Tax Practitioners from across the country salute the Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal oldest Temple of Justice, which is considered as Mother Tribunal in India, on completion of 80years of its purposeful existence and wishes that the Income tax Appellate Tribunal retain its glory as one of the finest Institution of our Country for years ahead (25-1-1941 to 25-1-2021) – Whether faceless appeals proposed by the Hon’ble Finance Minister in the Finance Bill 2021, before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal will inspire the confidence of the Tax payer?
Dr. K. Shivaram, Senior Advocate,Bombay High Court
January 25, 2021 was the 80th Foundation Day of the Income tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT)which is considered as Mother Tribunal of our country. The Income-tax Appellate Tribunal is one of the oldest Temples of Justice in our country. The older the temple, the greater is its sanctity and reverence. It is the strong foundation of this great institution which is made possible to retain the glory as one of the finest institutions of our country. It is due to very successive Hon’ble Presidents, Hon’ble Vice-Presidents, Hon’ble Members, the value ethics and convention which the Tax Bar inherited from the stalwarts of the Tax Bar and learned Departmental Representatives. I am associated with this great institution for more than 42 years. During the early days of my practice, I have had the opportunity to appear before various judicial and quasi-judicial forums. Eventually, I decided to practice mostly before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and the Hon’ble High Court on Direct taxes, according to me on account of its efficiency and justice-oriented approach of the hon’ble Members of the institution, the Income tax Appellate Tribunal is one of the best institutions to practice.
I had the fortune of interacting with12 Hon’ble Presidents of the ITAT, Vice-Presidents and Hon’ble Members as a representative of the ITAT Bar Association Mumbai since 1980.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice P.P.Bhatt, dynamic President of the ITAT has given us an opportunity on the occasion of 79thFoundation Day which was celebrated at New Delhi on25-1-2020, to share our thought on the subject of “Expectation of stake holders from the ITAT” We have published a detail article on the subject of “Vision 2022- Expectation of stake Holders form the ITAT” at www.itatonline.org and made an appeal to send objective suggestions from the readers.
The year 2020 the world witnessed a Pandemic. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi has taken very innovative steps and we are able to fight and overcome the situation. Hon’ble Finance Minster of India Mrs. Nirmala Sitaraman had introduced many amendments on Direct and Indirect taxes to strengthen our Economy.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, Hon’ble High Courts have also passed many suo moto orders to overcome the legal hurdle. Under the able leadership of Hon’ble Justice P.P. Bhatt, President of the ITAT, The Income tax Appellate Tribunal has played a very proactive role in the year 2020in discharging the responsibility of disposing the good number of matters, with active co-operation of various Tax Bars of the Country.
The virtual court started by the ITAT has disposed of a good number of matters and there is an ongoing research is in the process how to go forward. The hon’ble Vice-Presidents of the ITAT have interacted with stake holders and representatives of the Tax Bars across the country on the issues relating to Virtual Court proceedings. Many valuables suggestions were provided for the consideration, including permanency of virtual courts.
The Hon’ble Finance Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman in her first digital budget sharing her vision about “Atamanirbhar Bharat”, has rightly referred six Pillars i.e., Health & well-being, Physical, financial capital and infrastructure, inclusive development for aspirational India, reinvigorating human capital, innovation and R&D, and minimum Government and maximum governance, for overall development of the economy of our country, however Judiciary is also one of the main Pillar of the democracy deserved allocation of funds for infrastructure, modernization and digitalization was neither referred nor any amount is allocated. All India Federation of Tax Practitioners (AIFTP) has made representations from time to time that every year Budget there has to be a separate Budget allocation to the Judiciary.
Hon’ble Attorney General of India Shri K.K. Venugopal, Senior Advocate, in his article titled, “Access to Justice the Indian Experience” on the occasion of Golden Jubilee Souvenir of the Income tax Appellate Tribunal stated as under:
“Any number of laws may be passed by the legislatures for the welfare of the people but if non-implementation of the same cannot be remedied except 10 or 15 years, then surely the judicial system itself needs drastic overhaul.
It is unfortunate that Governments have not been setting apart the necessary funds in the financial budgets for expanding the Court system to keep space with veritable litigation explosion. The advance planning that Governments do in the regard to the economy generally, including the industries run by it for meeting the increasing demands for its products is absent when it comes to the area of litigation which, by and large, receives a step -motherly treatment at the hands of the Government.”
We hope the Government will consider the Judiciary is also one of the important pillar of the Democracy.”
Further, the Hon’ble Finance Minister, in the Finance Bill, 2021 has proposed an amendment to Section 255 of the Income tax Act, 1961 wherein provision for Faceless Proceedings before the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal in a jurisdiction less manner. According to us the Faceless Proceedings before the ITAT is too early to be implemented. The Tribunal being a final fact-finding authority in a number of cases voluminous paper book may have to be verified it may not be possible in afaceless proceeding. There is a difference in the proceedings before the CIT(A) and the Tribunal. Proceedings before CIT (A) is an extension of the assessment proceedings and whereas, the Proceedings before the Appellate Tribunal is judicial in nature. When the system is working very well for more than 80 years to the satisfaction of the assesses and revenue, the change may not be desired. Tax Bar Associations across the Country may have to debate on the issue of a Faceless Proceedings before the Income tax Appellate Tribunal and may have to send strong representation to the Hon’ble Finance Minster. Finally, if the Government is not agreeing with the suggestions of the Tax Professionals, they have no alternative but to knock the doors of the Judiciary.
On the successful completion of the 80th years of the Foundation day all those who are concerned with the ITAT may have to deliberate how to retain the glory of the ITAT as one of the finest institutions of Country and suggest the road map for centenary celebration in the year 2041. In the year 2022 our great Nation will be celebrating 75 years of Independency(Platinum Jubilee). It is an occasion of celebration to all of us and strengthen the democracy and Nation building process.
Income-tax Appellate Tribunal had celebrated its, 79th Foundation day on 25th January 2020, under the leadership of Hon’ble Mr.JusticeP.P.Bhatt. President of the ITAT.
The Platinum Jubilee (75th Anniversary) on 24th and 25 of January 2016, in the year 2016 under the leadership of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dev Darshan Sud, President of ITAT.
Diamond Jubilee in the Year 2001, (60thAnniversary), under the leadership of Hon’ble Shri V.Dongzathang, President of the ITAT.
Golden Jubilee in the Year 1991,(50thAnniversary)under the leadership of Hon’ble Ch. G. Krishanamurthy, President ITAT, Ruby Jubilee, 40thAnniversary,in the year 1981,under the Leader the Leader ship of Hon’ble Shri.T.D. Sugla President of the ITAT, Silver Jubilee in the year1966, under the leadership of Hon’ble Shri T.P.Mukerjee, on various occasionsthe ITAT has published souvenirs which contains the wealth of the information of the ITAT. We have made an attempt to prepare the gist of accolades and encomiums by the Hon’ble Prime Ministers of India, Hon’ble Chief Justices, Hon’ble Judges of Supreme Court, Hon’ble Ministers, Hon’ble Chief Justices of High Courts, Hon’ble Judges, Hon’ble Presidents of the ITAT, articles by Hon’ble members, legal luminaries, Chartered Accountants, on the functioning of the ITAT. In the year 1998-99, the total pendency before the ITAT was 3,00,597, whereas total pendency as on December 31, 2020 was 79,754. Out of 126 sanctioned strength of the Hon’ble members there are only 79 members as on January 31, 2021 and there is vacancy of 47 members. In spite of shortage of the Hon’ble Members the ITAT is able to bring down the pendency, without compromising on quality of the judgements delivered, which deserves to be appreciated by the tax payers, as they are able to get the decision form the final fact-finding authority within one year of filling of the appeal. The Hon’ble Members of the Tribunal may have to bear in mind that in hearing the appeals, they are not merely adjudicating on the issues before them but they are invariably deciding the fortunes of the assesees. Whereas, one wrong decision against an assessee may ruin his life and relegate him to the position of a pauper, and such decision also becomes a precedent to follow the other cases, the same against the Department may affect the coffers of the Government to an extent of a drop in an ocean. Hence, the Tribunal has greater responsibility to the citizens.
Few important suggestions are referred in herein below for the consideration of the all those who are concerned with the functioning of the ITAT.
We hope the same will be interesting to the readerswho are concerned with the functioning of the ITAT.
Role of the Bar
-Wisdom and knowledge of legal luminaries whom used to regularly appear before the Tribunal in its formative years
-Professionals who appear before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal must adhere to the Standard of Professional Conducts and Etiquette (code of ethics) adopted by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Mumbai
-Value and ethics of the tax Bar deserves to be practiced and preserved
-Bar have to play a very active role to preserve the honour and independency of the Institution.
-Appointment of the Hon’ble members of tenure basis have to be watched carefully and if it is not helping the Institution, it is the duty and responsibility of the Tax Bar to make representations and work hard to bring the old provision of appointing the members of the ITAT on the basis of pre amended provision of appointment of Hon’ble Members of the ITAT
Role of the Bench
-Its impartial functioning, the judicial spirit displayed in its orders and its capacity to read the evidence and arrive at accurate factual findings have all come in for special praise by distinguished judges and jurists
-The Members of the Income -tax Appellate demonstrate a high degree of proficiency in all the allied branches of laws which contributes to a high measure of success and competency in considering matters of dispute by the Tribunal
-Members used to be courteous, humorous and used to treat with smile at the same level
– Tradition of encouraging the juniors must be preserved and encouraged
-92.5% of the disputes before the Tribunal reach finality there itself. Ultimately 98% of the Tribunal’s order are approved by the Supreme Court. These figures speak eloquently about the efficacy of the Tribunal’s functioning
–Hon’ble Members of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal are adhered to the Code of Ethics adopted by the Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts.
-No taxpayer has to wait more than six months to know his tax liability from the final fact-finding Authority
-The ideal Member would have to be extremely circumspect about his behavior and conduct. He would subject to himself to certain self -imposed restraints. He would as far as possible meeting the assessee’s or Departmental representatives alone in his chamber. He would not accept private hospitality or gifts except from relatives and close friends of a standing before he became a Member.
-Orders may be dictated same day of hearing, due to any reason not possible to dictate the order on the same day it is desirable to dictate and sign the order within one week of hearing
-Research in the Chamber incorporating the same in the order without giving an opportunity to the parties concerned must be avoided.
-Tribunal being final fact-finding authority, it is desirable that the Tribunal should avoid disposing of the matters on preliminary issues, without deciding all the issues raised before it and it should as far as possibly give its view on all the points raised before it so that the High materials and not only part of it
-Principle of natural justice and fair hearing must be provided to assessee as well as the revenue
-Conventions practiced by the Hon’ble Members of the ITAT is deserved to be followed.
Amendment by the Legislature
-Digitization of all the records and e filing of appeals must be encouraged
– Central Tax Court having all India Jurisdiction for speedy disposal of matters is the only solution to reduce the pendency of tax appeals before various High Courts
-Government should set apart a substantial amount for modernization, infrastructure and digitalisation of the Income tax Appellate Tribunal
-It is desirable that a Committee should be set-up which would expeditiously look in to reports, which appear to have a prima facie basis, and submit its findings to the President.
Role of the Judiciary.
-The recruitment of Tribunal members, the methodology needs relook. An interview of the candidates for fifteen minutes to half an hour will nor bring out the merits of the candidates. The candidates should be given written papers with illustrative cases and directed to write their own judgements.
– 80 years of the existence of the ITAT only 32 Judicial members have been elevated. There has to be systematic policy of elevating judicial members of Appellate Tribunal to the High Courts where their expertise will be useful in expeditiously disposing of tax cases.
Vision and hope
There are good number of young Chartered Accountants and Lawyers who are regularly appearing before the Income tax Appellate Tribunal and High courts who are men of integrity and following the value, ethics and conventions followed by the stalwarts of the Tax Bar, when we celebrate centenary few of them will be designated as Senior Advocates and we have confidence in them that they will carry forward the legacy of tax Bar which is considered as one of the Best Bar of our Country.
We make an appeal to the readers send objective suggestions which may help the Government and also the Hon’ble President of the ITAT torenderbetter administration of justice by the Income tax Appellate Tribunal which is the final fact-finding Authority on Direct taxes.
Income TaxAppellate Tribunal, 1941 – 2016 – Accolades and Encomiums
Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – 1941 -2016Souvenir -Platinum Jubilee Celebration(75 Years) 24 th-25th January 2016.
Hon’ble Justice Dev Darshan Sud, President Income Tax Appellate Tribunal
“The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal completesseventy-five years of distinguished judicial workon 25th January2016. I am privileged to beits President in the Platinum Jubilee year.The Tribunal started its journey in 1941 to be precise 25th January, 1941, when Shri Muhammad Munir was appointed as its first President later on elevated as judge of the High Court of Lahore and then Chief Justice of Pakistan. The Tribunal has contributed immensely to the Indian Judicial system with thirty-three of its membersbeing elevated as Judges and Chief Justices of various High Courtsand two of themto the Supreme Court notably Hon’bleMs. Justice Fathima Beevi, the first lady Judge of the Supreme Court and Hon’ble Justice S. Ranganathan.
The Tribunal now comprises of sixty-three Benches spread over twenty-seven cities across India with particularly all of them being in the State capitals. It predates India’s independence and is living up to its reputation of being an independent adjudicatory body rendering quick and inexpensive justice free from technicalities. The judgements rendered have been appreciated by the Supreme Court, High Courtsand International Bodies as being clear, precious and free from technical jargon, interpreting an otherwise complicated law of taxes. The working of the Tribunal is a complete answer to the popular misconception that tribunalisation of justice is against impartiality as such bodies are under the influence of the executive. It was after assessing the functioning of this Tribunal that other Tribunals were established.
We go to the Platinum Jubilee celebration, which is an exceptional land mark in the life of any institution, and I am confident that centenary celebration will bring even greater laurels to the Tribunal.”
Hon’ble Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President Republic of India
“Over the last more than seven decades, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has shown exemplary diligence in dealing with intricate domestic as well as International taxation issues and rendering decisions which balances the interests of the taxmen and citizens. The Tribunal has been adjudicating disputes in the filed of direct taxes in affair and impartial manner. It has been discharging its functions not only to the satisfactionof the Executive but also that of the taxpayers at large.”
Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi,Prime Minster of India
“I am sure,the Tribunal will continue to play a pivotal role in speedy and impartial resolution of tax disputes.”
Hon’ble Shri Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting, India
“Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has conducted itself in an unbiased and fair manner in the discharge of its duty of adjudicating disputes under direct tax laws, and is held in high esteem by the taxpaying fraternity as well as Revenue Department.”
Hon’ble Shri D.V.Sadananda Gowda,Minister Law and Justice Government of India
“The Income -Tax Appellate Tribunal, which is one of the premier bodies in the hierarchy of dispute resolution system, is going to complete 75 Years in its long and eventful journey. Though commenced prior to independence, i.e. in 1941, it remained steadfast and added new feathers to its cap, not because of its number of years of existence but by virtue of its unique blend of Judicial Member and Accountant Member-experts in their own fields, and also by following judicious approach in rendering judgements. It stood as mother of all Tribunals, allowing the Government to set up several other Tribunals on the same lines.”
Shri K.V.Chowdary Central Vigilance Commissioner, Central Vigilance Commission.
“Having appeared in Income Tax Appellate Tribunal as a Departmental Representative and having dealt with several orders passed by the Hon’ble Tribunal in various capacities, I can confidently say that the Hon’ble Tribunal has been discharging the pious responsibility of maintaining a balance betweenthe demands of the Revenue and the rights of the tax payers in an exemplary manner.”
Hon’ble Shri R.K Malhotra, Secretary Government of IndiaMinistry of law & JusticeDepartment of Legal Affairs.
“Establishing the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal under the Income -tax Act 1922i.e. prior to independence in 1947 and its continuation after the independence in 1947, without much change, itself, is an indication that functioning of the Tribunal has been a success. It has exhibited independence in its working, free from any pressure.
The pendency in the Appellate Tribunal has come down by adopting Case Management System and on an average appeal are decided with in a period of one to two years.”
Hon’ble Shri R.V. Easwar,Former Judge of the High Court of Delhi
“Constituted as the first of its kind in 1941 it has been the chief architect of the development of the income -tax law in India, enriched by the wisdom and knowledge of legal luminaries such as Late Nani Palkhivala, R.J.Kolah, Ashok Sen, Radha Binod Pal, Subbararya Aiyar, P.R.Srinivasan, all of whom used to regularly appear before the Tribunal in its formative years. Its impartial functioning, the judicial spirit displayed in its orders and its capacity to read the evidence and arrive at accurate factual findings have all come in for special praise by distinguished judges and jurists.
Thevolume and variety of cases which the Tribunal handles today are mind -boggling and it is a matter for great appreciation that the Members are able to deal with complex issues with consummate ease. A large part of the credit for this must go to the members of the legal and accountancy professions as well as to the officers of the IRS who assist the Tribunal.”
Hon’ble Shri G.E.Veerabharappa(Officiating President 14 -10-2001 -1-9- 2012)
“In retrospection I may say without fear of contradiction, that the Institution as it is today is built by sheer hard work of its members, Vice -Presidentsand Past Presidents. They always led from the front in laying down the law which the highest Courts of law found it difficult to reverse in most of the cases. I am sure that there is lot to be learnt from them.”
Professor Michael Lang, Head of Institute ofAustrian and International Tax law of WU (ViennaUniversity of Economics & Business)
“The number of cases which had been decided by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has grown over the years and reasoning of its decisions are well observed all over the world. Courts around the world have benefited from the fact that they could look at Indian decisions. Of course it is in the nature of Court decisions that they do not convince everybody,but at least the decisions of the Indian Tribunal are taken in to account by many other Courts and thus helps them to improve the quality of their own decisions.”
Shri T.N.Manoharan, M.Com. B.L F.C.A,Padma Shri Awardee and Former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
“Another commendable features is that the members of this renowned Institution have been dynamic in adapting to the evolution of the issues in the income -tax legislation.The way business are carried on has been undergoing a paradigm shift with the emergence of E. Commerce and Digital era. Gone are the days when mere disallowances and chargeability of certain items, construed as income, dominated the contentions in appeal. Now a days, many divergent issues, including issues relating to cross border transactions, interpretation of the tax laws in the context of the DTAAs and Transfer Pricing with complex dimensions are ably adjudicated by the ITAT.”
Shri Dinesh Vyas, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court
“In the earlier part of my legal career, I appeared much more in the High Court in comparisionto the Tribunal. But,with the passage of time, I was more attracted towards the Tribunal and the reasons were obvious.Tribunal is manned, by and large,by persons who know the fundamentals of the tax law quite well and therefore arguments before them are well understood and appreciated. The Tribunal does not have complex and rigid rules or procedures and therefore it provides relatively a more congenial and less troublesome environment for practice. Furthermore, the thrill and excitement at the Tribunal level is very challenging since its judgement has direct and immediate impact on business operations of a Company because notwithstanding a High Court Appeal, tax is required to be paid up.”
Shri K.C Devdas,Chartered Accountant Hyderabad
“The Members of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal demonstrate a high degree of proficiency in all the allied branches of laws which contributes to a high measure of success and competency in considering matters of dispute by the Tribunal. It must be acknowledged that a high sense of objectivity prevails in the Tribunal and a feeling of confidence is created in the taxpayers that their appeals are disposed of by the Tribunal admirably. It is this confidence that is generated in the tax -paying public that has largely contributed to the success and leadership of the Income -tax Tribunal as a whole and the President, Vice -Presidents and the Members of the Tribunal in particular can look back to a credible record of 75 years and legitimately be proud of having earnedrecognition of a high order.”
Shri Subhash S.Shetty, Advocate Bombay High Court , President ITAT Bar Association Mumbai
“The Tribunal has shown great independence and courage in deciding cases according to law and in consonance with justice, regardless of the stakes involved.”
Dr.K.Shivaram,Senior Advocate, Bombay High Courtand Mr.J.D.Nankani, Advocate, Bombay High Court – All India Federation of Tax Practioners
“ITAT has been enormously successful in achieving the purpose for which it was established. The ITAT has also been rendering qualitative judgements including those in the sphere of International Taxation and Transfer Pricing”
Shri Porus F.Kaka,Senior, Advocate, Bombay High court , President, International Fiscal Association
“My family and I have been privileged to be associated with this institution for the majority of its existence both during the lifetime of my Late father Mr. Farrok N. Kakaand myself. I have been privileged to spend most of my professional life associated with this institution and I take pride in its completion of 75 years of this Journey.
During this time I have been witness not only to its “domestic journey”but also its “International journey”and today it is perhaps the largest forum rendering international tax decisions in the entire world!”
Shri Ajay Wadhwa,President, ITAT Bar Association, New Delhi
“This temple of justice has stoically withstood the vagaries of time and with each passing year re-enforced the confidence of the tax payers and the Departmentalike, in its ability to deliver quick and efficacious justice.
With dignified indulgence in their hearts, the Hon’ble Members donning the Benches work ceaselessly to communicate to the aggrieved, through their well researched orders, that Justice will not only be done but will to be seen to be done.”
Hon’bleJustice Mr.S. Ranganathan, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India, Member Law Commission of India& Chairman, Authority for Advance Rulings – The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal1941 to 2016.
“My tenure of 14 years on the Tribunal was a very happy period. We, the Members of the Tribunal, derived great satisfaction from the discharge of our functions dispensing justice to the best of our ability. We were completely insulated from the tax department and there was no kind of interference from any branch of the administration in our judicial functioning. We functioned, in places where there was more than one Bench, as a cordial team – more or less like members of a family -and developed mutual regard and esteemfor one another. I recall with pleasure the lunch meets that we used to have in Calcuttain the 1960s and in the 1970s and I am surea similar spirit of bonhomieprevailed inother places as well. Dissenting opinions were there no doubt but these were incidental to the nature of our duties and created no ill will. It was truly the happiest time of my life.”
Hon’ble Justice Mr.T.N.C. Rangarajan , Former Judge High Courts of Madras and Andhra Pradesh, Former Vice -President Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – In and About ITAT – 20 thinks I learnt in twenty years.
“Brotherhood is the first and foremost thing that has been imprinted deep in my memory. Each member was unique, coming from different parts of the country, speakingdifferent languages at home, educated in different institutions and having varied interests. Yet we were brothers in in siting that the Government does the right thing for its citizens.The camaraderie was so great that once Justice Fathima Beevi, a siting judge of the Supreme Court, was visiting the place where I was posted and came directly to my home and went straightto thekitchen to ask for lunch disregarding all protocol. She said she felt more at home in the Tribunal, where she had worked earlier,than any other institution which she was associated.”
Hon’ble Justice Mr R.V.Easwar, Former Judge High Court of Delhi, Ex -Officiating, President, ITAT – My Ramblings.
“When the number of Benches increased, there was dearth of space and we were forced to think in terms of housing the additional benches in a different locations, a move which would have caused extreme hardship to all the stakeholders had it materialized. But the ITAT Bar of Bombay cameto the rescue and a PIL was promptly filed in the Bombay High Courtfor securing space vacated in the same floor of Old CGO Complex(as it was then called ) by the I& B Ministry.
The ITAT Bar, Bombay also questioned the removal of the powers of Transfer of Members from thePresident and giving it to the Law Ministry as an intrusion in to the independence of a judicial body. Several other ITAT Bars also joined the proceedings and ultimately the Supreme Court thwarted the move and restored the power to the President with guidelines such as the formation of a collegium and other norms. I shudder to think what would havehappened to the Tribunal had the move had not been challenged, and full credit should go to the ITAT Bar of Bombay which took the lead in the matter. The Tribunal is also beholden to the late Nani Palkhivalawho initially appeared in the matter before Bombay High Court, in one of his last appearanceson account of hisfailing health, to Mr.IqbalChaglawho took over from later and to the late Mr. T.V.Rajagopala Rao, then President of the Tribunal, who placed a 90 page affidavit before the High Court making out a strong defence against the usurpation of the powers. I understand thathe was advised some against fling the affidavit as ( according to them) it may annoy the Governmnt which may augur well for him, but he took no notice of that and did what he thought was his duty. I doff my hat to his senseofduty and moral courage. I want the members of the Tribunal who have joined recently and perhaps aware of this phase in the evolution of the Tribunal they serve, to reflect upon the courage and moral conviction that are required to take such apositionwith nothing but independence of the Tribunal in mind. Mr. Rajagopala Rao had this in abundance and went on undeterred. Please spare a thought for him. The full independence you enjoy now because of his action.”
Hon’bleCh. G.Kriahna Murthy, Former President ITAT, – Past and Present of ITAT – My perspective.
“The 27 years I spent in the Tribunal was so satisfying and educative that these were the best part of my life. I am extremely happy that I was the head of this Tribunal for about 9,1/2 years which enabled me to became a Member of the Law Commission of India.
I remember that Shri Beni Sankar Prasad said in the Parliament that the ITAT is an “oasis”. The former Law MinisterLateShri H.R.Gokhale said in the parliament that “All the Tribunals in the country should be modelled on the model of ITAT, as it is a model Tribunaldelivering equitable justice expeditiously “. Late Shri R.Ventakatraman, the then Finance Minsterand FormerPresident of India said “The Customs and Excise Tribunal is modelled on the model of ITAT as the Government and the parties had utmost faith in the delivery of most satisfactory judgements.”
“I may also mention here that when I was the President of the Tribunal, a proposal from the Tribunal to make it equal to that of High Courtwas accepted by the Law Ministry (at that time Shri P.C.Rao was the LawSecretarynow he is the senior most judge of the International Tribunal for Law Seas ). But unfortunately, at the time of formation, the then Chairmanof the law Commissionof India wrote a letter to the law Ministry suggesting postponementofthe same. Otherwise, the fate of the Tribunal would have been totally different. That is how the National Tax Tribunal (NTT)/ National Tax Court (NTC) was conceived but did not see the light of the day.”
Hon’ble Shri Vimal Gandhi,Former PresidentITAT -The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) A success story
“Prominent International experts on tax laws have also spoken highly on the decisions of the Tribunal. It is sufficient to quote late Prof Klaus Vogel who after consideringdecisions of the Tribunal had this to say in IBFD bulletin:
Readers may have observed that more and more decisions by Indian Courts have been reported in these columns. This may have surprised those who assumed that case laws from developing countries cannot be very relevant to the sophisticated field of double taxation. But it is a prejudice and it is certainly not true for India. The country has a highly qualified judiciary educated in common law system which in particular since liberalization of India’s trade around 1991, increasingly has to deal with cases involving cross border situations. Those cases, therefore, and the reasons given by the Courts for their holding so, are as appropriate for demonstrating and discussing the problems of tax treaty law as are decisions by Courtsof other countries, and they are a voice worth to be heard in International dialogue of Courts and experts recent cases (from ITAT) demonstrate this.”
In the Invitation dated March 19, 2008 U.N.D.P described the Tribunal as “One of the most respected tax Tribunal.”This reputation world over has not been acquired in a day but is the result of persistent, dedicated and untiring efforts of brilliant members of the Tribunal in all these 75 years. These members took reputation of the Tribunal as divine and did everything possible to raise it to the highest level. The Tribunal cannot afford to remain complacent. All members have tomake a team effort to maintain the glory.”
Hon’ble Shri George Cheriyan,Former Senior Vice -President-ITAT – Glorious two Decades
“This is how I cherish and remember my tenure in the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (April, 1970) to September,1990). In those twenty years, the independence with which we were allowed to function is such thatI never felt I was working for anybody. There was not even any suggestion form any quarter as to how any matter should be decided or even approached. The atmosphere was one of total independence. It was like being self employed with assurance that salary would come in regularly on the first of every month from Government coffers. The Institution born in 1947 had developed and matured a tradition which, I am gratefulto God, I inherited and became a beneficiary.”
Hon’bleShri R.P Garg, Senior Vice -President, Income tax Appellate Tribunal- ITAT -As I see it over the Years.
“Tribunal has never lost sight of that motto or forgotten the ideals which gave it strength. Ever since it is flying with colours ;more and more wings and feathers added to it. Today over half a century of such Tribunals have surfaced on the line.
Today the position of the Tribunal can be summed up by the feelings of the legal fraternity saying,“Given the choice, the Attorney would select the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal as the forum to appear and argue the matters of the tax payer.“Answer to the saying is not far to seek. It is because of its informality and easy accessibility, expert combination and adoption of very standard conventions in the Tribunal- like unison and partition; communionand not commotion; differencesonissues and not with persons; consistency in approach; confer and not confront, etc.- which have contributed to the popularity of the Tribunal.”
Hon’ble Shri N.D.Raghavan,Former -Vice President, ITAT,Former -Vice Chairman, CAT – Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – A Premium Institution
“It is a fact that the judges of Supreme Court and High Courts have commended ITAT’s functioning and a resolution was also passed in the All India Chief Justices Conference that certain percentage of High Court vacancies be filed by considering Tribunal Members for elevation to High Court. It was unfortunately not strictly implemented though many of the sitting Members deserves to be elevated to various High Courts.”
Hon’ble Shri D.S.MeenakshisundramFormer,Vice-President ITAT – Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – My perspective.
“Both from the Bar as well as from the Bench the only thing which I noticed in common is that the Members who are selected had maintained high standards of ethics, by and large, and had good command over the subject, apart from the fact that they were eager to do justice. In other words, the Members of the Tribunal had always lived up to the motto of the Tribunal – “Sulabh NyaySatvar Nyay”
I hope that the ITAT will continue to render “Sulabh Nyay Satvar Nyay “to the taxpayers and theRevenue in future.”
Shri Philip Baker QC. Field Court Tax Chambers – The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal & International Taxation.
“75 years ago, no one could have predicted that the ITAT would become one of the most active Tribunals in the world dealing with issues such as interpretation of tax treaties and transfer pricing. The ITAT is developing expertise and experience in these areas. It will be interesting to see how this develops over next 25 years, and to see the comments that will be made when the ITAT reaches its century.”
Prof. Dr. Jeffrey Owens, Director, WU Global Tax Policy Centre and former Head of the Centre for Tax policy and Administration at OECD- Platinum Jubilee of ITAT
“ITAT has been fortunate to have been led by a series of outstanding lawyers who have immersed themselves in the complexities ofinternational taxation and who have closely followed the gradual way that that these rules have been adapted to a changing environment. ITAT, especially in recent years has recognizedthe key role it has in getting the right balance between protecting certainty and predictability to foreign investors. In this way, it has contributed to the opening up of the Indian economyand thereby helping the Government to achieve sustainable growth, which in turns helps to create employment and reduce poverty.”
Shri S.E. Dastur,Senior Advocate, Bombay, High Court
ITAT -Random thoughts
“On a few occasions there have been somewhat perturbing reports of allegations of impropriety by a Tribunal member. It is desirable that a Committee should be set-up which would expeditiously look in to reports, which appear to have a prima facie basis, and submit its findings to the President. TheCommittee should consist of the Senior Vice -President and another member functioning at the headquarters of the Tribunaland one member functioning at the place where the member against whom an allegation is made is based. If it is found that the conduct of a member has not been what it should have been, appropriate action should be taken at an early date. Transferring the member to another location is not a solution. If the existing rules do not contain adequate provisions conferring appropriate powers in this behalf an amendment thereof may have to be considered. Ifnecessary the President may be vested with wider powers in this behalf”
Shri N.M.Ranka, Senior Advocate , Rajasthan High Court – IncomeTax Appellate Tribunal -As I see it since 1954
“I have pleasure and privilege of appearance before the prestigious institution since 1954in Delhi benches, which were functioning on barracks. I have appeared fairly large number of benches all over the Country. I cherished the appearance and atmosphere as Shri N.A Palkhivala, doyen of our professionuse to enjoy appearances. Members used to be courteous, humorousand used to treat with smile at the same level. We used to live lie a JointHindu Family, respecting and loving each other andlearningfrom teaching to one another. Mr Sehgal,a senior Judicial Member of ITAT Delhi Benches, when I stood up to argue on application for rectification in 1977 stated :“Mr.Ranka, on Friday we sit to hear about our mistakes and try to understand view point of both the sides in a critical manner.”In recent yearsthe members do not appreciate filing of Rectification Applications and try to reject in a mechanical manner. There had been a sea change, in the attitude of the members of a prestigious institution of ITAT.
The Hon’ble Members are expected to be just fair, reasonable and give fair opportunity for hearing to both the sides, and writedetailed, well nit, reasoned, speaking orders, considering the facts and judicial precedents. Atmosphere should be congenial and younger generation needs encouragements.”
Shri.R.N.Bajoria,Senior Advocate , Calcutta High Court – My Association with Tribunal over half a Century.
“The Tribunal Benches with its Accountantand Judicial Members has provided an excellent and effective forum to tackle intricate niceties of both facts and law.
It has remarkably succeeded in providing speedy and judicious adjudication of the tax disputes. It’s decisions have earned high commendation as to their quality and exposition from the higher judiciary. Some of its Members have also been elevated to the higher and highest judiciary.”
Shri G. Sarangan,Senior, Advocate, Karnataka High Court – My Association with ITAT
“There was a time that be, gave serious thought to abolish this Institution and bring about a change for the sake of change. The then Government thought that ITAT was relief minded and was liberal in favour of assesses simply for the reason that a large number of departmental appeals did not succeed and the appeals of the assesses were partially or wholly allowed, the Governmentfailing to note that frivolous appeals were liable to be dismissed as without merit and orders of assessing Officer without proper factual foundation could not prevail in the ITAT. Ultimately wiser counsel dictated that ITAT was performing a very useful task and required to be retained in the scheme of things and grievance of Revenue requires adoption of other measures such as careful avoidance of indiscriminate filing of appeals, appointment of CIT-DRs, engagement of standing counsel in important cases and so on.”
Shri C.S.Aggarwal Senior, Advocate,Delhi High Court -Tribute to Income Tax Appellate Tribunal
“92.5% of the disputes before the Tribunal reach finality there itself. Ultimately 98% of the Tribunal’s order are approved by the Supreme Court.These figures speak eloquently about the efficacy of the Tribunal’s functioning.
Having closely witnessed the function of the Tribunal and the transparency with whichit has been working, I can confidentlysay that this institution had lived up to and continues to justify its motto “Sulabh Nyay Satwar Nyay”, i.e. easy andquick justice.”
Dr. Y.P.Trivedi, Senior Advocate,Bombay High Court- Income Tax Appellate Tribunal
“Every Institution has to do introspection.While we introspect the working of the Tribunal, one’s attention is driven to the process of recruitment.The methodology needsa relook. An interview of the candidates for fifteen minutes to half an hour will not bring out the merits of the candidates. The candidates should be given written papers with illustrative cases and directed to write their own judgements. This will bring out their understanding of law, approach to the subject and their ability to take mature decision’s. Such exercise, even though may little time consuming, it is worth its while to get the best candidates available “.
“An Institution like Tribunal is evaluated 1) by its judges2) by the Bar appearing before the Judges and 3 ) the efficient administrativemachinery. Theaim shouldbe strengthen all the three arms to make Income -tax Tribunal, an ideal forum for others to follow.”
Shri Arvind P.Datar, Senior Advocate,Madras High Court- Reminiscences and thoughts on the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.
“I hope that there is a systematic policy of elevating judicial members of ITAT to the High Courts where their expertise will be useful in expeditiously disposing of tax cases. Recently, the Supreme Court invited suggestions for improving the collegium system.One prominent suggestion was that judicial members of various Tribunalsshould be elevated to the High Courts. I sincerely hope that this suggestion is implemented by the collegium. Another recommendation that requires implementation ofis thecreation of Central Tax Courts as recommended
by theWanchoo and Choksi Committee. This will be aspecialized division in our High Courts like theChancery or Commercial Divisions inU.K”
Shri Arun Sathe, Senior Advocate,Bombay High Court – Glorious of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal
“My association with Income Tax Appellate Tribunal as a counsel, is more than 40 years andI hadoccasions to appear before it over a period of time.The traditions which have been set by their predecessors are still being followed by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. In good old days we never wanted to discuss any matter with Hon’ble members in their chambers. The practice we followed was to take department representatives’ along with us and hence there was never any gossip or any other discussion about a member.
As members of the Bar I can say proudly that while doing justice the Members of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal have never tried the Bar in any arrogant way and the relationship with the Bench and Bar has always been very cordial and fruitful.”
Shri S.N.Inamdar,Senior Advocate,Bombay High Court- My Years in the Tribunal
“I had also good fortune of listening to and observing many extraordinary talented advocates, Shri Nani Palkhivala of course takes the cake. Another Senior who greatly impressed me wasShri Sanatbhai Mehta. He was extremely cordial, soft spoken and humble. He hada tremendous knack of persuasion. He had the habit of saying ‘Sir’ after every two words and it used to sound very pretty. It had a ring of honesty and faith.
I have no doubt that such illustrious Members, Counsels and Departmental Representativeshaveenriched the institution and brought glory to it. Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is a unique institution without a parallel. I do not think there is any other Tribunal established under any other law which is as brilliant, as effective, as impartial andas professional as the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is.”
Dr. K. Shivaram,Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court – 75 years of ITAT – A Historic Milestone – My Reminiscences.
“As an admirer of the Tribunal, I foresee sweeping changes in the Tribunal’s justice delivery system with progressive technological upgradation. The Tribunal introduced the Concept of e. Court in the year 2012. When it will be fully developed all Benches across the country will be linked to the Head Office at Mumbai which may facilitate quick disposal of matters.
On the Bar’s side, there was always a responsibility on it to support the Tribunal on preserving the purity and integrity of the institution. Looking back in the history, we can say with pride and confidence on the eve of ITAT’s platinum anniversary that the Bar has abundantly contributed to thedevelopment of this Mother Tribunal in this regard.
Let us work hand -in hand and see that the Tribunal continues to retain its glory as one of the finest institutions in this country and as a model for other institutions to follow in India and rest of the world. On the whole, I feel upbeat and optimistic of a bright future for the Tribunal in the coming years!”
Shri Bansi S. Mehta FCA, Former President, ICAI (1981-82) – ITAT – As I see it over the years.
“It is a very gratifying -indeed proud -movement that ( “the Tribunal”( is completing 75 years in its role which is summed up by its very inspiring motto : “SULABH NYAH- SARVAR NYAYA”
Be that as it may, the existence of the Tribunal in the tax hierarchy is a great assurance that builds upthe required confidence on the part of he tax payers. May be the Tribunal in the next decade scale further heights and thereby serve the national interests of a true democracy”
Shri P.N Shah FCA, Former President of ICAI (1983 -84)
“During my professional practice for the last 65 years, I had the privilege of appearing before various Benches of the ITA Tribunal at Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Jaipur and other major cities. My experience about decision making process by this august body has been very satisfactory. The procedure for disposal of appeals is very informal compared to procedure before other Courts. The Members of the ITA Tribunal give very patient hearing in a very cordial atmosphere. When a member knows that a junior Chartered Accountant or Advocate is appearing on behalf of an assessee, he always tries to help and encourage him while he is arguing the appeal on behalf of his client. This has encouraged many junior Professional members to make rapid progress in their professional practice.
When I started my practice, I was told by my senior Partners, that key to success in tax practice before the Tribunal is that the counsel should master the facts of thecase and then apply the case law relevant to these facts. Apart from the advocacy, the presentation offactsbefore the Members is more important. For this purpose counsel has to take great care in preparing the compilation to be presented before the Members in the form of Paper Book. In many cases, I have noticed that senior counsels meticulously examine each page of the paper bookand determine its relevance to the facts of the case before it is submitted to members.Systematic Presentation of facts, supported by the evidence and the relevant case law in the form of Paper Book, facilitates the Members to decide the appeal expeditiously.
With advancement of technology, the ITA Tribunal may consider in its platinumJubilee year to improve its services by useofElectronic Mode in its communication with the litigants. Thus, the appeal papers, paper books and other documents can be received by Electronic Mode and correspondence, including appeal orders can be sent by using this mode of communication. We can look forward to a day when even a heating of appeal can be conducted through video conference.”
Shri.S.D.Kapila, Advocate-Departmental Representation in the Tribunal.
“When the Appellate Tribunal was set up, it was recognized by then Central Board of Revenue that selection of experienced officers well-versed in law and accounts for posting as DRwill be a crucial factor in safeguarding the interests of the revenue. My personal experience has been that over the years the original policy has been given a go by more often than not.
“Every year one of the subjects for discussion in the Commissioners Conference is the question as to how to improve the representation before theTribunal.No concreate result is achieved so far. One can only hope that the department takes some hard and practical decision in this year’s conference, which can beeffectively implemented.”
Shri S. N.Doshi CA- ITAT -As I see over the years.
“Till to day I have observed the working of Tribunal quite closely. it begins and concludes with folded hands sharp at 10.30.a.m and 1.30 P.m. respectively. This proves the preservation of sanctity of the Tribunal and functioning. I could find varied approaches of all the members while conducting the Bench. There is hardly any instance where anyof the members of the Bench ever discouraged the advocates or CA’s appearing before them.In factall those members assisted the juniors, proving to be a greatencouragement.”
Shri K.I. John CA, – ITAT-My perspective.
“This article is based on my58 years (i.e. from 1957 to 2015) experience as a practicing Chartered Accountant inKerala before the Hon’bleTribunal.
It was alwaysa pleasure to appear before the Bench which instantly puts us at ease, but at the same time not sacrificingserious discussion of the issues involved. The Bench was also eager to get the best out of Counsels from both the sides, enablinga freeand dispassionate exposition of facts and law. The members quick grasp and ability to reach out to the root of the matter quickly are qualities for every judicial officer to emulate.”
Shri S.R. WadhwaM.A.LLM, Advocate (Former Chief Commissioner of Income-tax and Chairman – Income-taxSettlement Commission )-Tribute to the Tribunal from the Income -Tax Department.
“The judicious working of the Tribunal has brought about a great measure of satisfaction both to the tax payers as well as to the Income -tax Department.Sometimes, it acts as an adjudicator or arbitratorand settles the mannerof computation of income leaving the scope for furtherappeals to the High Courts in only a few cases where unsettled substantial questions of law are involved.”
Shri G. Narayanaswamy, F.C.A- Reminiscences and thoughts on ITAT
“My association with ITAT started somewhere in 1952 in a very small way as a six-month-old Chartered Accountant.Being inexperienced, I stood with feet trembling and asked for adjournmentbefore the Bench presided over by Shri M.N. Sambamurthy, a dynamicAccountant Member, who later became the first Chartered Accountant to became
President of ITAT.He refused adjournmentand insisted on arguing the case. I fumbled. He asked me to come next day fully prepared. Even on next day, I fumbled and could not come up to his expectation. Hegave three or four moreadjournments. Ultimately, the appeal was allowed. This instilled in me much needed confidence to appear before ITATas also other forums. But for this opportunity, I would not have been what I am to day.
I therefore, salute ITAT for the enormous services it has been rendering not only to me but to many more. I wish and pray that the Institution attains greater glory and celebrate the Centenary, in a grand manner, which is possible if the Bench and the Bar feel that they hold their respective Offices in TRUST for the State and Citizens.”
Shri.K.Sampat Advocate,High CourtDelhi – Income TaxAppellateTribunal’s 75 years of Excellence
“This prestigious body, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, is a most wonderful gift to our nation from the erstwhile British rulers.Ironically this gift was received just before the time when our ancestors gave them a call to Quit India. The manner in which this new concept for resolutionof Income -tax disputes was executed in 1941 speaks most eloquently of the vision, ingenuity, dynamism and enterprise of its founders.
Over the years many a litigant have knocked at the doors of the Tribunal. Be it a corporate, businessman, politician, Trust, foreign enterprise, Government Body or any other entity, all have left securing justice with their hearts filed and mission fulfilled. All that has been due to the easy procedure and informed and courteous disposition of the Hon’bleMembers. May God Almighty bless this Institution with a grand futurewhich it richly deserves in its sacred role of dispensing quick and easy justice. May be saddled with greater responsibilities in answering questions of law at the national level, if not for other reason, then at least for the sake of promoting uniformity and assuring consistency in the administration of tax laws.”
Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – Diamond Jubilee – Souvenir -60 th Anniversary(24 th and 25 th January 2001)
Hon’ble Shri V.Dongzathang, President Income -Tax Appellate Tribunal
“On this occasion, it is very tempting to sit back and recount all the past achievements, the appreciations and praisesshowered on it by various high dignitaries, eminent Judges, Jurists, the litigants and the public at large. However, it will be a sad day for the Tribunal ifitrests on thepast laurels.
As we stand on the threshold of the 21st Century, we have to look ahead and focus on the challenges before us. The modernisation of the economy and explosion of the Information Technology raised the hopes and aspirations of the people every aspect. We have to meet them not only substantially but in full measure. It is my earnest appeal that we rededicate ourselves and devote our time and energy to serve the cause of justice and bring the Tribunal to greater honour and glory”
Hon’ble Krishna Kant, Vice-President .Government of India.
“The Tribunal is a vital link between the courts and the average citizen of the State and is playing a crucial role in dispending inexpensive, easy and quick justice through its Benchesall over India. Its role has been widely appreciated.”
Hon’ble Shri A.B.Vajpayee, Prime Minster of India
“As a quasi -judicial body, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has been fulfilling an important duty ever since it was set up in January 1941. On this occasion, I urge everybody associated with the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal to rededicate themselves to their motto “Easy and Quick Justice.”
Hon’ble Justice Dr.Adarsh Sein Anand, Chief Justice of India
“The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, one of the oldest quasi -judicial institutionsin this country is completing 60 years of its existence. This Tribunal has been earning accolades from various sections of the society more particularly from the litigant public for rendering quick and inexpensive justice in an extremely complicated area of law.i.e. direct taxes.”
Hon’ble Shri Arun Jaitly, Minister Law, Justice & Company Affairsand Shipping Government of India.
“Income -tax Appellate Tribunal is celebrating its diamond Jubilee celebration on 25 th January, 2001. To commemorate the occasion the Tribunal is bringing out a souvenir, which I am sure,will actas a guidance to all those manning the Tribunal.”
Hon’ble Shri Sukdev Singh Kang, Governor of Kerala.
“Considered the Mother Tribunal, it has provided a role model for all Tribunals that came up later; it has been rendering quick and cheap justice to the citizens of our country, something quite remarkable as well as laudable.”
Hon’ble Justice Mr Ashok Kumar Mathur, Chief Justice Calcutta High Court.
“The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is giving a great service to the assessee by their objective,independent and unbiased approach. It is a common experience that many officers are hesitant to take stand against the revenueand their approaches are more prone to revenue for certainreasons, the approach of the Tribunal is dynamic, objective and unbiased which provides great relief to the assesses.”
Hon’bleJustice Mr. N.K.Jain Chief Justice Madras High Court.
“Since its inception, the Tribunal has proved its useful existence as the assessee is getting relief at an early date and this way, inspiring the confidence of the public at large and particularly, the tax -payers. Many of its distinguished members, including the President, have been elevated as Judges of various High Courts and also adorned the Apex Court.”
Hon’ble JusticeMr. N.C.Jain, Chief Justice, Gauhati High Court.
“There can be no doubt that the Income -tax Appellate Tribunalhad in the past, been dispensing justice expeditiously and its performance deserves all praise. While most of the quasi judicial institutions are plagued with the problem of heavy arrears, it goes to the credit of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunalinall the States that they have been able to control accumulation of arrears. I hope that theMembersattending the conference would have fruitful discussion and take pragmatic steps for efficient administrationof the Benches of the Tribunal. I strongly feel that the Members of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal who are well versed with lawand known for their integrity should be considered for elevation on the Bench of the High Court.”
Hon’ble R.L Meena, Law Secretary Government of IndiaMinistry of Law Justice & Company Affairs Department of legal Affairs.
“The Tribunal was basically set up to provide impartial and independent forum outside the income -tax Department so that the litigants in tax matters may get impartial and quick justice. I am happy to note that the tribunalhas succeeded in achieving this object. We have entered the 21 st century with great hope for a bright future in all spheres of life. People ‘s life will not get bright light unless they are given justice in time. Let us, therefore, move on a speedy path for dispensing justice.”
Hon’ble Justice Mr.Y.R.Meena, Calcutta High Court(Later became Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court)
“As a matter of fact, I had the opportunity to associate myself with this Tribunalwhen I became a Member in 1980and continued till 1990. In this long span of 10 years or so, I hadwitnessed the confidence the Tribunal acquired of all concerned. It has glorious past and maintainingthe same status, the Income -Tax Appellate Tribunal has now made a name itself and it is a matter of great pleasure that this Tribunal has become a model for all other Tribunals in the country.”
Hon’ble Justice Mr.N.Narayan Krupa, Madras High Court.
“As a matter of fact, the Tribunal has played a key role in reducingthe docket explosion so far as taxation matters under the Income -Tax Act and allied enactment are concerned. The Tribunal can therefore legitimately bask under its glorious past and be assured of good wishes from one and all for an equally glorious future ahead.”
Hon’ble Justice Mr.K. Govindarajan,Madras High Court
“Tribunal has made variable contribution to the Income Tax law as the same has been manned by persons who are well- equipped in the said field.
I have no doubt that the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has undoubtedly secured the confidence of both the assesses and the revenue.”
Hon’ble Justice Mr.K.VenkataswamiFormer Judge, Supreme Court of India, Chairman Railways Rates Tribunal of India.
“It cannot be gain that since its inception, the Tribunal had turned out very useful work to the satisfaction of the Revenue and the Taxed. There is no doubt it is going to continue its existence in the years to come.”
Hon’ble Justice K.S. Paripoornan, Former Judge Supreme Court of India.
“As a final fact-findingauthority, the Tribunal spares no pains to scanthe entire material and apply the proper law on the subject, with care and circumspection. There is a high sense of impartiality and independence in the discharge of its duties. An in-depth study is usually undertaken on fact and lawand no stone is left unturned in the process.. On the whole both the assessee as well as the Revenue are assured of a fair and proper deal and sense of justice prevail in the delivery system. I should say that of all the Tribunals in this country, this pioneer has excelled in its result oriented performance which is certainly a “National Honour”for a sensitive Tribunal of its nature.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice Kuldip Singh Former Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“During the 60 years of its functioning the Tribunal has delivered quick and inexpensive justice to a large number of litigants under the Direct Tax laws.”
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Prabha Sridevan, Madras High Court
“A Tribunal which is set up as an alternative mechanism to a Court mustinspire confidence and public esteem. A Tribunal needs at its helm men with legal training, experience, judicial acumen and approach. Along withthis, they should also have the imagination to make the working of the Tribunal successful. The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal had at its helm eminent persons possessing all these qualities described above, right from the day of its inception, and such persons are there today, too. What was also contributed to the remarkable success of the Tribunal is the fact that those who have been responsible for its functioning realized very early that they should rid themselves of the shackles of formality and procedure.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice P.R. GokulakrishnanFormer Chief Justice Gujarat High Court.
“I am personally aware of the excellent work done by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. It has proved its worthiness by its thought provoking judgements from its inception, up to date. The impeccable character of the members of the Tribunal has earned name and fame for the Tribunal and both the Government and tax payers are enjoying the impartiality shown by the Tribunal in the administration of justice.”
Hon’bleJustice T.N.C.Rangarajan Former Judge,High Courts of Madras & Andhra Pradesh
“It must be rememberedthat this is the only Tribunal which has stood the test of timeas a career oriented institution. Members serve for more than decades and acquire an expertise unequaled in any sphere. They deal with a constant flow of cases. Clearing the arrears will not solve the problem. The focus should therefore be shifted just clearing arrears to seeing that no taxpayer has to wait more than six months to know his tax liability.
This can be done by taking threesteps.
Clearing repetitive appeals by identifying the question of law and getting it settled by a special bench in a fast track.
Making use of the latest technology for this purpose by networking the benches
Getting cases of Government undertaking referred to arbitration or lokadalat so that they are decided on a case to case basis without becoming a precedent.”
Hon’ble Justice Mr.S. SubramaniVice -Chairman, Central AdministrativeTribunal
“Confidence of the litigant public is foundation of any judicial or quasi -Judicial Tribunal. The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal has achieved this confidence in plenty. The Tribunal is able to satisfy the litigant public which is manned by eminent persons in whom the Trust is imposed. Cheapness, easy accessibility, freedom from technicalities, expeditious way of disposing the cases, approaching the questions in common -sense manner by following the principles of natural justice and avoiding the technical rule of evidencesthe unassuming manner in which its member react, have all added to its reputation. The Tribunal is a worthy Trustee of public.”
Hon’ble JusticeMr. T.D.Sugla, Former Judge Bombay High Court and former President ofITAT – A Former President looks back.
“My association with the Tribunal has been quite long. I started practice as an Advocate at Calcutta in the year 1954. I had my first appearance before the Tribunal. The Tribunal had even then tradition of encouraging juniors and I have no hesitation in admitting that I have been the beneficiary tradition in my first appearance.
It wassoon after this conference (Members conference1986) that a long standing demand of the tax paying public and Chartered accountantswas met in that on authorized weekly publication of the orders of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, by the name ITD was started. Till then a few orders of the Tribunal used to be published in some Tax magazines. Howeverthose would be the orders of Tax counsel would to the publishersfor publication.
During my tenure,I had the fortuneof going around the Country, many a times as a member of the Selection Boardfor the members of the Tribunal. The Selection Board was then constituted Senior sitting Judge of the Supreme Court as Chairman and the Secretary, Ministry ofLaw, Government of India, and the President of the Tribunal as member. I had the privilege of the being the member of the Selection Boardwith three different Law Secretaries and more thanone Supreme Court Judge. I can say without fear of contradiction ensured selection of members with best available Talent. The Tribunal has, it may be stated deserved rich tributes and encomiums paid to it due largely to this method of selection.”
Hon’bleCh. G. Krishna Murthy, Former President of the Tribunal and Member of law Commission of India.
“This Tribunal being Mother Tribunal should not be allowed to suffer from the old age disabilities like arthritis, nor suffer from too much of child bearing. The excellent track record, if to be maintained in future, there must be more incentives, more creative benefitsand be placed higher in status, rank and authority over the officers, from whose orders it hear appeals. The inevitable solution seems to be no other than declaring it as a Tribunal under Article 323(B)of the Constitution.”
Hon’ble Shri M.K Chaturvedi, Vice -President – Tribunal and its Motto “Sulabh NyaySatwar Nyay”
“The hour when the Tribunal was born was apparently an auspicious one, for its growth was rapid. From ab initio,it appears, the public was very much satisfied with the work done by the Members of the Tribunal, their independence, judicialapproachand fairness to both parties, the assesses and department alike. The number of appeals pending before the Tribunal rose from 1607 in 1941-42 to 2,52,047 as on 1-11-2000.”
Shri S.E.Dastur,Senior, Advocate Bombay High Court – My “Ideal Tribunal Member.”
“In today’s time and particularly on account ofthe atmosphere prevailing in our Country, the ideal Member would have to be extremely circumspect about his behavior and conduct. He would subject to himself to certain self -imposed restraints. He would asfar as possible meeting the assessee’s or Departmental representativesalone in his chamber. He would not accept private hospitality or gifts except from relatives and close friends of a standing before he became a Member. He would actively canvas for farming a code of ethics to be observed by the Members of the Tribunal and a machinery for enforcing the same. Such acode of ethicshas been evolved by the Judgesof the High Courts and the Supreme Court and the Tribunal, bearing in mind its high position, should follow suit.”
Shri G. C. Sharma,Senior, Advocate, Delhi High Court -Establishment of the National Court of Direct Taxes – A necessity – “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
“Certainty, finality anduniformity are the hallmarks of any law -more so, of the tax laws. Every tax -payer would like to be sure about the scope and ambit of tax laws, for being able to arrange his financial affairs, in a prudent and pragmatic manner. As it is the frequent and rapid changes in tax laws, at very provocation, in the name of simplification and rationalisationarea nightmare for the tax payer and contribute to welter confusion. Theabsence of uniformity or finality about interpretation of tax lawsfurther adds to his woes. It is in the context of the interpretative uncertainty that the establishment of National Court or Tribunal ( as the case may be ) has assumed importance as the crying need of the hour. It is only through the medium of such a Court /Tribunalthat certainty, finality and uniformity of tax laws can be promoted as ensured. The establishment of such Court can be constitutionally justified under article 323B.”
Shri N.M Ranka,Senior, Advocate,Rajasthan High Court – Appellate Tribunal – A Retrospect.
“Earlier many members used to dictate orders in the open court, just after hearing both the sides, like judges of the Honorable High Court.Orders used to be dictated in the after-noon of date of hearing or latest by Friday, so far as to be available for dispatch within a week or latest by a fortnight. Even appeals involving substantial question of fact or law usedto be dictated or disposed off bythe month end. It is highly desirable to dispose off large number and with expedition. I have seen many Benches earlier used to dispose more than300 appeals over a month. Onevisiting Bench at Jodhpur constituted of Mr. Justice T.N.C.Rangarajan(as a judicial Member of the ITAT) and Mr. Kalyansundaram Present Senior Vice -President, who disposed off more than 550matters with working days less than 14. Appeals were not only heard but dictated, disposed off and orders dispatched. Similar expeditionis demand of the day.
I have the privilege to appear before Delhi Bench in 1954 just after graduation in commerce. The treatment accorded by the Hon’ble Members on my maiden appearance was excellent and encouraging. In order to achieve the motto, it is highly desirable to give appropriate atmosphere to the younger generation and to boost their morale by correcting& regulating silently and with smile. It shall enhance the image of the prestigious Tribunal.”
Shri Arvind H.Dalal, Chartered Accountant, Former President of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India- Tribunalin the new Millennium.
“TheIncome Tax Appellate Tribunal is one of the finest institutions of its kind and it has got an enviable record of justice with rapidly and fairness. As it is functioning under the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs, it is an independent from the Finance Ministry and able to function totally objectively and impartially. It can be said that it is living up to its Motto of “Sulab Nyay and Satwar Nyay “that is “Easy and Quick Justice.”, except that the levy of fees for appeal to the Tribunal has detracted from this position. It has therefore received well deserved Tributes from all quarters from time to time.In the words of the Chief Justice Y.V.Chandrachud expressed at the All India Conference of the Members of the Tribunal held in 1985 :
“The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal occupy a place of honour in the sphere of taxation by reason of the competence and independence of their members, indeed, it would be no exaggeration to say that experiment of setting up Tribunals in our country received its primary impetus and inspiration from the successful functioning of the income -tax Appellate Tribunals.”
Shri B.K. Khare,Chartered Accountant – Tribunal and its motto – “Sulabh Nyay and Satvar Nyay “
“The tax paying public look upon the Tribunal to prevent the excessesat the hands of tax authorities who are in habit of making high pitched assessment and threatening coercive measures for recovery of many times unjust demands and creating impedimentsfor the assesses who are engaged in the creation of wealth.
Sulabh and Satvar Nyaya could be achieved only by a driving will of all those concerned to ensure that dispensation of justice is commonly with ina reasonable time. It will not be impossible to do so if all the institutionsand parties involvedmotivate themselves in believing that the object is achievable with all willingness.
Some times during my infrequent appearances before the Hon’ble TribunalI conclude by saying: Your Honour, I may not be rightbut I am not wrong. Ultimately, what is right or wrong is to be decided by the Supreme Almightyand, therefore,Hon’ble Members of the Bench virtually act a Gods in finding the truthand justice and hence the practice has grown to address as judge as “Your Lordship”. The importance of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal cannot be over emphasisedand at the end of the day taxpaying public and the Tribunal Bar must havea sigh of relief that the Tribunal most of the times and most of the cases has lived up to its reputation for administeringSULABHAND SATVAR NYAY.”
Shri Sukumar Bhattacharya,Advocate, Calcutta High Court – Dispensation of Justice by the Income-Tax AppellateTribunal.
“The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal has been in existence for sixty years now and the excellenceabout its working is universally acknowledged. There have been instances in the past where the interested parties wanted its abolition but tremendous hue and cry raised against such a move by the Bar and the consistent support of the courts of law including the Supreme Court, have ensured that the Tribunal will effectively work in the future also dispensing justice in thee best possible way.
There cannot be any doubt that by and large the Tribunal has establishes a wonderful reputation for disposal of appeals pronouncing intricate issues of facts and law arising in income -tax assessments.
My personal connection with Income -tax dates back to march, 1946. This means that I have been involved with the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal for the entire period of its existence. During this period I have appeared before the Tribunal literally thousands of cases and my experience in the dealings with the Tribunal have always been cordial and interesting.”
Shri M. S. Syali,Senior, Advocate,Delhi High Court – Tribunal DischargingJudicial Functions.
“An institution, which jettisons usages of the Courts and replacesthem with a warm and comfortable vocabulary providinga rewarding experience in point of utility and dispensationof justice isthe Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. It is, in the hierarchy of forums adjudicating direct taxes, the most important clog. The institution has retained successfully its place as final fact finding authority, ever since its inception. Procedural / substantive changes have been effected, but, never one which touches basic feature of its constitution.”
Mr. Rahul Krishna Mitra, Partner, Price Waterhouse & Co, Calcutta – Tribunal in the new Millennium
“The importance of the Tribunal has actually grown tenfold in recent years after the approach road to the Hon’ble High Court has been made narrow by restricting the intervention of the Hon’ble High Court to only substantial questions of lawfrom mere questions of law. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that in several judgementsthat the scope of a substantial question of law is far restricted and limited than a mere question of law. Therefore, far less matters being referred for adjudication before the Hon’ble High Courts. The responsibility of the Tribunal in rendering proper justice is therefore that muchmore today than what it was previously. The verdict of the Tribunal would now be final not only in respect of the factual aspect of a case but also in respect of the principles of law involved therein, wheresuch principles of law do not involve any substantial question of law. It goes without saying that the Tribunal has been shouldering such responsibilitywith great precision and it is the earnest beliefof everybody that the Tribunal would continue to fulfil such responsibility in the new millennium with the same degree of efficiency.”
Dr.K.Shivaram,Senior, Advocate – Tribunal – A Potential Source of Tax Judges in the High Courts.
“In the year 1940 -41 the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal had only 3 Benches, functioning atBombay, Delhiand Madras. as on to day the Income TaxAppellate Tribunal has 53 Bencheswhichfunctions in 24 Cities (As on 1 -1.2021 63 Benchesin 31 Cities). The Income -tax Act, 1961 is the only Central Act, which refers 92 other Central Acts in addition of Rules, notifications, Circulars, amendments are introduced in every year, hence the Income -tax Act is considered one of the most complex subject of our country. The Members of the Tribunal while deciding the tax matters gets an opportunity to study and consider all these Acts.”
Need for elevation of more members o0f Income tax Appellate Tribunal to High Courts.
“Finance Act, 1988 has virtually opened the flood gates where a direct appeal to the High Court is provided under section 260A (w.e.f.1-10 1998) of the Income -tax Act, 1961 against the orders of Tribunalbecause of new provision of direct appeal there is substantial increase in filing of appeals (both by Revenue and the Assessee) to the High Courts. In the year 1999, more thanone thousand appeals are filed before the Bombay High Court. From January 2001,another 5 Benches of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal will start functioning, hence there will be more disposal the filing of appeals before the High Court wouldbe doubled. It is also worth mentioning the appeals will be filed under the provisions of Information Technology Act, (Cyber Tribunal) Foreign Exchange Management Act, Sales Tax Act, Central Excise Act, etc. E. Commerce transaction will also generate litigation in the filed of Interpretation of double taxation Agreements and other related issues. We feel on a conservation estimate, there will be at least 3000 appeals will be filed before the Bombay High Court in every year in various revenue matters. We feel the Members of the Tribunals are most suited to decide these revenue matters. We sincerely suggest that there should at least a Permanent Tax Bench in every High Court to decide the Revenue matters and at least one judge must be from the Income tax Appellate Tribunal.Therefore, the Members of the Tribunal deserve justice for their elevation to High Courts.”
Shri J.P.Shah, Senior, Advocate,Gujarat High Court – The Tribunal, The Central Tax Court and mounting Arrears of cases.
“The idea of Central Tax Court is still being debated! The remedy is being discussed and the disease is aggravating. The most clinching argument in favour of the Central Tax Court is the function of the Tribunal itself. The more we delay the establishment of Central Tax Court, the more the problem of arrearsof pending with the Supreme Court will aggravate.”
Shri K.Sampath Chartered Accountant- Sulabh Nyay SatvarNyay – Quo Vadis.
“The Tribunal’s decisions have had a fantastic and flattering success rate of more than 85% (Approx) before the High Courts and the balance 15% ( Approx) of the cases where the Tribunal’s decisionshave been upset by the High Courts the Tribunal’s verdict has ultimately been endorsed by the Apex Courtin a vast majority of cases.”
Shri N.K PoddarSenior,Advocate,Calcutta, High Court – Dispensation of Justice and discharge of judicial functions by The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.
“Over the years, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has built up a reputation and it is always concerned with speedy, effective, fair and proper administration of justice independently and impartially on a all -important questions of both fact and law. Experience of last 60 years shows that the decisions of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal are rarely interfered with by the High Courts and the Supreme Court in exercise of their reference and /or appellate jurisdiction. This has obviously inspired confidence amongst the general public as well as the tax administration.”
Shri S.P Chowdhury, President, IT Bar Association Calcutta – Tribunal dischargingJudicial Functions.
“Tribunal being a final authority as far as facts are concerned, the Tribunal has to consider and decide all issues that are brought before it. It can not decide only one issue arising out of many issues and decline to go in to the other issues before it on the ground that further issues will not arise in view of the finding on issue already decided by it. If the Tribunal declines to consider and decide the other issue it only delays the proceedings. The aggrieved party has toget the decision by approaching the High Court and thereafter again come before the Tribunal for decision for other issues left undecided earlier. This will amount to multiplication of the proceedings. It is desirable that the Tribunal should avoid disposing of the matters on preliminary issues, without deciding all the issues raised before it and it should as far as possible give its view on all the points raised before it so that the HighCourt have the benefits of its decision on other points also. The Tribunal usually consider all the materials and not only part of it, as observedin Udhavdas Kewalram v. CIT (1967 ) 66 ITR 462 (SC). It is not only the duty of the Tribunal to examine the material facts but also to come to the legal conclusion that the facts do not justify the allowance or disallowance of an expenditure ( as mentioned in CIT v. Turner Morrison &Co P.Ltd (1974) 93 ITR 385 ( Cal ) (HC)”
Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – Golden Jubilee Souvenir -1991 –25th January,1991
Honourable Ch. G. Krishnamurthy, President Income Tax Appellate Tribunal
“The vent of completion of 50 years of its existence was celebrated in a befitting manner all over the country on 25 th January, 1991, the response to which wasreally overwhelming. As a fitting finaleto our celebrations and with a view to have introspection to improve our performance further, we have requested the legal celebrities in our vast land to contribute their thoughts to bring then out in a Souvenir. These legal celebritieshad willingly and generously contributed several articles on important and relevant topics. The response to our request was so overwhelming that withoutexceptionevery one of the persons approached, contributed an article. Buton account of the restrictionson spaceand volume, we regret we have not been able to publishall but 26 of them. Weapologies to those, whose articles we have not been able to publish though those articles areworth their weight in gold in thought and content.”
Shree K.K. Venugopal, Senior Advocate -Access to Justice the Indian Experience
“Any number of laws may be passed by the legislaturesfor the welfare of the people but if non-implementation of the same cannot be remedied except 10 or 15 years, then surely the judicial system itself needs drastic overhaul.
It is unfortunate that Governments have not been setting apart the necessary funds in the financial budgets for expanding the Court system to keep space with veritable litigation explosion. The advance planning that Governments do in the regard to the economy generally, including the industries run by it for meeting the increasing demands for its products is absent when it comes to the area of litigation which, by and large, receives a step -motherly treatment at the hands of the Government.”
Shri Nani A. Palkhivala , Senior, Advocate – The maddening instability of Income -tax law.
“On 25 th January 1991 the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal completed fifty years of its existence. On its Golden Jubilee it is but fair to record that it has won golden opinions on all sides throughout the half a century that it has functioned. There is no doubt that over this long period, the Tribunal has been manned by some very able individuals. Quite a few of them were fit to be adorn any High Court Bench. No other Tribunal in India has won such well deserved popularity and confidence of the public as Income -tax Appellate Tribunal.
Taxes are the life -blood of any government, but it cannot be over-emphasisedthat theblood is taken from the arteries of the tax payers, and therefore, the transfusion has to be accomplished in accordance with the principle of justice and fair pay “.
India is waitingfor a Finance Minister who will have the courage, caliber and vision to put a stop to the maddening instability of our income -tax law.”
“Let us never forget the wise words Justice Hughes who observed that no democracy can survive without respect for laws and Institutions, but in a free democracy laws and institutions will command only that degree of respect which they deserve.”
Hon’ble Justice Y.V. AnjaneuluFormer Judge, Andhra Pradesh High Court, Presently Member, Law Commission.
“It will, therefore, be seen that the dispensation of justice through Tribunals is a part of the legal system of all civilized countries. That it has taken rapid strides in India in the Post -War Period, is a matter of immense satisfactionbecause justice is administered through Tribunals cheaply, expeditiouslyand more effectively. If the functions of the quasi – judicial Tribunals, as they exist to day, are dischargedby ordinary courts of law, the entire judicial system would have been chaos without the individuals knowing where they stand vis -a -vis the State in the matter of disputes.
The Commission then examined the legislative competence and observed that “Entry 95in the Union Listdealing with the jurisdiction and powers of court, comprehended both the creation of courts, conferment of power and jurisdiction or extinguishment thereof “. The Commission, therefore opined that Entry 95 enables the Parliament to deal with the jurisdiction of a High Court. Therefore, on a conspectus of all these entries, Parliament will have the power by law to set up a “Central Tax Court “or National Court of Direct Taxes “. TheCommission further observed : The Commission is of the firm opinion that such a Central Tax Court should not be a Tribunal but a Court of Appeal with all its trapping and having an all -India Jurisdiction. Those who have favoured to set up aNational Tribunal under Article 323-B appeared to have over looked the fact that suitable legislation will have to be enacted for that purpose. If law has to be enacted, it would be comparatively advantages to set up a Central Tax Courtrather than a Tribunal envisaged by Article 323-B. Now that is intended to confer jurisdiction on the proposed Central Tax Court to deal with constitutionality of tax jurisdiction on the proposed Central Tax Court to deal with constitutionality of a Statute or subordinate legislation. This approach may, as awhole, defeat the charge of Tribunalisation of justice. Therefore, the Commission is of the firm opinion that a Central Tax Court / National Tax Court of Direct Taxes be set up under an Act of Parliament having all -India jurisdiction.”
The Commission hastened add in para 2. 29:
“There is near unanimity of opinion that Income -tax Appellate Tribunal has immensely justified its existence andlargely vindicated the trust reposed in it. It has therefore, to be retained with its regional jurisdiction. It would be the last fact finding authority.”
Hon’ble Shri P.K. Kartha, Vice -Chairman (Central AdministrativeTribunal) -Tribunals as Temples of Justice -A Survey.
“The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) is one of the oldest Temples of Justice in our country. The older the temple, the greater is its sanctityand reverence”
Hon’ble Shri GeorgeCheriyan Senior Vice -President (Retd) Income -Tax Appellate Tribunal. – Jurisdictional Superintendence by the Income -Tax Appellate Tribunal overassessments under the Direct Taxes Acts.
Principle of natural justice – The right to fair hearing.
“It is a fundamental principle, that an assesse’sdefence should be fairly heard and is considering whether the principles of natural justice have been adhered to or not, the Tribunalconstantly reminds itself of the observations of Megharry, J. Johan v. Rees which is the law of land having approved of by the Supreme Court of India inS.L.Kapoor v. Jagmohan ( 1980) 4 SCC P. 379 and reiterated in Swadeshi Cotton Mills v UOI ( 1981) SCC 664 ( 708)which state:-
“It may be that there are some who would deny the importancewhich the courts attach to the observance of the rules of natural justice. Those who take this view do not do themselves justice as everybody who has anything to do with the law well knows, the path of the law is strewn with examples of open and shut cases which, somehowwere not, of unanswerable charges which in the ultimate event, were completely answered, of inexplicable conduct which was fully explained, and fixed and unalterable determinations,that by discussion suffered a change. Nor are those with any knowledge of human nature who pause to think for a movement like to underestimate the feelings of resentment of those who find that a decision against them has been made without their being afforded any opportunity to influence the course of events.”
Shri K.H.Kaji, Advocate, Gujarat High Court.- Central Tax Court
“With the mounting arrears of tax matters at the High Courts and the Supreme Court and the paucity of and even absence of the tax judges in the High Courts, the desirability, if not the necessity, of a Central Tax Court requires immediate consideration. It appears that the proposal for establishing a Central Tax Court has received administrative and financial approval and such a Court maycome to be established in thevery near future.”
Nature of its jurisdiction.
“In my opinion, the Tax Court should be conferred complete jurisdiction to deal with tax matters, both assessment and recovery, as well as constitutional challenge to the provisions of the Tax Laws. Thereforethe jurisdiction of the Tax Court should comprise the following :
(1) Appeal from the decisionsof the Income -tax Tribunal.
(2) Direct petitions under Article 226 for writs of certiorari, mandamus, etc, including challenge to the vires of the Act or Rules for recovery steps.
(3) A general reference on a question of law by the Tribunal as a case stated.”
Shri Leif Muten Senior Advisor, Fiscal Affairs Department International Monetary Fund -The Role of Tax Judiciary in Developing Countries.
“Celebrating the Golden Jubileeof the Income Tax Tribunal, it seems a bit inappropriate to talk about developing countries. After all, tax -wise, India can claim to have reached a high level of development with regard both to the sophistication of its tax legislation and to the structural development of its tax system. Moreover, the traditionally high level of staff training and the competence requirement for entrants make for a tax administration that has a good offering technical assistance in countries needing it.”
Shri D.A.Van Waardenburg, Executive Director International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation Netherland (IBFD) – Remedies for a Taxpayer under a Civil Law System : The Netherlands.
“A Dutch taxpayer has a large number of possibilities to redress his situation he feel that he has incorrectly been treated by the tax authorities. The large majority of cases is dealt with by the basic judiciary acting as administrative court. Where this route cannot be addressedhe may turn to the basic judiciary in his capacity as civil court or State Council. Other courts to which he has access and which are influential are European Court of Justice (EC Court of Justice )and the European Court of Human Rights. Finally, he may request the support of the ombudsman or a parliamentary committee.”
ShriS.Rajarathnam, Advocate, Former Member of ITAT- Tax Tribunals – Some Random Reflections.
Collective Wisdom is a Special Trait of the Tribunal
“A special trait of the Income -tax Tribunal is that it has the services of expertise of both from accountancy and legal professions. Members of either professionmay cone either from service or practice. In the result, there is a welcome blend of rich experience in administrationof tax laws and practionersof the law. Ordinarily, both the members of the Bench actively contribute to the deliberations during the hearing and to the final judgement. There are quite a few differences which indicate, the healthy trend of active participation of both the members. This need to be pointed out to because the absolute absence of such difference except in rarest of rare cases in other Forumsespecially in High Courts sometimes leads to the belief among the litigants that one Member of the Bench is a sleeping partner mutely subscribing to the judgment without necessarily consenting to the same.
The fact that both the Members actively participate during the hearing is not hindering the conduct of the case as it is left by convention to the Senior Member to conduct the hearing with the result, matters relating to adjournments and other procedural matters are ordinarily left to be decided by Senior Member except in rare cases, where the Junior Member may have some good reason to persuade his senior to alter his decision. Seniority is not otherwise mistaken for superiority.
These random reflections on the occasion of Golden Jubilee celebrations are placed before all those who are interested in the institution of the Tribunal on one way or other out of desire to see that there is further improvement in the functioning of one of the best administered and manned institutions among the judicial bodies in the country”
Hon’ble D. Rangaswamy, Former President of ITAT – A Survey of evolution of the functions of the Tribunal.
“The Appellate Tribunal has to act judicially in the sense that it has to consider with due care all material facts in favour of and against the assessee and record its finding on all the contentions raised by the assessee and the Commissioner in the light of the evidence and the relevant law; an order recorded on a review of only part of the evidence and ignoring the remaining evidence cannot be regarded as conclusively determining the question of fact raised before the Tribunal.
There is also a self -imposed convention which has to be observedby the members constituting the Bench. It appears there is a booklet which contains information on ‘ Conventions and other useful guidelines‘ to the Membersof the Tribunal by Dr.Narayanan. This is a step forward because earlier the new members had to seek the guidance and advice of seniors on the question of observance of conventions. More than that these conventions may not create fiction such as dress regulation, procedure for entering in to Court Hall and other areas of decorum like following the orders of other Benches of the Tribunal on identical matters on facts and on law. Even on this part of the convention there is need to adhere to the discipline of following precedents and should by and large be maintained. Perhaps a Seminar which had been initiated very thoughtfully and successfullyby the President may be repeatedly done and the monitoring of the same be done periodically.”
Shri D.A.Upponi, Former Member ITAT – Income -Tax Appellate Tribunal ( Jurisdiction and powers )
“It would be no exaggeration to say that 25 th January1941 was a red letter day in the annals of Administrative Law in Indiawhen the sapling of a Tribunal was planted and which has later become a mighty banyan tree with over 38 branches spread over the length and breadth of India.
The first decision that comes to my mind is that of the Supreme Court in the case of Hukumchand Mills Ltd v.CIT (1967 )63 ITR 232 (SC). The Supreme Court had occasion to remark that thepowers of the Appellate Tribunal in dealing with appeals, are expressed in widest possible terms. The word “thereon “as found in section 33(4) of the Indian Income Tax Act(Comparable to section 254(1) of the Income -tax Act, 1961), was duly considered. It was observed by the Supreme Court that expression “Pass such orders thereon as it thinks fit “does assimilate the powers of the Tribunal to those of the First Appellate Authority and as wide as the latter except for the power of enhancement. The Tribunal has authority under section 33 of the Indian Income Tax Actto direct the lower authorities to hold further inquiry and to dispose of the case on the basis of such inquiry.”
Dr. V.Balasubramanian, M.A.Ph.D ( Law)LL.D., Dip., P.A, Former Vice -Presidentof ITAT. – ITAT -ASuccess experiment in administrative adjudication.
“Historically since the ordinary courts could not cater to all adjudicatory needs of the citizens judicialization of the administrative process itself had inevitably started in pre-independent India. By the time the country gained independence there was already a good basis for administration of justice through tribunals ; and we had a unique system of justice by tribunals not found in other countries. The peculiar historical development of the Tribunal system in our country though different tribunals were createdat different timesand for different purposes, has tended to create a greater amount of similarity and uniformity in these institutions. When Independent India opted for further increase in the number of Tribunalsthe already existing pre-independent thinking in favour of Tribunalsas an alternative to courts helped this tendency.
It is against the above background that we have to look at the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal – an institution which has completed fifty years of its existence and which is one of the best functioning Tribunals in the country. Fifty years is a long period in the history of an institution created to cater to the surging demands of a fastmoving welfare state.”
Honourable Shri Rajiv Gandhi,Former Prime Minster of India.(4-3-1985)
“… Income -tax is a major source of revenue. It is also a direct token of the citizen’s contribution to the development of the country. Over the years, tax laws have grown in complexity and with it has grown the need for fair and dispassionate interpretation of the laws. The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal has made a useful contribution in this filed.”
Hon’ble Shri T.D. SuglaPresident Income tax Appellate Tribunal.
“The Tribunal expresses its gratitude and indebtedness to all those who have contributed material for publication in the souvenir. It was indeed very kind of them to have spared their precious time. The Tribunal is also grateful to all those who have kindly sent their messages and good wishes on the occasion.”
Mrs Indira Gandhi Former Prime Minster of India
“The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal,with its branches spread all over the country has an important role. It has to preserve the interests of revenues to the State, to prevent harassmentto the tax -payers and to render better serviceand quicker justice to the citizen and State alike.”
Hon’ble Shri Y.V.ChandrachudFormer Chief Justice of India
“.. The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal is a model administrative Tribunal whose illustrious example and commendable performance may well be emulated by similar other Tribunals in different disciplines. There isuniform praise of the manner in which the Tribunal functions and I suppose it is one of the few quasi -legal institutions which is not plagued by the problem of arrears.”
Speech preparedbefore his sad demise on 26 th June, 1981 by the late Mr.Muhammad Munir, Former Chief Justice of Pakistan and founder President of the Tribunalfor the inaugural session of the Conference.
“The work before the Tribunal was quite easy. Most of the appeals were by petty traders where for want of maintenance ofstock register, accounts were rejected and section 13 had to be applied. We had to determine in what case maintenance of stock register was necessaryand what were the Income -tax officer’s powers to apply section 13. We suggested some guidelines to produce an equitable result. I had the assistance of Mr.Seghal and Mr.Malhotra in this.”
“We noticed that most of the appeals were from small towns and there were few appeals from the Commercial Centers like,Hyderabad, Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Delhi and Amritsar. I arranged a tour to these places and found the revenue which should have come to Government was going in to the income -tax Officer’s pockets. I reportedthisto the Government which took certain steps and the number of appeals from these places increased.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice A.C.GuptaJudge, Supreme Court of India
“Income -tax Appellate Tribunal has earned confidence of the citizens by the way it has been discharging its responsibilities over the years.”
Hon’ble Mr. Justice D.A.Desai, Judge, Supreme Court of India
“Every institution has a personality, motive, objects and direction. A purposeful existence of any institution necessarily requires a continuous, watchful appraisal of its role, functioning, achievementsand defaults. Once an institution is created for definite objects in view,occasionally the goals become blurred and the institution became static, and in the end it becomes counterproductive. As in the life of an individual so in the life of an institution re -adjustments of goals, priorities, methodology offunctioningand evaluation of performanceare the sine qua non.
Income -tax Appellate Tribunal can confidently look back on its performance of humanising a tough law. However, in the onward march of nation, industrialisationmarching apace, complex tax problem are surfacing. Constitutional goals have provided guidelines.”
Hon’bleMr.JusticeA.K. Sen, Judge, Supreme Court of India
“By its performance the Tribunal has succeeded in inspiring confidence both of the Government and the Citizens. The work done by the Tribunal has to a great extent lessened the burden of the Courts.”
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Alladi Kuppuswamy, Chief Justice, Andhra Pradesh High Court.
“I have no doubt that there will be a fruitful discussion on the ways and means of improving the performance of the Tribunal and to see that justice is rendered to the litigants expeditiously.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice V.S.Deshpande, Chief Justice, Bombay High Court.
“The Tribunal is manned by persons who are experienced either in law or in accountancy. Because of being independent of the Income -tax machinery, they can have an objective view of the controversies raised by the assesses before them.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice Prakash Narain, Chief Justice, Delhi High Court
“I must compliment the Tribunal for having dispensed justice most impartially and keeping in view the interest of both the Revenue and the Assessee.TheTribunal has made valuable contribution to the Income -tax law and some of its judgements have been outstanding.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice D. PathakActing Chief Justice, Gauhati High Court.
“The span of four decades of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal is not merely a measure of its staturebut its is the tradition which has been built up by this institution.”
Hon’ble Mr. JusticeD.M. Chandrashekhar, Chief Justice Karnataka High Court.
“It is well-known saying that thestrength of the judiciary consists in the confidence it commands from people. Ultimately Judges are judged by people. The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal has undoubtedly commanded the confidence of both assesses and the Revenue. It can justly be proud of its record during these forty years. It has served as a model to other Appellate Tribunals.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice P.R. Gokulakrishna, Officiating Chief Justice, Madras High Court.
“The usefulness of this Institution is felt by every one and it is discharging its functions to the utmost satisfaction of the Government machinery and also citizens in particular.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice R.N. Misra, Chief Justice, Orissa High Court.
“Undoubtedly, the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal has been, on the whole, working, to the satisfaction of all concerned and we are happythat forty years of its existence.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice G.P. Singh, Chief Justice, Madhya Pradesh High Court and Currently Acting Governor, State of Madhya Pradesh.
“The Tribunal has the reputation of being fair and impartial and it has been disposing of the cases coming to it with reasonable speed. The Tribunal has thus gained confidence of both the Government and the taxpayer.”
Hon’ble Mr.JusticeK.N.ShuklaJudge Madhya Pradesh High Court.
“My brief stint as Judicial Memberof the Tribunal enabled me to appreciate the part of it has to play in the decision-making process. Sometimes the stakes are very happy, running into millions of rupees. The Tribunal has by and large remained uninfluenced by any pulls and pressures and has been imparting justice without fear or favour.”
Hon’ble Mr. Justice A.K.Sarkar, Former Chief Justice of India.
“The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal has all along been doing excellent work and has acquired a great tradition for its judicial work of which any judicial body would be proud.”
Hon’bleMr.JusticeH.R.Khanna, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India.
“The Tribunal has played a notable part in resolving the disputes which inevitably arise between the Department and the citizens in the matter of their assessments. By and large the Tribunal has inspired confidence by its senseof fairness.”
Hon’ble Shri Harman Shankar, Former President, Income -tax Appellate Tribunal.
“With the passage of years the Tribunal has built up a personality and a tradition which have earned for it the respect and confidence of the tax payers, Tax Practioners and alsoof the Government. It is well recognized that the Tribunal is not trammeled in its work by formalities of procedure and legal, technicalities, and this has enabledit to further the interests of justice. The Tribunal has been exhibiting judicial commonsense, broad, liberal spirit and sturdy independence, combined with patience and courtesy and aboveall a human approach brought to hear on the problems before it.”
Dr.L.M.Singhvi, Senior Advocate, New Delhi
“The Tribunal has earned a well deserved reputation for independence and impartiality which is the hallmark of a successful judicial institution.”
Shri Shyam Nath Kacker, Senior Advocate, New Delhi, Former Union Minster.
“I have no hesitation in saying that this is one of the Tribunalswhich has equally inspiredthe confidence of the Assessee and the revenue.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice S.RanganathanJudge Delhi High Court – The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – A Survey
Emergence of the Concept of an Appellate Tribunal
“The idea of setting up an appellate tribunal was first mooted in the Income -tax Enquiry Report, 1936 submitted to the Government of India, as a result of the investigation in to the Indian Income -tax system, conducted by Rai Bahadur J.B.Vachha, Commissioner of Income -tax, Bombay and Messrs C.W. Ayresand S.P.Chambers of the Board of Inland Revenue of the United Kingdom. They considered that the desire of the assessee to be able to appeal to an independent body on important questions of fact was wide -spread and not un reasonable. They recommended that an all -India tribunal should be set up, consisting of six persons chosen by the Governor -General -in -Council, to hear appeals on questions of fact or law against the decisions of the Appellate Assistant Commissioners. They also considered that the subjectto the condition that at least two members should be persons who had acted as High Court judges for at least three years, the choice of the GovernorGeneral -in -Council should be unfettered by statute. They were opinion that it would be desirable to include two persons who had wide experience in the Income -tax Department and two with accountancy and business experience.One Tribunal for the whole of India was envisaged with the members visiting various places,on circuit, depending upon the volume of thework. The Committee also recommended that the Tribunal’s decisions,on questions of fact, should be final but that its on questions of law should be subject to an appeal to the Privy Council.”
The Birth of the Tribunal
“25 th January 1941 was notified as the appointed date on which Chapter II-Awas to come in to force. In exercise of the powers conferred by the said section, the Central Government, in the first instance, appointed four members,on a tenure basis on five yearcontracts. Themembers to be appointed met initially in New Delhi under the designation of Special Officers for a period of one month during which the rules of the Tribunal were framed and the places of sitting decided upon. The rules were promulgated on 1-2 -1941.
Four members were appointed on 25 -1-1941. The two judicial members, were Mr. Mohd. Munir, who was to be President, and Mr.Ram PrasadVerma. Two accountantmembers wereShri P.C.Malhotra and Shri A.L Saghal. On 24 -2.1941, two more persons were appointed. Shri P.N.S.Aiyar was appointed as accountant member. Shri R. Satyamurti Aiyar who was also appointed judicial,died soon after and was succeeded to by Shri R.Gandhi,”
Shri Y.V. Anjaneyulu, Senior Advocate, Hyderabad, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal – A Stock taking
“Rights from its inception the Income -tax Appellate Tribunalhas been swiftly andcompetently moving on rails. The Members constituting this Tribunal have been chosenwith great care. Persons possessing great expertise have been chosen from the Bar, accountancy profession and from within the Income -tax Department. These persons selected as Members brought years of rich experience and expertise to the Tribunal Benches in the country demonstrated over the years that in the speedy and efficient settlement of disputes between the State and the subjectsarising in the administration of what can, without any fear of contradiction, be described as highly complicated and most technical laws of this country. The Income -tax Tribunal is second to none. The competence and efficacy of an institution of justice are not merely judged by the one nice and polite judges sitting on the Benches but by (i) the correct and quick understanding of the nature of disputes between the State and the subject. (ii) the proper analysis of the disputed facts, (iii) the correct application of the law governing the matters in dispute and (iv) finally the ability to write an order clearly expressing the views both on facts and law and arrive at proper conclusion. Happilyextreme care was taken to select persons possessing these essentialcharacteristics as Members constituting several Benches of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal right from the inception and this largely accounted for the success and popularity of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal. Among the hierarchy of the Administrative Tribunals in this country. It must be said to the credit of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal that the High Courts and the Supreme Court in this country show high reward to the orders passed by the Tribunalanddo not interfere with the orders under Reference, unless a serious error of law is committed. Speaking generally, learned Judges of the High Courts and Supreme Court are full of praise for the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal and its orders.
It is not perhaps not out of place to refer to the following observations of the Manohar Lall J. of the Patna High Court in Khan Bahdur M. Hanibur Rahman v. CIT (1945) 13 ITR 189, at,194 :
“I desire to express my appreciation of the order of the Appellate Tribunal dated 17-8 1943 which is to be commended for clearness of articulation and lucid expression.”
This is a Tribute paid so soon after the establishment of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal. During the past four decades the quality of the orders of the Tribunal has improved so well that the commendation of Manohar Lall, J in 1945 would more true now.”
Shri C.C.Chokshi Chartered Accountant Bombay – Dispensation of Justice by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.
“After the first 15 years of the existence of the Tribunal,occasion for review of its functioning arose when the Law Commission reported on the Indian Income -Tax Act 1922, in its Twelfth Report. The Law Commission of India had gone to the extent of recommending in its Report that the Appellate Tribunal should be abolished and that a direct appeal should be provided on both on facts as well as on law to the High Court from the order of the Appellate Assistant Commissioner of Income -tax.
As against this view, recently the Union Law Minister has commended the work of Tribunals in various spheres and supported the extension of such Tribunal is to reduce the work load on Courts and to dispense quick justice at lowest possible cost.
Asobserved by the Direct Tax Laws Committee in its interim Report:
There has been a general appreciation of the functioning of the Tax Tribunals both on the part of the public at large and the Government.”The Tribunal has been living up to the expectation of all concerned as can be seen from the number of cases which are finally settled at the level of the Tribunal and the number pursued further before the Courts of our Country.”
Shri Nadirshsh R.Mulla, Solicitor, Bombay – Reminiscences about the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.
“Before the ITAT was established, the procedure and practice followed in disposal of tax cases was more or less routine in as much as :
(a) The Appellate Assistant Commissioner in a majority of the cases decided against the assessee;
(b) The assessee went in revision to the commissioner of Income -tax who also in a majority of cases decided against the assessee ; and
(c ) When an application was made to the Commissioner for a Reference to the High Court in about 50 per cent of the cases the Application for Reference was refused on the ground that the question raised was a question of factand not of law.”
“In the beginning the Office of the Tribunal was situated at Delhi. Shortly thereafter, the office of the Tribunal was shifted to Bombay.”
Shri N.A.Palkhivala, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court – Forty Years of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal
“The Tribunal functions as a judicial body under the Ministry of law and entirely beyond the control of the Income -tax Department. Happily, it is fully insulated from the pressures and influences of both bureaucrats and politicians. The Tribunal has shown great independence and courage in deciding cases according to law and in consonance with justice, regardless of the stakes involved. In short, it has fulfilled the purpose for which it was brought in to existence and fully justified the high expectations with whichit was conceived.“
“While ten of thousands of appeals are instituted in the Tribunal every year, about 90 per cent of them do not go on reference to the High Court. The Tribunal’s judgements on point of law are upheld on over two-thirds of the references heard by the various High Courts.“
“There is no doubt that over the period of 40 years the Tribunal manned by some very able men. Quite a few of them would be fit to adorn any High Court Bench. No other Tribunal in India has won such well- deserved popularity and confidence of the public as the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal.”
Shri N.K.P. SalveM.P., Chartered Accountant- Performance worthy of Accurate Chronicling – A Tribute.
“The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal has contributed a lion’s share in creating a merciful state of affairs, in which administration of direct taxes still enjoys a fair degree of creditability, amongst honest tax payers. Thee income -tax Appellate Tribunal on account of its unrelenting endeavor unimpeachable integrity, fear less and even alert superintendence over tax department and abundant justice to the harassed tax payers who seek its protection, has earned unparalleledesteemas an AppellateTax Court. The Tribunal has given no less relief to the Income -tax Departmentfrom being thrown in to a maze woven by the taxpayers than it has to taxpayers in appeal.”
Shri Jagdish Chand Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes.- The Appellate Tribunal – A Retrospect.
“Forty years of existence for any institution should give an opportunity for taking stock of its achievements and shortcomings. In all fairness it could be said that the Appellate Tribunal has been able to achieve confidence of tax payers in its fair play and objectively to a large extent. In the process, tax administration system has achieved finality in alarge number of assessments at the level of Tribunal. This is more so because the tax administration has tried to accept the administrative justice rendered by the Tribunal in a large number of cases.”
Shri B.L.Pal, Senior Advocate -In retrospect.
“The reasons for the continuance of the Tribunal pointed out by the Direct Taxes AdministrationEnquiry Committee ( the Tyagi Committee ) in para 4.14 (P.81 ) of its Report have became far more weighty after more than two decadessince its publication at the end of 1959. At the same time the criticism made by the Committee about the methods and proceduresof work of the Tribunal also not lost its force today. The Committee’s suggestions on this point in para 4.18 (P. 84 ) are worth quoting here :
“As far as possible, the Tribunal should give reasoned and detailed orders giving full facts and findings so that clear picture of the issue involved, the arguments advanced and the conclusions arrived at would emerge.The difficulties experienced by the Department and the assesses would be reduced if greater attention is paid by the Tribunal to this aspect of the problem. This would also meet to a great extent the criticism levelled by the Law Commission. Once the Tribunal succeeds in inspiring confidence in the minds of tax- paying public about its competence and impartiality by the manner in which it conducts itself, the tax payer will have much less occasion for seeking further judicial review of its orders. (words italicised in the report)
“It is my experience gathered during more thanthirty years that while most of the members of the Tribunal always follow the standard recommended by the Tyagi Committee, about the other members the criticism still holds good -that “the determination of complicated questions of fact and law is done in a perfunctory manner.”
Hon’ble,Shri Hariram Sahnkar, Former President, Income -tax Appellate Tribunal.– Some random thoughts.
“Having been part of the organization for almost 17 years, first as a Member and finally as President for four years. I had the occasion to be intimately associated with its working procedures, traditions and,if I may say soshort -comings also. While one cannot expect any organization to be completelyfree from any short coming, it can safely be stated without fear of contradiction that the Tribunal by and large has over the decades been functioning in an exemplary manner, its performance being characterisedby expectation, fairness and a keen desire to do justice between the Revenue and the Tax payer.”
Hon’ble Shri H.M.Jhala, Member, Monopolies & Restrictive Trade Practice Commission, New Delhi.
“My reminiscences of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunalare extremely happy ones. During the period of fourteen years that I worked in the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal for twelve years as a Member and for the last two years as Vice-President, it was threatened thricewith thatthen Attorney -General of India called assassination, once by the Law Commission, another time by then Chief Justice of Indiaand third time by the then Finance Minster. It speaks volumes of its resilience, inherent merit and its capacity to meet the prime need of the people, that it survived all three onslaughts from these influential quarters.”
Hon’ble JusticeMr. D.R.Khanna, Delhi High Court – My years in the Tribunal
“One most remarkable feature of the working of the Tribunal revealed the swiftness with which the wheels of justice moved. There weren’t much beating around the bush. Problems were dealt with preciously and squarely, and the arguments addressed, forthright, down to the earth and to the point. There was nothing of what generally is termedthat long argumentsare reflective of or shrouding up of weak cases. The average daily disposal of a Bench ranged from six to eight cases and hearing more often than not were over before lunch break, leaving enough time for dictation in the afternoon. What a contrast to some of the Courts where a single case itself take six to eight days it not more to mature.”
Honouarble Shri D.Rangaswamy, Former President Looks back
“I must consider myself fortunate in having served the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal as one of its Members from December, 1966 to December 1980, during which period unique and important events have taken place.“
“The appearance of the doyens and veterans of the profession like Mr. Palkhivala, Mr.Mulla and Mr.G.P.Kapadia before me for the first time did not create any awe in my mind as I had regulated my mind againstany such reaction. I knew that if the mind gets overawed, it would not be possible to hear their learned arguments in the right perspective. But I concentrated on listening to them with a viewto get educated by their marvelous presentation of facts and arguments.”
Hon’ble Mr.Justice V.Seturaman, Madras High Court.- The Tribunal as I see it over the years.
“I joined the Tribunal in June,1960, there were then 12 Benches with total pendency of about, 2000 cases. The growth of tax revenue, the enactment of other direct tax laws and complexity, some timesof the provisions have all been responsible for the increase in the volume of its work. When I left the Tribunal in February, 1974there were around 70000 cases for disposal. The sanctioned strength was then,as now 38 Benches.
Hidayatulla, C.J.gave expression to the fact that the tax cases require application of other laws. The tax cases have been responsible for decisions of importance on Hindu law, Partnershiplaw etc. The impression that lurks in certain quarters that a Member working in the Tribunal is familiar only with the tax lawsis thus removed from reality.
One aspect which deserves mention is that when a person is appointed to the Tribunal whether from the profession or from service, he or she is posted more often than not, to a Bench in a different State. The result is that his work goes unrecognised in his own State. Persons recruited form the State Judicial service are at the time of confirmation, required to serve their ties in their parent service. This is purely a technical requirement,as a person cannot be simultaneously borne in two services. But as a result of the termination of the lien, they are left out of consideration when their chance for appointment to the High Court arises.If this phenomenon is allowed to continue, it may happen that competent persons even from the State Judiciary would not find it worthwhile to apply, with the consequence that the Tribunal attracts only those who do not have anything to look forward to their own State. It may also happen that person who were not selected by the Committee and who had, therefore, to continue in the present service, score a much over a person found fit for appointment in the Tribunal. This aspect does not have engaged the consideration it deserve.”
(Members Conference -29-10-1977 )
Hon’ble Shri P.N.Bhagwati Former Judge Supreme Court of India.
“… This Tribunal has been in existence for over 35 years and during this period it acquired high prestige and reputation not only amongst the lawyers practicing before it but also amongst the assesses as well as the department. It has been able to inspire confidence in the public mind in regard to its caliber, integrity and independence.”
Hon’ble Shri R.S.Pathak Former Judge Supreme Court of India
“… The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal is an outstandingexample in this country of what an Appellate Tribunal should be. It has developed traditions over yearswhich have uniformly inspired public confidence, not only by the high quality of adjudication but also by the expeditious manner in which disposing of its work.”
Hon’ble Shri M.H Beg, Former Chief Justice of India.
“The judgements of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunals are not only generally marked by sound legal reasoning but also exhibit considerable commonsenseand realism. Indeed, I confess that have been so much impressed by some of the judgementsof the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal that I wonder whether so much legal learning, which we some times see in the judgments of the superior courts, is really needed for many decisions. Indeed, some times it can mislead and obstruct clear thinking.”
Ist November, 1976
Hon’ble Shri H.R.Gokhale, Union Law Minister
(Lokasabha debates (18th Session on the Constitution(42ndAmendment Bill)
“I have got an example of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal. We have judicial members, we have the accountant members. The Tribunal is functioning extremely well and even those people who have gone before the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal have told me and have spoken on the public platform that the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal as it constituted to day, is the best example to show the Tribunals, if properly constituted, can create confidence. I can say that the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal ‘s decisions are rarely interfered with by the High courts and the Supreme Court because the quality of their work has been found to be sufficiently good as to inspire confidence.”
1941 -1966– Silver Jubilee – Souvenir -23rdApril1966.
Hon’ble Shri T.P.Mukerjee President of the Income tax Appellate Tribunal- The Tribunal
“The work of the Tribunal came up for a review in one form or another by several committees and commissionsin the course of these 25 years. The Income-tax Investigation Commission appointed in 1947 examined the working of the Tribunal with special emphasis on its terms of reference which were to examine the extent to which the existing law relating to and procedure for the assessment and collection of taxes were adequate to prevent evasion thereof.The important among the recommendations which it made in connection with the income -tax Appellate Tribunal and which were accepted by the Government werethe proposal to refer a point of law arising from the orderof the Tribunal directly to the Supreme Court for opinion in cases where conflict existed between the decisions of two High Courts and the recommendation to give both Department and the assessee the right to submit cross objections when they have not filed appeals and are only respondents in appeals filed by other party.The Taxation Inquiry Commission appointed in 1953 -54 also had an occasion to examine the working of the Tribunal indirectly, but by reason its term of reference it could not go in to the details of the major aspects of the functioning of the Tribunal. The Law Commission of India in its 12 th report, which was concerned with the Income -tax Act, recommended the abolition of the Tribunal. The Direct Taxes Administration Inquiry Committee appointed in 1958, however, examined in detail theworking and recommended that the Appellate Tribunal Could not be dispensed with and should continue.”
Hon’ble Dr. SarvepalliRadhakrishnan, Former President ofIndia
“Born as the Tribunal was, out of the strong and natural desire of the people to be able appeal to an independent body on important questions of fact, it provides a popular and informal forum for giving substantial justice, not bound by the rules of evidence, to persons aggrieved by decisions, of the Appellate Assistant Commissioners. TheTribunal, in the 25 years of its existence, has earned unstinted praise for the independence of its decisions; and its fervent desire to do justice it has won well merited confidence of the public.”
Hon’ble Shri.G.S.Pathak, Minster of Law, (Former Vice -President of India)
“The Tribunal deals with complicated cases in which mostly the interests of the business and commercial world are involved and I am happy to say that the Tribunal has discharged its duties fairly well. With the increasing pace of indutrialisationand economic development, the Tribunal may, in times to come, to be faced with more and more complicated questions relating to taxation and other financial matters and I am confidentthat the Tribunal will not be found wanting in tackling those problems.”
Hon’ble Shri M.C. Setalvad, Senior Advocate,Bombay High Court, Former Attorney General for India.
“I did a good deal of work before the Appellate Tribunal in its early days and will not forget the quick despach with it disposed of complicated tax cases untrammeledby technical considerations which often hamper the Courts of law in dealing with such matters. I understand that the Tribunal has since maintained the same traditional approach and its popularity can be judged by the voices of protest recently raised against the suggestion that it should be substituted by a Bench of the High Court. I feel that the Tribunal will command even greater confidence in the public eye if appointments to it are made on the recommendation of Judicial bodies like the Supreme Court or the High Court and not by the Executive.”
Hon’ble Shri A.K Sen, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha)( Former Law Minister )
“I was associated as a Minister having the administrative charge of the Tribunal for nearly nine years. During this time, I have seen the Tribunal grow in stature, popularity and importance. It has been endeavor of the Government to keep the Tribunal absolutely independent, so that its adjudication is rendered not only fearless and independent but it also appears to be so.I have seen the working of the Tribunal both as a member of the Bar and as a member of the Government. I can say with confidence that amongst the administrative tribunals in the country it occupies a unique position. The confidencewhich it enjoys amongst the public and respect which it commands from the commercial community would be a matter of pride for any Tribunal in any country. I have every confidence and hope that the Tribunal would continue to serve the country and the litigant public without its working being interfered with or subjected to uniformed criticism.”
Shri Nani A.PalkhivalaSenior Advocate, Bombay High Court – Twentyfive years of the Income -tax Appellate Tribunal.
“The reasons for the Tribunal’s great popularity are not far to seek. An informal atmosphere prevails in the Tribunal and cases are allowed to be argued, not only by lawyers but by accountants. Income -tax practioners, relatives,officers of companies and other representatives. Secondly, the Tribunal unlike Civil Court, is not bound by the rules of evidence. It is permitted,in fact expected, to do substantial justice,bearing in mind (If one may adopt the historic dictum of justice Holmes)that there is a limit to the nicety of inquiry which is possible in tax appeal.”
Shri Sanat P.MehtaAdvocate,Bombay High Court- How I see it.
“It is really gratifying that the Tribunal has from a small beginning acquired an important position in the administration of direct tax laws in our country. To write history of the twenty five years of the Tribunal is like writing a history of tax laws in our country. The Tribunal occupies the same position, whether it be the Income -tax Act, or Estate Duty Act. The Tribunal is the final fact finding authority under the Gift Tax Act as well as Wealth tax Act. The importance of the Tribunal is not merely by virtue of its position but also because of the manner in which it performs its functions.
The Tribunal can well be proud of its performance in the past. The expeditious and relatively cheap justice it administers can stand out well in contract to the delay and cost of justice in regular courts of law. Any scheme of tax administration must mean the continuation of the Tribunal, though with a more realistic approach to the various problems facing the Tribunal at present to enable it to make its past look dimmer by its future performance. If any change has to be made, none could be better than elevation of the position of the Tribunal.”
Shri G.P.Kapadia, Former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of India – A Bouquet Richly deserved.
“The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal has won rich laurels during twenty five years of its existence andproved to be an institution in which trust of the tax payer for such a long time has continued to be rightly reposed.
Is may however,be stated that members recruited from the Departmenthave exhibited considerable talent and have earned the respect and consideration of the tax payer and the general public.”
Shri C.R.Pattabhi Raman Minster in the Ministry of law
“The Tribunal can claim to have achieveda considerable success in the task of holding balances even between the revenue authority and the tax payer. The consensus of opinion amongst tax payers, lawyers, accountants and the litigant public has beenfavourable to the Tribunal.”
Shri C.K.Dapthary, Former Attorney General of India.
“… though it is said that statistics support only the statistician yet some times they serve to underline a point and it will not be out of place to mention some figures. Various Benches have for five years from 1958 to 1963 disposed of over 66000 appeals and in only about 1175 of them, that is 4% have been reference to the High Courts. The Tribunal’s orders have been reversed inn only a small percentage and even where there have been further appeals to the Supreme Court, great majority of the decisions have been up held. These are figures which speak for themselves. The reasons are apparent. The Benches have been manned by men of ability whether they are Judicial or Accountant members“
Shri G.S. Pathak, Former Union law Minister
“… the Standardwhich this Tribunal has set is standard which should be followed by other Tribunals of this nature. This being one of the oldest Tribunals has properly set its standard, standard of integrity, standard of judicial independence, standard of aloofness and standard of detached mind which is the characteristic of every judicial mind. This Tribunal has deserved and rightly deserved; the Tributes paid to it.”
Hon’ble Shri R.S.Gae, Secretary Ministry of law -Continuance of Income -Tax Appellate Tribunal.
“In the end it may be added that though there is a scope for some improvement, the Appellate Tribunal has on the whole achieved considerable success in the difficult task of holding the balance even between the Revenue and the tax payer.”
Mr M.P.Chitale, President, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India – A unique Institution
“The Income -tax Appellate Tribunal is a unique institution where persons drawn from the two independent professions, of law and accountancy contribute to the judicial process. The High Courts of judicature have been able to maintain their reputation for the quality and independence of their decisions on account of the continued sustenance they receive from the practicing lawyers of the Bar. It is equally necessary in the case of the Tribunal to so create the conditions that independent and well -reputed persons belonging to the profession of law and accountancy are encouraged and attracted to render service on the bench.”
Shri.S.N.Datta, Bar -at Law, Patna – A Perspective.
“The Members of the Tribunal have unceasingly been aware that justice has to be administered in a way free from suspicion, even indirectly, and free from any motive or interest. They understand sensibly the dictum of Chief Justice Lord Ellenborough that “Administration ofjustice should not only be free from spot or blame, but that it should be, so far as human infirmity could allow it to become, free from all suspicion.
Myclose association with the Tribunal ever since its inception a quarter of a century ago attacking or defending its decisions either appearing for a disgruntled assesseeor for the Department,enables me to speak out frankly and without any hesitation that Tribunal, a popular institution dealing with an unpopular subject, has passed through the closest scrutiny of both the State and People with success and has attained a judicial maturity linked with grace to occupy a tender niche in the heart of the public, which I can legitimately hope to be over lasting”
Shri A.C.Sampat Iyengar, Senior Advocate, Calcutta – A survey
“For the first few months of its creation,the Tribunal was functioning as a wing of the Central Board of Revenue. But with the increasing volume of work and the higher and higher stakes involved in the decision of the Tribunal, it became necessary to secure the full confidence of the public in this Institution, and hence in 1942, the Tribunal was delinked from the Central Board of Revenue and its administration was placed under the Law Ministry. There has been steady increase in the volume of work which has to be coped with by the Tribunal.”
“If one’s experience of the time taken in disposal of appeals before the High Court be regarded, it can safely be said that work done in one year by the Tribunal would have occupied several years in the High Court. The Tribunal has indeed good reasons to be proud of its work. “
‘Though the Setalvad Commission ( September 1958) had some hard words to say of the Tribunal, the stability of the Tribunal as such continued unimpaired. It has been advancing from strength to strength, year by year, as witnessed by its impressive work as shown above.”
“By and large the Tribunal has been discharging its functions to the satisfactionof boththe tax payers and the Department. There are bound to be occasions when one of the parties feels aggrieved. This is but natural. An appellate authority is also not infallible. On this special occasionI would like to make one suggestion which, to may knowledge, has not been made before. It will be good idea if one of the posts of the Central Board of Direct Taxes is filed by a senior Member of the Tribunal. He should be able to assist the Central Board in maintaining a quasi judicial approach towards some of the problems it has got to deal with, from time to time.”
Shri J.B.Kanga,Advocate & Solicitor,Bombay.
“Though for some time I have not been appearing before the Tribunal, I haveextremely pleasant association in the past and have a great respect for the manner in which the Tribunal has handled even the most complicated cases. I feel that it had served a very useful purpose in the legal life of our country and I hope it will continue to do so.”
Shri R.J.Kolah, AdvocateHigh Court, Bombay
“The Tribunal has done and is doing a very good job anda very satisfactory service to the public as well as to the Department. The number of cases disposed of by the Tribunal and that too very satisfactory speaks volumes for the Members constituting the Tribunal. It would be tragedy if such ausefulbody is done away with, at some time ago a high authority and somethingto that effect to which we took objectionand certainly disagreed with that view and made it known in proper quarters, that the Tribunal is doing an excellent and useful job.”
Shri S.Vaish, Chartered Accountant, Former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. ( 1953 -54)
“Being the highest independent judicial authority whose decisions on questions of fact are final, the income -tax Appellate Tribunal has come to assume a particularly distinctposition of trust and responsibility. The record of its performance during the past twenty -five years truly speaks for the ability for which it has been able to command respectand reverence both from the assessee and the Income -tax department. Judging from the past record and the increase in its strength and sphere of activitiesin recent years there is every reason to hope that the institution of Income -tax Appellate Tribunal will continue to play an increasingly vital and significant role in the country’stax system.”
Source:The gist of the messages and articles are compiled from various souvenirs which are published by the ITAT and are made available in the Library ITAT Bar Association Mumbai.
The contents of this article are solely for educational and informal purposes.Duecare has been taken preparing the gist of messages and Articles, if there is anymistakeerror or discrepancythe same may be brought to the notice of the editorial board of the itatonline.org.
The Tribunals reforms and rationalisation and conditions of service Bill 2021 tabled in parliament.The same envisages abolitions of few tribunals and return to Courts.
The tenure is provided of four years after the NOTIFIED DATE.Further the age prescribed is above 50 years .
It means only failed advocates and less active IRS guys will apply there. As advocates & CAs with regular practice will not go there. That means quality of orders is bound to suffer.
Living in past glories is not ok. Still today govt is bent not filling the vacancies. Last recruitment was years ago. SC selection committee has sent its recommendations since an year. Govt is sitting on it and doing nothing.
Members will be appointed temporary basis. Can they be expected to take a bold call against government ? especially nearing their reappointment ?
Govt. brought the rules of 25 years of practice which was scuttled by SC, but till then benches are lying vacant.
ITAT has benches in at least 25 cities in India, how many of them are working ?
Places like patna, ranchi, jalandhar, panaji have remained vacant since ages
Bar should be vocal on such things
Merely gloating about past will not do good in future
Really glad to read the views from a widespread spectrum over decades for ITAT. THE TRADITION WILL CONTINUE IS A NOT A MATTER OF DEBATE.
The government determination for TRIBUNALS is more than clear if one google the proceedings before SC about TRIBUNALS RULES 12/02/2020.The final order of SC 27/11/2020 and modifications on 25/01/2021 is settling the issues.The tenure basis is now irreversible.
The faceless things should be made OPTIONAL as and when it become operational with say above 2 crore demand matters to start with.
The location of MAIN faceless center is all likely NEW DELHI.
The VSV final data shall determine the government moves.