The Supreme Court has passed severe strictures on the inaction of the Government in appointing the President and Vice-Presidents of the ITAT
It may be recalled that one Mr. Akshay Pundir has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court alleging that the deep slumber in which the Government is with regard to the appointment of the President and the Vice-Presidents of the ITAT is causing enormous hardship to the litigants.
Though the Supreme Court graciously gave the government enough time to get its act in order, there has been no progress in the matter.
A distinguished Bench comprising of Hon’ble Chief Justice J. S. Khehar, Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul lost its cool when Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh again sought an adjournment of three months to look into the matter.
“The very fact that you (Centre) are seeking three months shows that you are not serious about the issue. This tribunal brings you the money and you don’t want it. If the selection has been made, why don’t you finalise the issue within a month. How much time will you take? Reject all names if they are useless, but do something,” the Bench fumed.
However, the Government was not fazed by the criticism. Instead, the learned ASG told the court that certain names were finalised but some of them were dropped following enquiry and that created trouble for the government.
This further irked the Court:
“You conduct as many screenings as you want but do it fast. Firstly, you don’t act. And when we ask you to act, you say that courts are interfering in your work. Being cautious doesn’t mean you will take three months to finalise,” the bench said.
At this stage, the learned Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi, had to interne and assure the Court that the Government would do the needful.
Accordingly, on the assurance of the learned Attorney General, the Hon’ble Court reluctantly gave the Government four weeks’ time to finalise the appointment of the President and Vice-Presidents of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.
It is hoped that the Government will have the good sense to get its act in order and not have to face the embarrassment of receiving further strictures from the Supreme Court.