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.
(ii) Issue No. 2:- There should be a definite time limits within which the appeals will be filed and re-filed by the Panel Counsel after curing the defects and bringing them up for hearing before the court. There should be a system devised by the lTD to monitor on a constant basis the adherence to time lines in various matters entrusted to standing counsel. If there is delay beyond acceptable limit, the case to be assigned to another counsel to complete the further steps within the stipulated time frame. Specific time lines be set for Standing Counsel to complete the steps and consequence of the counsel failing to adhere to those time limits must be clearly spelt out.
(iii) Issue No. 3:- Issues that may be pending before other High Courts or the Supreme Courts which have attained finality one way or the other, i.e. either in favour of the revenue or the Assessee, there should be a regular channel of communication of such information to the standing counsel. lTD should digitise all its records and engage teams of persons with requisite knowledge who can assist in collating information of specific areas from the digitised data.
Pursuant to the said directives of the High Court, the Chief Commissioner has issued a detailed document titled “PROCEDURE FOR FILING APPEALS, CURING DEFECTIVE APPEALS AND EFFECTIVE REPRESENTATION IN THE DELHI HIGH COURT”. The said document sets out the standard operating procedure to be followed by the department in all cases.