The Ahmedabad Bench of the ITAT has issued an office order dated 17th October 2017 in which it has listed out several steps that are required to be taken by litigants and the registry so as to lead to a “paperless court”.
One of the important directives is that the registry will henceforth not accept any paper-books containing documents which are statutorily required to be filed with the appeal such as the assessment order, CIT(A)’s order, etc.
It is also directed that the registry will not accept any paper book containing copies of judicial precedents reported in recognized journals and databases.
It is further provided that copies of orders to be served upon the Departmental Representatives and the Commissioners of Appeal/ Dispute Resolution Panel will henceforth be served only by email.
There are several other steps listed with a view to being “environmentally sensitive” and also ushering in a “paperless court”.
The initiative of the Ahmedabad Bench has been welcomed by leading tax professionals.
Dr. Y. P. Trivedi, eminent jurist and former Rajya Sabha Member, was effusive in his praise. He called the circular “innovative” and a “path breaker for Digital India”. He also referred to it as a “step in right direction to make justice easily accessible and, affordable bringing added simplicity and transparency to an institution everybody wants to emulate”.
A similar sentiment has been expressed by Ms. Arati Vissanji, President of the ITAT Bar Association. She referred to the initiative as “yet another major step forward towards a paperless justice delivery system”.
Dr. K. Shivram, Sr Advocate, urged Tax Bars across the Country to support the initiative taken by the ITAT Ahmedabad Bench.
He promised that the ITAT Bar Association’s co-ordination committee will discuss the said order in the meeting scheduled to be held in December 2017 at Jabalpur and will send objective suggestions towards its implementation.
Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India
3rd and 4th floors, Abhinav Arcade
Pritam Nagar, Ellisbridge, Ahmdabad 380 006
October 17, 2017
O F F I C E O R D E R
1. As a part of our initiative for being environmentally sensitive in our day to day functioning, and in consultation with all the stakeholders- including my esteemed colleague Members in the Ahmedabad benches, the Departmental Representatives and Ahmedabad ITAT Bar Association, following steps are being taken with immediate effect:
i. The copies of orders to be served upon the Departmental Representatives and the
Commissioners of Appeal/ Dispute Resolution Panel will henceforth be served only by email. [A copy of the letter dated 13th October 2017 in this regard, received from the CIT (Admn)- with the approval of the Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Gujarat, is attached herewith for ready reference.]
No hard copies of the orders will, henceforth, be issued for the DRs, CIT(A)s and the DRPs.
ii. The registry will not accept any paper-books containing copies of any of the documents, copies of which are statutorily required to be filed anyway along-with the appeal itself, e.g. assessment order, CIT(A)’s order, DRP order, form 35, form 35A, form 36, grounds of appeal etc. The inclusion of these documents in paper-books is a common practice but it results in wholly avoidable wastage of paper, and is, therefore, discouraged.
iii. The registry will also not accept any paper book containing copies of judicial precedents reported in recognized journals and databases. The parties, however, may file copies of such reported judicial precedents when bench concerned, at the time of hearing, may specifically permit or require so.
iv. We encourage use of paper on both the sides, in every document and paper-book filed before in our office, to the extent possible and practicable to do so. Any document or paper-book, wherein paper is used only on one side and wilfully left unused on the other side, will not ordinarily be accepted by the Registry.
v. Any document specifically prepared for the use of the Tribunal, including any applications and any written submissions, to be filed in our office, shall use the paper on both the sides, will use the font size of no more than 12.5 and will have an internal spacing of no more than 1.5 lines. Any documents or paper books, in violation of these guidelines, will not ordinarily be accepted by the Registry.
vi. Notwithstanding anything contained in the points (ii) to (v) above, our office may, till 31st December 2017 or till such further date as may be announced, accept the paper books or documents already prepared by the parties in ignorance of the above requirement.
vii. In all the internal functioning of this office, including in the judicial orders, the use of paper will be minimized to the extent possible by, inter alia, ensuring (i) that paper will henceforth be used on both the sides, ordinarily with a maximum font size of 12.5 and internal spacing of no more than 1.5 line.; (ii) that internal guard files for the judicial orders will henceforth be maintained only in digital mode; and that (iii) that use of email is required to be made, through secure official email accounts, as much as possible in all official communications. These requirements, however, do not restrict any officer of the Tribunal from making such exceptions to these general rules, as, in his considered opinion, may be justified or warranted on a case to case basis.
2. The hard copies of constitution of benches and the cause lists shall only be used for limited internal communications. However, a soft copy of the constitution of benches and the cause lists, in addition to being placed on the official website https://www.itat.gov.in and, with effect from today, in the twitter handle at https://twitter.com/itat_amd
3. As regards the operations of the paperless court and use of soft copies of the paperbooks, since the requisite ground work is likely to be completed by the end of December 2017, a guidance note will be issued separately on or before 15th December, 2017.
4. Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Ahmedabad Office, takes this opportunity to express its deep gratitude to all its functionaries and all its stakeholders, for their valuable help and cooperation in this initiative, on an experimental basis, and invites further suggestions and feedback in respect of the same.
5. This office order is issued, in exercise of the decentralized powers conferred on the Vice Presidents/ Sr Members under item no. 12 of the minutes of the VPs/ Sr Members’ conference dated 8th September, 2017, with the approval of Hon’ble President, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.