ITAT Mumbai To Resume Hearings Of Appeals

The ITAT Mumbai Bench has released the Constitution as well as the Cause List for hearing of appeals with effect from 8th June 2020.

INCOME TAX APPELLATE TRIBUNAL
MUMBAI BECHES, MUMBAI
3rd and 4th floors, Pratishtha Bhawan
101, Maharishi Karve Marg, Mumbai 400 020
N O T I C E

1. In view of the Covid-19 epidemic, and the resultant lockdown in Mumbai, the judicial functioning of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal has been severely restricted since 23rd March 2020. However, now that we have moved into “Unlock 1” and “Mission Begin Again”, with effect from 1 st June 2020 with opening of Government Offices with 15% staff attendance and with effect from 8th June 2020 with opening of Private Offices with 10% staff attendance, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Mumbai benches, is taking steps for resumption of judicial work in a gradual manner.

2. Beginning 8th June 2020, the SMC cases will be taken up, though web based video conferencing, by 3 SMC benches. A separate protocol for the modalities of virtual courts, in the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Mumbai benches, is being issued, as also the constitution of benches.

3. While, on account of paucity of time and limited functional staff strength and as a one time measure, it is not possible to issue postal notices for the hearing of SMC cases scheduled from 8th June 2020, it is clarified that the cases listed from 8th June 2020 are the cases which were scheduled for hearing from 23rd March 2020 when the judicial functioning came to a halt due to Covid 19 epidemic. These cases had to adjourned on account of the declaration of lockdown and the related health concerns, and the current rescheduled dates of hearing have been announced through the notice board and the official website of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal , and through the ITAT Bar Association office. A copy of this cause list for SMC cases for the weeks beginning 8th June 2020 and 15th June 2020 is attached herewith.

4. It is, however, fully appreciated that it may not be possible for concerned parties to take note of the rescheduled date of hearing of the SMC cases listed from 8th June 2020 onwards, in respect of which formal notices have not been issued by post. It is for this reason that no matters will be decided ex parte against the assessee during the hearing of these cases through virtual courts.

5. It is further decided that, with effect from 15th June 2020, the following DB cases will also be taken up at the request of the assessee:

(i) which are covered by decisions in assessee’s own case for another year,

(ii) which are directly covered by the decisions of the Tribunal inasmuch as these cases pertain to the penalties and the quantum addition is deleted by the Tribunal, inasmuch as these cases pertain to assessment orders as a result of the revision orders and the revision orders are quashed by the Tribunal, and inasmuch as the issues in the appeal is a neatly identified legal issue which is covered by a direct decision of the Tribunal, or a higher judicial forum, on that legal issue; and

(iii) which deal with not more than three neatly identified issues which, in the opinion of both the parties and the Tribunal, can be disposed of by way of a hearing through video conferencing and which does not require too detailed a paper-book.

6. As regards the DB cases, covered by paragraph 5 above, the assessees and their representatives are requested to kindly send the details of such cases, alongwith a scanned copy each of (a) form no. 36 and all the related annexures thereto; (b) related judicial precedent by which the issue is covered; and, (c) so far as cases covered by paragraph 5(b)(iii) above are concerned, a small write up, or not more than 500 words, justifying the stand that the issues in appeal are neatly identified issues which can be disposed of relatively easily without too detailed a paper -book. All the communications, in response to this appeal, may be sent to vps.mumbai@itat.nic.in., with a copy to the cit.dr12.itatmumbai@incometax.gov.in. Upon perusal of such requests, and upon receipt of comments of the CIT(DR), the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal will take a call on whether or not the related appeals will be taken up for hearing, and, if the related appeals are to be taken up for hearing, schedule the date of hearing.

7. It is further decided that with effect from 15th June 2020, some division benches will also function through the web based video conferencing mechanism, and initially not more than six cases will be listed for hearing before each such division bench. The cases listed for this period are the cases which were originally scheduled to be heard from 23rd March 2020 when judicial functioning was dis rupted due to Covid 19 epidemic and resultant health concerns. A draft cause list for the two week period beginning 15th June 2020 is being circulated separately. In case the assessee’s representatives, in any of these cases, in the order of seniority of appeals- with stay granted matters, early hearing cases and regular appeals being treated as different categories, are willing to argue the appeals through the virtual court mechanism, and upon taking into account comments of the Departmental Representatives on such requests, these matters will be taken up for hearing on the scheduled dates of hearing.

In cases, however, where assessees do not inform the ITAT office of the willingness to argue the cases through web based video conferencing upto four days prior to the scheduled date of hearing, or where assessees seeks adjournment in such cases, these matters will stand adjourned and will not figure in the final cause lists.

8. It is further decided that effective 12th June 2020, and till further orders, the stay applications, early hearing applications and consolidation applications will be taken up for hearing, in batches, through web based video conferencing, on all working Wednesdays and Fridays. The cause list and constitution of benches, in this regard, will be issued by 11th June 2020.

9. It is clarified that the hearing of appeals, or any other matters, through web based video conferencing is entirely optional to the assessee, and that, at any stage of such proceedings and without assigning any reason, the assessee may withdraw from the proceedings. No adverse orders shall be passed against the assessee on account of his non-participation in these proceedings.

10. As regards the functioning of physical benches for resumption of judicial work, the matter is under examination, and, as and when circumstances permit the same, all the stakeholders will be notified accordingly. These instructions will also be subjected to review and modifications, as may be deemed necessary in the light of our experiences and feedback from the stakeholders, from time to time.

11. All the stakeholders are requested not to visit the ITAT offices unless it is wholly unavoidable and that too with prior appointment with the official concerned.

Any documents required to be filed in the ITAT may be sent by email on mumbai.bench@itat.nic.in, any communications addressed to the Vice President, Mumbai may be sent on vps.mumbai@itat.nic.in, and any communications addressed to Hon’ble President may be sent on presdtsec.itat@nic.in Any documents required to be filed with the ITAT may also be sent by registered post or be dropped in the mailbox outside room no 352, in ITAT Office at 3rd floor, Pratishtha Bhawan, but, in view of the limited staff strength, it will not be possible to issue formal acknowledgement receipts of such documents or scrutinize the documents at the time of receipt of documents. The email on which acknowledgement may be sent may clearly be stated on the cover, as also on the forwarding letter.

This issues with the approval of Hon’ble President.

Sd/xx
Pramod Kumar
June 5, 2020 Vice President (M)


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