The ICAI has addressed a letter dated 27.11.2015 to the Principal Commissioner of Income-tax, Chandigarh, raising objections to the alleged proposal of the department not to allow Chartered Accountants and non-Advocates to “practice law” in the course of proceedings before the tax authorities. The ICAI has pointed out that taxation is one of the “core-competence” areas of Chartered Accountants and that they have expertise in accounting, auditing and taxation. It is also pointed out that these subjects are dealt with in great depth in the CA curriculum and that the ICAI has dedicated committees on taxation. It is emphasized that a chartered accountant, on passing his final examination and completing his articled training, is an expert in taxation, accountancy, auditing, company law and other laws etc., and he is fully qualified to practice in these fields. The ICAI has also drawn attention to several legislation and judicial pronouncements to support its contention that CAs are qualified to practice taxation law and cannot be barred from the same.
Hon’ble H. L. Dattu, Chief Justice of India, has sent the clear warning that the prevalent adjournment culture is one of the main reasons for the huge pendency in the Courts. The Learned Chief Justice of India has asked Judges of all courts to discourage the practice of frequent adjournments sought by lawyers to ensure speedy justice. He pointed out that the practice of discouraging adjournments by the Supreme Court had increased the disposal rate of cases in the Supreme Court to an all time high. He emphasized that 83,013 cases were disposed of in 2014 at an average of 227 cases per day.
The CBDT has issued a press release dated 26.11.2015 pointing out that after notification of ICDS, it has been brought to the notice of the CBDT by the stakeholders that certain provisions of ICDS may need further clarification/ guidance for proper implementation. These implementation issues raised by the stakeholders have been referred to an expert committee comprising of departmental officers and professionals and the committee is currently examining these issues. The CBDT has stated that in order to issue a comprehensive guidance/clarification on this matter, the stake holders and general public are requested to bring out issues/points which in their opinion would require further clarification/guidance for proper implementation of the provisions of the ICDS. These issues/points may be submitted by 15th December, 2015 at the email address (email@example.com) or by post at the stated address
The CBDT has issued a press release dated 20.11.2015 stating that the Finance Minister in his Budget Speech, 2015 has indicated that the rate of corporate tax will be reduced from 30% to 25% over the next four years along with corresponding phasing out of exemptions and deductions. This is a step towards simplification of tax laws, which is expected to bring about transparency and clarity. The CBDT has identified the precise provisions that will be affected as a result of the phasing out plan. The CBDT has invited comments on the aforesaid phasing out plan within 15 days
In National Petroleum Construction Company Vs. DIT in ITA Nos. 143, 144, 533/2013 and 795/2014, the Delhi High Court in its order dt. 13.08.2015, dt. 20.08.2015 and 28.09.2015 directed the Income Tax Department to formulate and implement a standard operating procedure on the following three issues:
(i) Issue No.1:- A mechanism should be put in place for immediate and seamless transfer of cases from one standing counsel to another so that unnecessary adjournments are not sought by the counsels on the ground of lack of formal order of allocation, want of instructions or papers. The lTD to ensure that in none of the matters there is a situation where (a) there is no one appearing for the lTD (b) even if they are, they have neither instructions nor papers. It will be responsibility of the lTD to ensure that the standing counsel who have been assigned the cases have the complete records. It should not be an excuse for Standing Counsel of the lTD to take adjournment on the ground that they have no instructions or that they do not have the case papers.
Pursuant to the solemn promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that a mechanism would be set up to ensure that Assessing Officers are accountable for the unreasonable additions that they make in the assessment order, the CBDT has issued Instruction No. 17/2015 dated 09.11.2015 in which it has admitted that the tendency of the AOs to frame high-pitched and unreasonable assessment orders reflects harassment of taxpayers and leads to generation of unproductive work for the Department.
The CBDT has consequently set up a committee of high-ranking officials which will examine whether there is a prima-facie case of high-pitched assessment, non-observance of principles of natural justice, non-application of mind , gross negligence or lack of involvement of assessing officer. The Committee would ascertain whether the addition made in assessment order are not backed by any sound reason or logic, the provisions of law have grossly been misinterpreted or obvious and well established facts on records have out rightly been ignored. The Committee would also take into consideration whether the principles of natural justice have been followed by the assessing officer. If it is established that unreasonable and high-pitched additions have been made by the assessing officer, a report would be sent to the Pr. CCIT by the Local Committee who will then take suitable administrative action against the Assessing Officer. Further, the departmental position as determined by the Local Committee in such cases would be appropriately presented before the Appellate Authorities so that litigation is curtailed.
It is common experience that Assessing Officers have the tendency to make huge additions and disallowances on frivolous grounds and raise huge tax demands. Coercive measures are adopted to recover the said demands. This causes immense hardship to honest taxpayers.
There are two reasons for the modus operandi of the Assessing Officers. The first is that the CBDT has/ had a policy of rewarding officers with plum postings and promotions based on the tax collected by them (see Collect Taxes; Get Promotion & Choice Posting: CBDT Chief). The second is that some unscrupulous officers get an excuse to demand bribes from the taxpayers (see Chief CIT Used Strong-Arm Techniques To Extort Bribe From Hapless Taxpayers: CBI Report).
Justice Markandey Katju, the retired judge of the Supreme Court, has made the shocking allegation that some judges of the Supreme Court were not appointed on merit but on extraneous considerations such as caste, nepotism etc. He has given specific instances of such alleged appointments. The learned former judge has also claimed that though he went to Justice S. H. Kapadia (not Chief Justice at that time) to object against the elevation of Justice Dinakaran of the Karnataka High Court to the Supreme Court on the ground that there were serious allegations about him, the concerns were disregarded by the Collegium and Justice Dinakaran’s name was cleared (though the appointment was later stalled owing to impeachment proceedings in Parliament).
Justice Katju has suggested that like in the USA, the interview and appointment of Judges should be televised so to prevent any skulduggery. This will ensure transparency and avoid undeserving candidates occupying high judicial positions, he says
The CBDT has issued Instruction No. 16 of 2015 dated 06.11.2015 in which it has taken a stern view of the fact that the time limit of six months specified in s. 12AA(2) of the Income-tax Act 1961 for passing an order granting or refusing registration under s. 12AA are not being adhered to by the Commissioners of Income Tax (Exemptions). The CBDT has directed the Chief Commissioners to monitor that the Commissioners are adhering to the time limit and to take suitable administrative action in the case of laxity
The Ministry of Finance has issued a Notification dated 29.10.2015 in which it is stated that where the variation between the arm’s length price determined under section 92C and the price at which the international transaction or specified domestic transaction has actually been undertaken does not exceed one percent of the latter in respect of wholesale trading and three percent of the latter in all other cases, the price at which the international transaction or specified domestic transaction has actually been undertaken shall be deemed to be the arm’s length price for Assessment Year 2015-2016