We are proud to announce that the appointees to the post of Finance Minister, Shri. Arun Jaitley, and the post of Law Minister, Shri. Ravi Shankar Prasad, are eminent senior advocates who are extremely well versed with income-tax law and have appeared as counsel in several leading matters.
Shri. Arun Jaitley has appeared in several leading cases such as Municipal Corporation of Delhi vs. Batra 121 CTR 92 (SC) (stay of demand), SRF Finance Ltd vs. CBDT 211 ITR 861 (Del) (TDS u/s 194C) etc. Shri. Ravi Shankar Prasad has appeared in leading cases such as J. Jayalalitha vs. ACWT 309 ITR 277 (Mad) (prosecution for non-filing of return), Sushil Kumar Modi In Re 104 TM 666 (Pat) (tax implications of animal husbandry scam) etc.
Apart from a flourishing practice in income-tax law, both professionals have an excellent grasp of civil law.
Further, Shri. Arun Jaitley has a special affinity towards the Tribunal. During his previous tenure as Law Minister (1998 to 2004), he had taken special interest to ensure that more Benches & Members for the ITAT was sanctioned. He has even visited the premises of the ITAT in Mumbai to inaugurate the new court rooms.
In fact, on that momentous occasion, Shri. Arun Jaitley delivered a speech which is fondly remembered even today by the members of the Bar. He said “There is good rationale why these appeals filed before the Tribunal should be disposed of expeditiously (within a matter of months). If there is no liability of the assessee, there is no reason that a sword should hang on his head. And if there is a liability, then the Revenue should not suffer“. The learned jurist made several other perceptive remarks about the functioning of the Tribunal. (You can download the entire article here (pdf, 1.3MB).)
Apart from an expert understanding of income-tax law, both Ministers are sensitive to the needs and concerns of tax payers. They have made it clear in their public speeches that while taxpayers engaging in nefarious activities of tax evasion and generating black money will not be spared, honest taxpayers will not be harassed and all their problems will be resolved. They have also stated that steps shall be taken to ensure that the income-tax department functions in an efficient manner and accountability is brought in to rein in over-zealous officers.
The ITAT Bar Association shall formally approach both Hon’ble Ministers with a request that the following long-standing issues raised by the Bar be addressed at the earliest:
(i) Appointment of a permanent President for the Tribunal as well as filling up the vacancies in the posts of Sr. Vice Presidents and Vice Presidents;
(ii) Removal of the proposal regarding appointment of ITAT Members for an initial period of only 5 years;
(iii) Increase in the age limits for Judges & Tribunal Members from 62 years to 65 years.
We are very confident that all these long-standing issues will be speedily resolved under the dynamic leadership of the said two Hon’ble Ministers.
We wish the Hon’ble Ministers good luck in their new postings.