPC for appointment of Deputy Registrars has been conducted, the said direction of the Delhi High Court has not been followed.

It is also noteworthy that the Government of India has provided instructions to hold DPC on annual basis following the model calendar (OM No. 22011/9/98-Estt(D) dated 08-09-1998) read with OM No. 22011/4/2013-Estt(D) dt. 28.01.2015). The Government of India has also subsequently issued further instructions by OM No. 2201/1/2011-Estt(D) dated 27/10/2016 for timely and advance action in convening of the DPC meeting in terms of the model calendar.

It is a cause of corner that despite the instructions of the Central Government, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court and the Central Administrative Tribunal, there has been no DPC conducted. The inaction of the concerned officials is a highly contemptuous act and shows that our bureaucracy is unwilling to take action unless the institution comes to a grinding halt.

As of today the existing Assistant Registrars are reeling under the burden of an excess workload that is the legacy of having 30 vacancies for the post of Assistant Registrars and no Deputy Registrars.

The lack of promotions also directly affects the morale of the staff and affects their functioning. Apathy of such magnitude is not expected in the functioning of a Tribunal of national importance that decides matters directly related to the coffers of the government.

We have been given to understand that there are 72 vacancies against a sanctioned strength of 188 and for MTS (Multi-Tasking Non-technical) staff. There are 104 vacancies as against a sanctioned strength of MTS of 298.

Given the shortage of staff, credit must be given to the existing staff that has ensured that the functioning of the ITAT remains smooth and the lack of manpower is not starkly visible.

However, it would be harmful for both the efficient functioning of the ITAT as well as the morale of the staff if the said appointments are not made at the earliest and the extra burden on the existing staff is not rationalized.

Viewed in the same lens as the delay in filling up the vacancies for the Post of President of ITAT, posts of the Vice-Presidents for the ITAT, Honourable Members of the ITAT and the Members of the Authority for advance ruling, it reflects upon a reactionary bureaucracy as opposed to a proactive one.

It is desired that professional bodies and various Bar Associations take efforts to bring the said inefficiencies to the notice of the present-day government. The present government has projected itself as positive and proactive in the field of administration.

It is hoped that the Government shall undo the legacy of apathy inherited by it from the past administrations and ushers in a new era of efficiency in the functioning of the ITAT.

Dr. K. Shivaram
Editor-in-Chief, AIFTP Journal

Reproduced with permission from the AIFTP Journal, June 2018
2 comments on “Dear ITAT Admin, Wake Up & Shake Off Your Apathy
  1. Ganesh Purohit says:

    Date: June 26, 2018
    To,
    Hon’ble Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad
    Hon’ble Minister for Law & Justice,
    Ministry of Law & Justice,
    Government of India,

    Respected Sir,

    Sub: Administration of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (‘ITAT’) – Departmental Promotion Committee ‘DPC’ for post of Deputy and Assistant Registrars-DPC is not held for more than 15 years – 30 vacant posts of Assistant Registrar

    All India Federation of Tax Practitioners (‘AIFTP’) is a pan India body of professionals that have dedicated themselves to the cause of spreading education in matters related to Tax, allied laws and accountancy. The AIFTP also prides itself on being a vehicle for representing the interest of the tax professionals, tax payers and other stake holders in the field of tax and strives to provide and effective forum for discussion and debate of matters pertaining to tax law. Many of our members practice before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (‘ITAT’) and have communicated various administration issues concerning ITAT. As you are aware, ITAT is not only the first Tribunal to be set up in this country but it is also over the years proved itself to be true to its object of providing fair and speedy justice in the field of direct tax litigation. The orders of the ITAT have a great financial implications on both the Government as well as common man and hence its smooth functioning is essential for the purposes of both speedy justice and revenue collection. It is therefore a cause of concern that recently, issues that are affecting the smooth and efficient functioning of the Tribunal have come to the notice of the professionals.

    There are seven sanctioned posts of the Deputy registrar in the ITAT and all the said posts have been vacant for an inordinate period of time. It has also been noticed that the Departmental Promotion Committee (‘DPC’) for the post of Deputy Registrar of the ITAT have not been convened for a period extending from more than the last 15 years. The last DPC for the post of Deputy Registrar conducted was in 2003. No subsequent DPC has been conducted. This alarming state of events is further exacerbated by the fact that the Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunal, Allahabad and Jodhpur Bench vide order dated 27-03-2012 had directed the Union of India (through the Secretary, Department of Legal affairs, Ministry of law and Justice) as well as the President of the ITAT to complete the process of filling up the post of Deputy Registrar as well as of the registrar within a period of four months from 30/03/2012. Copy of the order dt. 27-03-2012 annexed as “Annexure – A”

    It is noteworthy that Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in W.P.(C) 13/2015 & W.P.(C) 2620/2015 vide order dated 30.05.2016 directed that as promotions had not taken place in accordance with law since 2003, regular DPC was to be convened within a period of six months from the date of receipt of the said order. However, considering that no DPC for appointment of Deputy Registrar has been conducted, the said direction of the Delhi High Court has not been followed. This is also a gross contempt of court. Copy of the order dt. 30-05-2016 annexed as “Annexure – B”

    We understand that the Government of India has provided instructions to hold DPC on annual basis following the model calendar (OM No. 22011/9/98-Estt(D) dated 08-09-1998) read with OM No. 22011/4/2013-Estt(D) dt. 28.01.2015). It seems that the Government of India has also subsequently issued further instructions by OM No. 2201/1/2011-Estt(D) dated 27/10/2016 for timely and advance action in convening of the DPC meeting in terms of the model calendar.

    It is also alarming to note that there are 30 vacant posts of Assistant Registrar as on 6-03-2018. We have been given to understand that there are 72 vacancies for clerical staff as against a sanctioned strength of 188. Further for Multi-tasking non-technical staff (MTS) there are 104 vacancies as against a sanctioned strength of MTS of 298.

    Even among the vacant posts, some have been vacant since as long as the years 2003-2004. Various proposals and reminders for direct recruitment for Assistant Registrars had been send to the Ministry of Law & Justice. However, there has been no action upon the same and there have been no direct recruitments to the post of Assistant Registrar since the year 2001.

    Given the shortage of staff, credit must be given to the existing staff that has ensured that the functioning of the ITAT remains smooth and the lack of manpower is not starkly visible. However, it would be harmful for both the efficient functioning of the ITAT as well as the morale of the staff if the said appointments are not made at the earliest and the extra burden on the existing staff is not rationalized.

    If promotions are not granted for considerable time the morale of the staff will affect the smooth functioning of the Institution.

    Hence our humbly request that:-

    1. The vacant posts of Deputy Registrar as well as Assistant Registrar may be filled as ordered by the Central Administrative Tribunal in accordance with the rules.
    2. Regular DPC may be convened in accordance with the order of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court dt.30-05-2016.
    3. The DPC may be conducted at regular intervals in accordance with the model calendar as per the instructions of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training).

    We trust that the issues purported to be brought to your notice as well as the suggestions made shall be examined and deliberated so that the issues are resolved at the earliest and any potential hardships that may be faced by the tax payers can be averted.

    We would be eager to help and brainstorm in case your goodself needs any more clarification or have to work on new methods to address the issue.

    Yours truly,
    For All India Federation of Tax Practitioners

    Ganesh Purohit
    National President

    Enclosed: As above

    C.C. : 1) Hon’ble Mr. Suresh Chandra
    Union Law Secretary

    2) Hon’ble Mr. G. D. Agarwal
    President, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.

  2. PC yadav says:

    We need to file another writ, so that the age limit of the present president may also be increased as the apex court has done in CAT matters

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