The CBDT has revealed in the Central Action Plan 2018 that the total demand stayed by Courts/ITAT as on 01.04.2018 is a whopping sum of Rs. 87,035 crore. It is pointed out that the appeals have been pending for several years and Departmental Representatives/Counsel are unable to press for disposal in the absence of adequate resources and support from the field formations. In order to tackle the back-log of litigation, the CBDT has formulated a concerted and focused strategy. The CBDT has also stipulated time limits within which the targets are required to be completed.
PART C – APPEALS WITH ITAT/COURTS
5. There are a large number of cases where appeals for various assessment years, involving similar issues, are pending at different levels in the ITAT/High Court/Supreme Court. In many cases, such appeals have been pending for several years and Departmental Representatives/Counsel are unable to press for disposal in the absence of adequate resources and support from the field formations. This back-log of litigation not only blocks collectible revenues (total demand stayed by Courts/ITAT as on 01.04.2018 is Rs. 87,035 crore), but also generates further litigation due to similar issues arising in assessments being made year after year. Thus, even though there has been a reduction in the number of appeals being filed by the Department, the number of disputes pending in Courts/ITAT has been increasing over the years.
6. Managing litigation pending in Courts/ITAT therefore needs to be addressed in a concerted and focused manner as under:
6.1 Every PCIT shall identify top 30 litigation cases of assesses in his Charge where important issues are pending at one or more appellate levels in ITAT/HC/SC as also with CIT(A), based on:
• Importance of the issue
• Revenue potential
• Recurring nature of the issue
• Stay granted appeals/cases
6.2 After identification, the cases with common or similar issue(s) shall be bunched. Where there are common or similar issues in cases across CCIT regions within a PCCIT region, the bunching shall be done at the level of PCCIT.
6.3 The PCCIT or CCIT shall then nominate a resource person (of the level of PCIT/CIT) or form a team (headed by a PCIT/CIT) for each case or bunch of cases. Where cases involve issues relating to international taxation and/or transfer pricing, officers from International Taxation and/or Transfer Pricing charges may be involved.
6.4 The resource person or the team (as the case may be) shall devise the strategy required to deal effectively and efficiently with the case(s) and appeals lying at different levels. They shall prepare written briefs and submissions and shall assist CIT (DR)/Department Counsel on real time basis in proper representation before ITAT/HC/SC, including being present at hearings to the extent possible, filing written submissions and taking other actions as required. They shall also make required efforts for early fixation of cases, vacation of stay orders and such other matters. The Assessment Wing shall be actively involved in defending the interest of revenue in the litigation affairs.
6.5 In order to ensure effective representation in all other category of top litigation cases (non-bunching cases) the PCIT concerned shall constitute a team headed by Range head for effective representation before ITAT/HC/SC which shall include drafting of briefs and proper briefing to CIT(DR), Sr. Standing Counsel, ASG, SG and AG as the case may be. The team will periodically monitor proceedings before ITAT/HC/SC. The briefing team for ASG/SG/AG shall be headed by PCIT/CCIT and it is expected that PCIT will personally attend these cases before HC/SC.
7. It has been noticed that proper attention has not been paid to the prosecution cases resulting in long drawn prosecution proceeding before the courts and award of punishment in very small number of cases. There is a need to address this problem in a concerted and focused manner. The PCITs shall ensure drafting and filing of error free prosecution complaints in consultation with Standing Counsel of the department and effective representation before Courts by way of proper briefing to Standing Counsel. The PCCIT/CCIT shall identify prosecution complaints pending for more than two years and will devise case-specific litigation strategy for effective representation to enable the Courts to take a final view in the matter at the earliest.
8. The following targets are laid down in this regard:
MANAGING LITIGATION IN COURTS/ITAT
1 Reconciliation by PCITs/CITs of the total pendency of appeals before ITAT/HC/SC By 31.07.2018 2 Completion of process of withdrawal of appeals as mandated separately by Board By 31.07.2018 3 (a) Identification of 30 top litigation cases as above By 31.07.2018 (b) Bunching of cases and nomination of resource persons By 15.08.2018 (c) Preparation of written submissions By 31.08.2018 (d) Assistance to CIT(DR)/Department Counsel On-going