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New India Vision – Voice Of Professionals – Suggestions For Speedy Disposal Of Matters And Effective Administration Of Justice

Prime-Minister-Narendra-Modi

Dr. K. Shivaram, Sr. Advocate, has lauded Shri Narendra Modi, the Hon’ble Prime Minister, for unveiling the ‘New India Vision & Road Map’ for the Country. He has pointed out that in the ‘New India Vision’, the role of the judiciary cannot be left behind. The author has accordingly identified the issues in the judicial system which are stumbling blocks to progress and offered valuable suggestions on how to achieve speedy disposal of matters and administer justice to citizens in a more efficient manner

On the occasion of 72nd Independence day celebrations, Honourable Prime Minster of India Shri Narendra Modi addressed the occasion by putting forward a new India vision and road map to the Nation. It is the duty and obligation of the every citizen to support the vision of the Honourable Prime Minster.

As tax consultants and tax payers of our country, we desire that in the new India Vision, the role of the judiciary cannot be left behind. We therefore make an appeal to the Honourable Prime Minster of India to consider the suggestion of the Tax Bar. As per a paper report there will be an annual conference of the Chief Justices and Chief Minsters at Delhi on 1st September, 2019 where the Honourable Prime Minster of India and the Honourable Chief justice of India will be sharing their vision for the future of the judiciary. We are making an appeal to consider the following issues to aid in the speedy disposal of matters before various judicial and quasi-judicial forums and the better administration of justice.

1. Linking of Supreme Court with all High Courts and hearing of Special Leave Petitions via E-Benches of the Apex Court

The All India Federation of Tax Practitioners have made various representations from time to time suggesting that the Honourable Supreme Court may constitute e-benches in the premises of various High Courts. The hearing of Special leave Petitions before the Apex Court can be done by linking the High courts with the Supreme Court thereby affording the litigants the facility for arguing matters before the Supreme Court from the respective High Courts. The E-bench of the Supreme Court may take up the matters on a High Court-wise basis, e.g. one day could be for matters of the Bombay High Court, another day from the Madras High Court and so on, in rotation for each High Court on a regular basis. Initially, an option may be given to the parties to hear the matters through an e-Bench or a regular Bench and upon the success of the pilot project, the said system can be adopted with suitable changes after consulting with all the stake holders.

The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has started an e-Court at Mumbai through which the matters of Nagpur are heard by members sitting in Mumbai at the premises of the Mumbai Bench. The experience has been very satisfactory as per both, the tax payers as well as the Department. The e-Bench of Supreme Court could initially be started for the hearing of Special Leave Petitions (SLP) relating to direct and indirect tax matters. As per the concept, the litigants will be given an option to ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’. If in case the litigants desire not to be heard by the e-Bench, they may take the option to opt out. The E-courts may be set up in the premises of all the High Courts around the Country. This will save precious time and reduce cost of litigation. In the era of digitalisation, if this suggestion is implemented, tax payers will get access to justice without the strenuous effort of travelling to Delhi.

2. Increase in the age limit of retirement for Judges of the High Court from 62 to 65 years

The Parliament has constituted a committee headed by Smt. Jayanti Natarajan as Chairperson for considering the increase in age limit of Judges of High Courts from 62 to 65. The Committee observed as under:-

“Taking into account the justifications given by the secretary, Department of Justice, and the statement of objects and reasons appended to the bill, the committee supports the proposal for increase in the retirement age of judges of the High Courts from sixty two years to sixty five years and to be at par with the retirement age of the judges of the Supreme Court. The Committee also acknowledges that the Bill has been brought forth in pursuance of the recommendation made by the Committee in its earlier reports”

Though the committee has made the above recommendation on 7th December 2010, no steps have been taken for the implementation of the same till date. It is desirable that an appropriate decision may be taken at the earliest upon this issue. We are of the considered opinion that an increase in age limit will help in the increase of disposal of cases due to the greater availability of senior Judges due to which there could be a substantial reduction in pendency of cases.

3. Availing services of retired judges on a tenure basis of five years:

Article 224A of the Constitution of India enables the appointment of retired judges at sittings of High Courts as ad-hoc judges. As the pendency in the various high Courts is increasing, the services of ad-hoc judges may be availed for effective disposal of cases and efficient dispensation of justice. This step shall help in reducing the pendency of matters before various High Courts by increasing the bench strength.

4. Institutionalised process of elevation of Judicial Members of the ITAT to be appointed as Judges of High Court

Till now, very few Members of the ITAT as well as other Tribunals have been elevated to the High Courts. This process of selection should be institutionalised which will help in bringing transparency. It is also desired that all the High Courts have a permanent tax bench where a Judicial Member of impeccable integrity could be elevated from the ITAT. Members of the ITAT, due to their specialised knowledge and experience in ‘tax’ and ‘business accounts’, would be able to understand and decide the issues efficaciously. This may also act as an attraction for many young and bright lawyers to join the Tribunals as Members.

5. Special allocation of Funds in the Budget of every year should be made for the functioning of the Courts just as allocations are made for the defence of our Country

The Judiciary is one of the pillar of the democracy. There must be a separate allocation of funds for the judiciary in each budget. The procedure for disbursement of funds to the judiciary must be simplified. It is worth considering that Finance Ministry may make it a point to meet the concerned Officials of the judiciary and hold discussions about the funds required for modernisation and allocate the required funds to the Judiciary from time to time.

As per the newspaper report dated 3-8-2019 (Times of India, Saturday), it has been highlighted that more than half of the District Courts in the Country do not have functional washrooms and other amenities. In Mumbai, there is only one special court designated to deal with prosecution matters of Direct taxes as well as other economic offenses. There are more than 10,000 cases pending to be heard. There are matters pending for framing charges since more than 15 years. Unless some remedial measures are taken, entire system may collapse. The need of the hour is to have proper infrastructure for the Judiciary. This is possible only when proper allocation of funds for the judiciary is done.

6. Responsive system to be established in respective Ministries to discuss and take action on suggestions made by the Apex Court, High Courts and other Judicial authorities.

It has been observed that various High Courts make have several recommendations to the Government of India to look into certain matters and take appropriate measures. However, there is no mechanism to find out whether the issue is brought to the notice of Ministry concerned and what follow up action has been taken. It is therefore, advisable to put up such suggestions on the website of the High Courts or of the concerned Ministry where the progress on each direction can be tracked, scrutinised and appropriate action can be taken. This will bring transparency in the functioning of the Ministry and will also bring accountability.

7. Authority under Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 and The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002

The Adjudicating Authorities under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, and under The Prevention of Money laundering Act are currently situated at Delhi. Due to this reason, litigants have to travel to Delhi for adjudication of their matters, be it for a mere adjournment or for a complete hearing. This causes great hardship to the litigants apart from the already existing implications under the Acts sought to be disputed by them.

At present there is no Adjudicating Authority at Mumbai or in any other part of the country. It is desired that the Adjudicating Authority may be set up in across the country to provide effective redressal dispute resolution mechanism for litigants that are located away from the Capital Cities. Till the time such zones are established, the Adjudicating Authority may be allowed to have camps in different places and may be allowed to have touring benches where the number of appeals are substantial in number. This will help the litigants in saving precious time and cost of litigation will come down. It would further help the litigants to get speedy justice.

We hope Government will consider these proposals that shall, in our opinion, greatly streamline the disposal of cases. We are sure that the implementation of these suggestions shall go a long way in providing effective and efficacious remedy to the litigants across the country.

Dr. K Shivaram
Chairman, Editorial Board, AIFTP

Reproduced with permision from the AIFTP Journal, August 2019 :

11 comments on “New India Vision – Voice Of Professionals – Suggestions For Speedy Disposal Of Matters And Effective Administration Of Justice
  1. Vipul K. Choksi, President, Mahendra Sanghvi, Chairman Law and Representation Committee says:

    Representation of The Chamber of Tax Consultants, Mumbai

    Date: 29th August, 2019
    To,
    Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad
    The Hon’ble Minister of Law,
    Ministry of Law & Justice
    3rd Floor, ‘C’ Wing,
    Lok Nayak Bhawan,
    Khan Market,
    New Delhi – 110003
    Respected Sir,
    The Chamber of Tax Consultants (CTC), Mumbai, was established in 1926. CTC is
    one of the oldest voluntary non-profit making organizations in Mumbai – in its
    93rd year – formed with the object of educating and updating its members on Tax
    and other Laws. It has robust membership strength of about 4000 professionals,
    comprising of Advocates, Chartered Accountants and Tax Practitioners. The
    Chamber also has created a niche with the Government and other regulatory
    agencies. It is one of the leading institution for making effective representation
    with respect to Income Tax and Allied laws. It acts as a catalyst for bringing out
    necessary changes both from the perspective of Government as well as Tax
    payers.
    We make herewith the following suggestions which may kindly be considered
    towards increasing the efficacy of the Judiciary system, convenient to the
    Litigants and respondents:
    1. Setting up E-Benches at the Apex Court
    We recommend that the Supreme Court set up e-Benches which can be used for a
    speedier disposal of matters with minimal inconvenience to Litigants and
    Respondents.
    The Hon’ble Supreme Court may constitute e-Benches in the premises of various
    High Courts. The e-Bench of Supreme Court could initially be started for the
    hearing of Special Leave Petitions (SLP) relating to direct and indirect tax
    matters.
    Concept:
    The E-Benches may be set up in the premises of all the High Courts around the
    Country.
    The litigants will be given an option to ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’. If in case the litigants
    desire not to be heard by the e-Bench, they may take the option to opt out.
    The E-Bench of the Supreme Court may take up the matters on a High Court-wise
    basis; e. g. one day could be for matters of the Bombay High Court, another day
    from the Gujarat High Court and so on, in rotation for each High Court on a
    regular basis.
    Initially, an option may be given to the parties to hear the matters through an eBench or a regular Bench and upon the success of the pilot project; the said
    system can be adopted with suitable changes after consulting with all the stake
    holders.
    In a digitized world, if this suggestion is implemented, tax payers will get access
    to justice without the strenuous and costly effort of travelling to Delhi.
    Precedents:
    The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has started an e-Court at Mumbai through
    which the matters of Nagpur are heard by members sitting in Mumbai at the
    premises of the Mumbai Bench. The experience has been very satisfactory as per
    both, the tax payers as well as the Department.
    2. Setting up an Authority under Prohibition of Benami Property
    Transactions Act, 1988 and The Prevention of Money Laundering Act,
    2002
    The Adjudicating Authorities under the Prohibition of Benami Property
    Transactions Act, 1988, and under The Prevention of Money laundering Act,
    2002 are currently situated at Delhi. Due to this reason, litigants have to travel to
    Delhi for adjudication of all their matters. This causes hardship and
    administrative inconvenience to the litigants and delays the process of justice.
    At present there is no Adjudicating Authority at Mumbai or in any other part of
    the country. It is desired that the Benches of Adjudicating Authority may be set
    up in Capital Cities and thereafter if required across the country to provide an
    effective redressal dispute resolution mechanism for litigants that are located
    away from the Capital Cities.
    In the meantime, till the Benches are set up, alternatively, to make camps at
    various places and members can tour to these camps.
    In addition the following measures may be taken up:
    3. A mechanism by which covered cases can be speedily disposed off rather than
    following the normal course – to speeden the rendering of justice.
    4. A digital system of issue of notices and uploading of orders on an All India
    basis for all forums of judiciary – with suitable enabling provision by which these
    digital orders can receive sanctity. Currently, a downloaded order helps
    understand the status, but the Revenue does not act on these till a signed copy is
    received – a process that sometimes takes almost 3 months since upload.
    We hope your Honours will look into our suggestions and take suitable measures
    for which we shall be obliged.
    Thanking You,
    Sincerely yours,
    For THE CHAMBER OF TAX CONSULTANTS
    Sd/- Sd/- Sd/-
    VIPUL K. CHOKSI MAHENDRA SANGHVI APURVA SHAH
    PRESIDENT CHAIRMAN CO-CHAIRMAN
    LAW & REPRESENTATION COMMITTEE

  2. Mukul Gupta, Advocate, Ghaziabad says:

    Very Apt representation by AIFTP

  3. CA. Janak Vaghani, Mumbai says:

    Good Suggestions

  4. Dr. Ashok Saraf Sr. Advocate National President, AIFTP says:

    August 22, 2019
    To,
    Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi
    Prime Minister of India
    Prime Minister’s Office
    South Block, Raisina Hall
    New Delhi- 110011

    Sub.: New India vision – Suggestions for speedy disposal of matters and effective administration of justice.

    Respected Sir,

    All India Federation of Tax Practitioners (AIFTP) is an Apex body of Tax Practitioners. The main object of the AIFTP is to spread education in matters relating to tax laws, other laws and accountancy. Hon’ble Sir, we make representation from time to time on tax laws and administration. Sir, on the occasion of 72nd Independence Day celebrations, your honour has put forward a new India vision and road map to the Nation. It is the duty and obligation of the every citizen to support the vision of your honour. We desire that in the new India Vision, the role of the judiciary cannot be left behind. As per the newspaper reports, your honour will be addressing the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Ministers on 1-9-2019. We are making an appeal to your honour to consider the following issues to aid in the

    speedy disposal of the tax matters before various judicial and quasi-judicial forums and the better administration of justice.

    1. Linking of Supreme Court with all High Courts and hearing of Special Leave Petitions via e-Benches of the Apex Court

    The All India Federation of Tax Practitioners made various representations from time to time suggesting that the Hon’ble Supreme Court may constitute e-benches in the premises of various High Courts. The hearing of Special Leave Petitions before the Apex Court can be done by linking the High Courts with the Supreme Court and thereby affording the litigants the facility for arguing matters before the Supreme Court from the respective High Courts. The e-bench of the Supreme Court may take up the matters on a High Court-wise basis, e.g. one day could be for matters of the Bombay High Court, another day for the Madras High Court and so on, in rotation for each High Court on a regular basis. Initially, an option may be given to the parties to hear the matters through an e-Bench or a regular Bench and upon the success of the pilot project, the said system can be adopted with suitable changes after consulting with all the stake holders.

    The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has started an e-Court at Mumbai through which the matters of Nagpur are heard by members sitting in Mumbai at the

    premises of the Mumbai Bench. The experience has been very satisfactory both, as per the tax payers as well as the Department. The e-Bench of Supreme Court could initially be started for the hearing of Special Leave Petitions (SLP) relating to direct and indirect tax matters. As per the concept, the litigants can be given an option to ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’. In case, the litigants desire not to be heard by the e-Bench, they may take the option to opt out. The e-courts may be set up in the premises of all the High Courts around the Country. This will save precious time and reduce cost of litigation. In the era of digitalisation, if this suggestion is implemented, tax payers will get access to justice without the strenuous effort of travelling to Delhi.

    2. Increase in the age limit of retirement for Judges of the High Court from 62 to 65 years

    The Parliament constituted a committee headed by Smt. Jayanti Natarajan as Chairperson for considering the increase in age limit of Judges of High Courts from 62 to 65. The Committee observed as under:-

    “Taking into account the justifications given by the secretary, Department of Justice, and the statement of objects and reasons appended to the bill, the committee supports the proposal for

    increase in the retirement age of judges of the High Courts from sixty two years to sixty five years and to be at par with the retirement age of the judges of the Supreme Court. The Committee also acknowledges that the Bill has been brought forth in pursuance of the recommendation made by the Committee in its earlier reports”

    Though the committee made the above recommendation on 7th December 2010, no steps have been taken for the implementation of the same till date. It is desirable that an appropriate decision may be taken at the earliest upon this issue. We are of the considered opinion that an increase in age limit will help to increase disposal of cases due to the greater availability of senior Judges which could result in substantial reduction in pendency of cases.

    3. Availing of services of retired judges on a tenure basis of five years:

    Article 224A of the Constitution of India enables the appointment of retired judges of High Courts as ad-hoc judges. As the pendency in the various high Courts is increasing, the services of ad-hoc judges may be availed for effective disposal of cases and efficient dispensation of justice. This step shall help in reducing the pendency of matters before various High Courts by increasing the bench strength.

    4. Institutionalised process of elevation of Judicial Members of the ITAT as Judges of High Courts

    Till now, very few Members of the ITAT as well as other Tribunals have been elevated to the High Courts. This process of selection should be institutionalised which will help in bringing transparency. It is also desired that all the High Courts have a permanent tax bench where a Judicial Member of impeccable integrity could be elevated from the ITAT. Members of the ITAT, due to their specialised knowledge and experience in ‘tax’ and ‘business accounts’, would be able to understand and decide the issues efficaciously. This may also act as an attraction for many young and bright lawyers to join the Tribunals as Members.

    5. Special allocation of Funds in the Budget of every year should be made for the functioning of the Courts just as allocations are made for the defence of our Country

    The Judiciary is one of the pillars of democracy. There must be a separate allocation of funds for the judiciary in each budget. The procedure for disbursement of funds to the judiciary must be simplified. It is worth considering that Finance Ministry may make it a point to meet the concerned Officials of the judiciary and

    hold discussions about the funds required for modernisation and allocate the required funds to the Judiciary from time to time.

    As per the newspaper report dated 3-8-2019 (Times of India, Saturday), it affirms that more than half of the District Courts in the Country do not have functional washrooms and other amenities. In Mumbai, there is only one special court designated to deal with prosecution matters of Direct taxes as well as other economic offenses. There are more than 10,000 cases pending to be heard. There are matters pending for framing charges since more than 15 years. Unless some remedial measures are taken, entire system may collapse. The need of the hour is to have proper infrastructure for the Judiciary. This is possible only when proper allocation of funds is made for the judiciary.

    6. Responsive system to be established in respective Ministries to discuss and take action on suggestions made by the Apex Court, High Courts and other Judicial authorities.

    It has been observed that various High Courts have made several recommendations to the Government of India to look into certain matters and take appropriate measures. However, there is no mechanism to find out whether the issue is brought to the notice of Ministry concerned and what follow up action has

    been taken. It is therefore, advisable to put up such suggestions on the website of the High Courts or of the concerned Ministry where the progress on each direction can be tracked, scrutinised and appropriate action can be taken. This will bring transparency in the functioning of the Ministry and will also bring accountability.

    7. Authority under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988 and The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002

    The Adjudicating Authorities under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, and Prevention of Money laundering Act, 2002 are currently situated at Delhi. Due to this, litigants have to travel to Delhi for adjudication of their matters, be it for a mere adjournment or for a complete hearing. This causes great hardship to the litigants apart from the already existing implications under the statues.

    At present there is no Adjudicating Authority in any part of the Country. It is desirable that the Adjudicating Authority is set up in across the Country to provide effective dispute redressal mechanism for litigants located away from the Capital City. Till the time such zones are established, the Adjudicating Authority may be allowed to have camps in different places and may be allowed to have touring

    benches where the numbers of appeals are substantial in number. This will help the litigants in saving precious time and cost of litigation will come down. It would further help the litigants to get speedy justice.

    Sir, the aforesaid suggestions may kindly be examined as we are sure that the implementation of these suggestions shall go a long way in providing effective and efficacious remedy to the litigants across the country.

    With kind regards,
    Yours sincerely,
    For All India Federation of Tax Practitioners

    Dr. Ashok Saraf
    National President

    Cc.:
    1. Hon’ble Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Law Minister of India
    2. Hon’ble Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister of India

  5. RAJENDRA, Ex Member ITAT,Mumbai. says:

    Nice suggestions,Dr. K Shivaram.

    I feel clients should be given option of e-hearing at every stage of appellate proceedings by all the Tribunals / authorities.

    Secondly,filing of hard copies during appellate proceedings should be discontinued with immediate effect.We can save lakhs of tress every year by not using papers. Now,a days we have everything on computers/laptops.We are uploading and downloading the soft copies.Except for the Trial courts the hard copies should be banned for the initial period.Later on,some policy can be framed about the Trial Courts’ proceedings and proceedings before the Hon’ble High Courts and the Apex Court.

    Funny thing is that wherever soft copies are to be submitted,client / assessee /officer is invariably directed to file a hard copy also.

    Record from government agencies would show much expenditure is incurred in purchasing papers and ink. Railways has done away with printing and pasting of passengers list who reserve their seats.Not only it has saved money but also the tress.

    Similar exercise can be done by the other departments -especially the appellate authorities and Hon’ble Courts.

    वृक्षो रक्षति रक्षितः

  6. Jayendra Parekh CA Mumbai says:

    I wish the govt accepts the suggestions made by the learned sr Advocate . Adjudicating authority for Benami and Money lundering desired that they should hear the matters at Mumbai . It will help the assesses as well as Chartered Accountants

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