Representations of the Tax Bar fall on deaf ears
As far back as in May 2015, the Tax Bar sounded the alarm that the lethargy of the Government with regards to the appointment of Vice-Presidents of the ITAT is adversely affecting the cause of justice (see Non-Appointment Of ITAT Vice-Presidents Is Disturbing And Will Hinder Motive Of ‘Sulabh Nyay’ (Easy Justice)).
It was pointed out that the Hon’ble President of the ITAT, who is administrative head of the institution, would be unable to function effectively without the administrative support from the Vice-Presidents of respective Zones. It was also pointed out that the Federation had sent multiple representations to three different Law Ministers during their respective tenures. However no action has been taken so far.
Public Interest Litigation demands answers from the Government for its lethargy
The PTI has reported that one Mr. Akshay Pundir has filed a PIL in which he has raised serious issues with regard to the inaction by the Government on the important issues of appointment of the President and the Vice Presidents of the ITAT.
The PIL has alleged that “ad hocism has become order of the day as many of the posts of senior vice presidents and vice presidents have not been filled up“.
It is also stated that “the timely appointment of Presidents, Vice-Presidents and members will go a long way in tackling the burgeoning tax litigations in the country.”
“The government is not taking steps to appoint the president, nor is it clearing the names of vice presidents. Therefore a chaos will arise in business circles if no person would be appointed as President before the vacancy arises,” the petition added.
It was further pointed out that “the incumbent President is going to retire on Feburary 17, 2017. Thereafter there is nobody in the vision of government for this post except two vice presidents working in Delhi and Hyderabad. The administrative work is also suffering because members have to wait for small things as the final decisions of vice presidents would not reach on time which also indirectly affects the litigants“.
Supreme Court takes notice of issue
A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to the Central Government and sought its response in four weeks.
Will the Government act?
Now, the million dollar question is whether the Government will act in time and make the necessary appointments or it will face the embarrassment of being rapped on the knuckles again by the Supreme Court?