After Prime Minister Modi’s Promise, ITAT Circuit Bench At Varanasi Set Up On War Footing Despite Challenge By PIL

A new Circuit Bench at Varanasi has been set up to fulfill the promise made by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the ITAT Bar Association, Allahabad, has challenged the setting up of the Circuit Bench on the ground inter alia that the pendency at Varanasi is very low and that unnecessary expenditure will be incurred on the infrastructure. It is also claimed that there is an acute shortage of Members at the Allahabad Bench and that a large number of cases are pending therein

Inauguration of Circuit Bench of ITAT at Varanasi on 14-07-2018

The Honourable Prime Minster of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, announced the setting up of a Circuit Bench of ITAT at Varanasi. This is welcome news for the tax litigants of 11 districts near Varanasi. The new Bench of ITAT shall be instrumental in bringing justice to the doorsteps of the people.

The Honourable President of ITAT, Mr. G.D. Agrawal, the Honourable Accountant Member, Shri N.K Saini , and the Honourable Judicial Member of ITAT, Mr. Amit Shukla were present on the occasion of the announcement. It is for the first time in 77 years in the history of the ITAT that a Prime Minster of India has by himself announced the setting up of a Circuit Bench of the ITAT at a public forum.

(Hon’ble President GD Agrawal with the dignitaries of the ITAT Varanasi Bench)

On the eve of the announcement the ITAT Bar Association of Varanasi has also been formed. Mr. Arvind Shukla, Advocate has been unanimously elected as the president of the Association. The Circuit Bench has started functioning from 16-07-2018 and the Honourable Accountant Member, Mr. N. K. Saini and the Honourable Judicial Member Mr. Narasimha Chari, are the first Members to preside over its proceedings.

(Distinguished office bearers of the ITAT Varanasi Bar Association)

On the first day of hearing, a large number of representatives attended the ITAT to witness the Tribunal proceedings first hand.

We wish the members of the new set up ITAT Bar Association, Varanasi good luck and are very happy that the promise of the Honourable Prime Minister of India to take steps to render quick justice at the doorsteps of the people is taking fruit.

PIL filed against the setting up of the Circuit Bench

Court No. – 36

Case :- PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL) No. – 3818 of 2018

Petitioner :- The Income Tax Bar Association

Respondent :- Union Of India And Another

Counsel for Petitioner :- Uday Pratap Singh

Counsel for Respondent :- A.S.G.I.

Hon’ble Mrs. Sunita Agarwal,J.
Hon’ble Ajit Kumar,J.

The present Public Interest Litigation has been filed by the Income Tax Bar Association, Allahabad through its elected President with the assertion that vide amendment notification in the standing order dated 21.05.2018, the respondent no.2 has created a circuit bench of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Varanasi, without addressing the grievances of the petitioner Bar Association with regard to no appointment of members for the permanent seat of the Tribunal at Allahabad.

With reference to page ’52’ of the paper book, it is contended by the learned counsel for the petitioner that the territorial jurisdiction for Allahabad Bench is for approximately more than 20 districts.

Four members are supposed to constitute two division benches in the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal; Whereas not a single permanent member has been posted for the last 10 years except for a few month when the members from other Income Tax Appellate Tribunal are sent to hold the bench that too for a short time.

The result is that two permanent Division Bench in the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal are not constituted regularly so as to dispose of the cases/appeals pertaining to the jurisdiction of the Allahabad Bench.

It is further contended by learned counsel for the petitioner that the pendency in the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is only of approximately 872 cases which is not much so as to warrant creation of a circuit bench at Varanasi.

Lots of public money spent in creating permanent infrastructure at Allahabad is wasted for non appointment/designation of members permanently and further the public money would be wasted in creating new infrastructure for the circuit bench Varanasi.

It is, thus, contended that the notification issued by the respondent no.2 in making amendment of the Standing order dated 16.09.1996 by the notification dated 21.05.2018 runs against the public interest. The petition raises a serious issue.

Sri Apurva Hajela learned counsel has put in appearance on behalf of respondent no.1. Issue notice to respondent no.2 fixing 30.07.2018. Steps to be taken within one week by registered post A.D. List on 30.07.2018

In the meantime, both the respondents may file their counter affidavits explaining the allegations raised in the present petition. The interim application moved in the present Public Interest Litigation would be considered after the instruction are received from the respondents.

Order Date :- 15.6.2018

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