After an inordinate delay, the Government has appointed four Vice Presidents for the ITAT. However, as the vacancies are for eight Vice Presidents, four more are required to be appointed on an emergent basis. Further, a permanent President of the Tribunal is also required to be appointed
As far back as in May 2015, the ITAT Tax Bar had warned that the delay in appointing top functionaries of the ITAT was improper and was adversely affecting the cause of justice (see Non-Appointment Of ITAT Vice-Presidents Is Disturbing And Will Hinder Motive Of ‘Sulabh Nyay’ (Easy Justice)).
Matters finally came to a head when a public spirited individual named Akshay Pundir filed a PIL in the Supreme Court in which he pointed out that “ad hocism has become order of the day as many of the posts of senior vice presidents and vice presidents have not been filled up“. He also stated that “the timely appointment of Presidents, Vice-Presidents and members will go a long way in tackling the burgeoning tax litigations in the country.” He warned that “the administrative work is also suffering because members have to wait for small things as the final decisions of vice presidents would not reach on time which also indirectly affects the litigants” and that “chaos will arise in business circles”.
The Government had assured the Supreme Court that the appointments would be finalized soon. Pursuant to this, the following four Hon’ble Members have been appointed Vice Presidents with effect from 31st March 2017.
|S. No||Name||Date of Superannuation|
|1.||Hon’ble Shri Ramesh P. Tolani J.M.||29/06/2017|
|2.||Hon’ble Shri S.V. Mehrotra, A.M.||30/07/2017|
|3.||Hon’ble Shri P.K. Bansal, A.M.||09/01/2018|
|4.||Hon’ble Shri Ravinder Singh Syal, A.M.||25/12/2023|
There are four more vacancies in the posts of Vice Presidents that are required to be appointed. In addition, out of the four Vice Presidents that have been appointed presently, two are due for retirement in June and July 2017.
This effectively means that six more Vice Presidents are required to be appointed.
The Hon’ble President of the Tribunal retired on 17th February 2017 on completion of his tenure. As this was a known event, the Government ought to have short-listed the candidates in advance and appointed the new President to take charge immediately on retirement of the old one.
In the last hearing, the Government informed the Supreme Court that the process of finalising the selection of the President of the ITAT is at an “advanced stage” and will be completed within the next three weeks.