The author, who is usually very critical of the Government for its indifferent attitude to the Judiciary, is full of praise this time at the grant of Rs. 5,000 crores in the Budget for modernization of the justice delivery system. He urges that much more has to be done and makes the radical suggestion that visionaries like Sam Pitroda and Nandan Nilekani should be nominated to prepare a road map to reform the judicial process.
The Hon’ble Finance Minister pronounced: “The union Budget cannot be a mere statement of Government accounts, it has to reflect the Government’s vision and signal the policies in future”. In our editorial of AIFTP Journal for the month of March, 2008, we have made an appeal to Government to allocate a specific amount to modernisation of the institution of judiciary. We are pleased to state that in this year’s budget an amount of Rs. 5,000 crores have been provided as grants for the States to improve the justice delivery system, including strengthening of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
The Hon’ble Finance Minister has also proposed “National Mission for Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms”. According to the Hon’ble Finance Minister the object of the mission is to help reduce legal backlog in Courts from an average of 15 years at present, to 3 years by 2012.
The object of the proposal is laudable and deserves to be appreciated. It is the first time since independence, in the presentation of Budget an amount of Rs. 5,000 crores has been earmarked for the reform in the judiciary. Judiciary is guardian of our democracy. Common citizens have immense faith in the temple of justice. Only one criticism against the judiciary is of delay in disposing of the matters. Delay in disposal of matters is not always on account of judges; it is also due to shortage of judges and lack of infrastructure. When world is contracting into “global village”, the judiciary also requires to be equipped with modern tools. The judiciary neither has any political lobby to take up the cause of judiciary with the Government when the allocation of funds is required to be made for numerical strength and modernisation. Nor can it make representation to Government, like any branch of Government, similar to defence. It is very essential for the Government to allocate in each years budget a specific amount for upgrading justice delivery system and modernisation of judiciary. We hope the Government will allocate every year a reasonable amount for modernisation of judiciary and research of contemporary legal systems.
The Government has appointed Mr. Sam Pitroda as Chairman of National Knowledge Commission and Mr. Nandan Nilekani as Chairman of National Unique Identification Development Authority of India, they are rendering immense service to the country.
It is worth considering co-opting Mr. Sam Pitroda and Mr. Nandan Nilekani into the body to streamline the use of technology in the functioning of judiciary and to prepare a road map for judiciary “Vision – 2020”.
At present the head of the judiciary has to do judicial work in addition to the administrative work and normally the tenure of the head is very short and hence they cannot chalk out a long term plan for the administrative reform. If a separate committee is constituted by the Government involving the lawyers, judiciary and experts in the technology, in all likelihood the people of our country stand to benefit with justice within reasonable time. We appeal to the readers to send their views and suggestions to Hon’ble Finance Minister and Law Minister to enable them to prepare the road map for the reform in the judiciary. Federation is proposing to prepare, A Road Map for Judiciary – Vision-2020, in respect of Direct and Indirect Taxes, so that the dream of Hon’ble Finance Minister and Hon’ble Law Minister to deliver the justice, within two years can be achieved.
New Direct Taxes Code
The Government has proposed to introduce the New Direct Taxes Code from April 1, 2011. There are number of provisions in the proposed Direct Taxes Code which require reconsideration for far reaching and sweeping powers have been given to the Tax officials to reopen the assessment, for rectification, recovery, etc. Many provisions touching reopening and rectification of assessment require recasting. Apart from amendments there has to be a specific provision for accountability of the administrative machinery in the Direct Taxes Code. Unless the concept of accountability as suggested by Dr. Raja J. Chelliah is introduced whatever may be the law, the honest tax-payers may have to undertake the route of litigation to get the refund or to get the correct assessment.
Federation has made various constructive suggestions to the Chairman, CBDT and the Hon’ble Chairman has agreed to look into the proposals. Federation is also proposing to have a Meeting with Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Chairman, Standing Committee at Mumbai jointly with IMC and other professional organizations. All professional organisations and professionals can send their view objectively for better implementation of the new Direct Taxes Code. We are of the opinion that it is the professionals and voluntary professional organizations always send the suggestions objectively without any fear or favour. Only larger benefit of the large majority engages such organisations.
Professionals must play a proactive role by making a representation to Government to allocate a specified amount for modernisation and research of judiciary. As the tax rate in India is very much reasonable and comparable, the professionals must advise the assessees to pay the taxes rightfully due to Government without venturing in to adventures tax planning.
Dr. K. SHIVARAM
To be published in the AIFTP Journal