Late Shri. T. V. Rajagopala Rao, Ex-President, ITAT: A Tribute

A Full Court reference was held on 11.10.2011 to mourn the tragic demise of Shri. T. V. Rajagopala Rao, the former President of the Tribunal. All Legal Luminaries gathered to pay rich tribute to Shri. Rajagopala Rao for his stellar contribution to the cause of justice.

Speech of Shri R V Easwar, President

Dr Shivaram, the President of the ITAT Bar Association, Mumbai, members of the ITAT Bar Association, members of the accountancy profession, officers of the IRS and my esteemed colleagues in the Mumbai Benches of the ITAT:
It is with great sorrow that I convey to you the news of the passing on of Shri T V Rajagopala Rao, former President of the ITAT in Hyderabad on the 9th October, after a brief period in hospital. He was ailing for quite some time and was confined to his house and wheel-chair bound. Even during his tenure in the Tribunal, particularly after he became President thereof, he was not blessed with the best of health. But he went about his work undaunted by the physical ailments.

He, Lived a life of extreme simplicity, even while spending money of Government. Though he was entitled to first class air fare he always preferred to by travel economy class, his reasoning was time taken for reaching the destination whether first class or economy class is the same. Why I should spent more money of Government.

Shri Rao joined the Tribunal in the year 1980 from the Andhra Pradesh judiciary and was first posted in Delhi. Thereafter he was posted in Hyderabad and Madras before he took over as the 22nd President in the year 1994. He took over at Delhi initially and thereafter came to Bombay, in recognition of the fact that the headquarters of both the Tribunal and the President of the Tribunal is Bombay. He retired on 08.12.1999.

Shri Rao’s tenure as President of the Tribunal was eventful, in the sense that it was during his Presidentship that he resisted the move to take away the powers of the President to transfer and post the Members of the Tribunal and also successfully warded off an attempt to challenge the independence of the Tribunal in its decision-making. The Tribunal and the Bar (I am sure) are indebted to Shri Rao for this. He exhibited unprecedented courage in upholding the independence of the Tribunal on both the occasions. He is said to have filed a 90-page affidavit before the Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the transfer-posting matter, which required deep conviction in the cause and moral uprightness. He had both in abundance. We owe it to him for coming out unscathed on both the occasions. They are Shri Rao’s biggest and most important contributions to the well-being of the ITAT. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that today we recall and remember those victorious moments, and Shri Rao’s success in both the matters is due in no small measure to the ITAT Bar Association, Mumbai and to the ITAT Bar Associations of other places.
It is a pity that Shri Rao did not enjoy good health after his retirement. That, coupled with a tragedy in his family – he lost one of his sons-in-law – ensured that he never regained his health. When I called on him last December, I found him moving about in a wheel­chair. He would lose his memory frequently during the conversation; whenever he regained it, he would become emotional and unable to control his tears. I felt so sorry to see him in that condition and could not find an answer to the question why a noble and upright soul who had done so much for the Tribunal amidst adversities should suffer like this.

Today, the most fitting homage which we, the Members of the Tribunal, can offer to late Shri Rajagopala Rao is to imbibe his simplicity and principles of right behavior and his sense of independence and uprightness.
May his soul rest in peace! Thank you.

FULL COURT REFERENCE ON 11-10-2011 IN HONOUR OF LATE SHRI T. V. RAJAGOPALA RAO

Speech of Dr. K. Shivaram, President, ITAT Bar Association, Mumbai
Hon’ble President Shri R. V. Easwar, Hon’ble Vice President Shri D. Manmohan, Hon’ble Members, Our Past Presidents, Shri Y. P. Trivedi, Shri S. E. Dastur & Shri Dinesh Vyas, Shri Arvind H. Dalai, Smt. Reena Jha Tripathi, Commissioner, my professional brothers and departmental representatives. On behalf of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Bar Association and myself, I associate myself with all that Hon’ble President said, about Late T. V. Rajagopala Rao.

I had the privilege of appearing before Hon’ble President Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao in number of matters, but, I came to know more about him and his personal qualities, when I had the occasions of interacting with him as Honorary Secretary of ITAT Bar Association, let me share today few memorable instances which cannot be forgotten.

1.      Late Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao was man of Simplicity, Honesty and Integrity

There was another incident which showed that he could take tough decisions. A matter came up for hearing before a Judicial Member who had earlier in the very same matter expressed a view adverse to the assessee. Counsel submitted before the Division Bench that the Judicial Member should not hear the particular appeal because he had already taken a view in that very matter which had now come up for re-hearing. The learned Judicial Member said that it was irrelevant and that he would hear and decide the appeal. A representation was made to the President who heard the objection for over 3 hours and passed a detailed order to the effect that the Judicial Member should not be on the Bench hearing the appeal

He, Lived a life of extreme simplicity, even while spending money of Government, he used to take extra care, one such instance was when Myself and My Friend Mr. Arvind Sonde were sitting in his chamber, he asked us how much discount your book seller gives to your library, we said about 20%. Then he called the person-in-charge of Library and asked him, how much discount our book seller gives us, he said 10%. Immediately, he said when they are getting 20% discount why we are not getting. He told the person-in-charge, change the book seller or asks him to give 20% discount to us, I am told though he was entitled to first class air fare he always preferred to by travel economy class, his reasoning was time taken for reaching the destination whether first class or economy class is the same. Why I should spent more money of Government. When he was transferred to Mumbai, his daughter did not get admission in college, because it was late, and admission was closed, I was in his chamber discussing certain administrative issues of ITAT, then Assistant Registrar told him that, admission is closed, but if you speak to so and so consultant who is the trustee, your daughter will get the admission. He said I am not going to speak to any one if she does not get this year let she try in next year.

2.      Quality of Orders
He used to pass a detailed quality order. In one of the matter of stay he passed 7 Pages order, stating why stay should be granted, Client came and told us, Sir we have succeeded in the matter, order has come. I told him this is stay order, not final order. We were told that he passed the order in capacity as a District-Judge. The matter then went in appeal before A.P. High Court. The Hon’ble High Court Judge who read the detailed order requested Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao to join Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and that is how he joined the ITAT.

3.      Adjournments
In his court when any consultant or assessee used to take an adjournment, he used to grant liberally. In one of the meeting I asked him sir; I am yet to see you refusing any adjournment. He told me, there could be two reasons for asking the adjournments, (1) There may  be  genuine  difficulty,   I  must  give  him  an  adjournment  (2) Another reason could be the assessee or the counsel may not have confidence in me,

If they don’t have confidence in me why should I hear, I have so many matters to hear, on this count also they deserve an adjournment. This shows how judicious he was while administering the justice.

4. Contribution of Late Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao to preserve the independence of this institution must be written in golden words, and he will be remembered for ever as long as this institution survives

In the year 1996, then law secretary issued a notification stating that, the Ministry of law has the power to transfer members. When the order came he called all the members of ITAT and I was asked to join them, after discussion, it was decided that the Bar will take up the matter as PIL as it is concerning the independence of the Institution. He told me very clearly, if your Bar is not willing to take up, you may tell me, I will file the petition as an individual, what Government can do, ask me to go home, I have put up more than 20 years service in Government, I am entitled to pension, which is equal to my salary and I will wear black coat and practice in A.P. High Court. The Bar filed a petition which consisted of only six pages, we made the President as one of the respondent to support the petition. Mr. Rajagopala Rao filed the reply of 150 pages with various annexures supporting the petition with in 24 hours sitting the whole night. By reading his reply the petition was admitted, stay was granted. Rest everything is reported, Bombay High Court stayed the order of Law Secretary, (Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Bar Association vs. UOI 2350 OF 1996 Income Tax Review April 1997 Page No. 1 to 3 Vol. XXX111 No. 1.) the Matter was transferred to the Supreme Court, Supreme Court upheld the order of Bombay High Court vide their order dated 5th January 2004 and prescribed the guidelines (AIFTP Journal Vol. 6 No. 1 January) Guidelines are Prescribed Ajay Gandhi vs. Bir Singh (2004) 265 ITR 451 (SC). When the matter was pending before the Supreme Court, then law secretary tried to interfere once gain and Contempt proceedings were taken against him and Apex Court held that Law secretary be held for contempt. ITAT through President vs. V. K. Agarwal (1999) 235 ITR 175 / (1998) 101 Taxman 382 (SC). This is how the independence of this institution was protected by Late Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao.

5.      Additional Five Benches
Government of India sanctioned additional five benches to Mumbai. They have told the President you find the place at New Mumbai and start five new Benches at New Mumbai or shift all ten Benches to New Mumbai. President called us and asked us what Bar has to say whether the bar would desire to have all the benches in one place or only the new benches Then he only found out that the All India Radio which was occupying the premises has shifted to Borivali and asked us to request the Government to allot the premises to ITAT. He made all his efforts, we met the Ministers concerned with the help of Mr. Arun Sathe, In spite of Ministers order, Cabinet did not agree and finally we filed the PIL and due to Court order we got the new premises which all of us are enjoying. The entire credit for this must be given to Late Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao and my seniors who are sitting here and who have supported fully both the PIL matters. When we inaugurated we really missed the presence of Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao. In one of the meeting with the then Law Minister, Mr. Arun Sathe was with me, the  Minster told us that your president is very honest person and man of integrity. That was  Late Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao.
He is one of the President till his retirement on   8-12-1999 continued to sit in Mumbai, which is the head quarter of ITAT.
After his retirement I met him in his residence at Hyderabad, he was not keeping well I conveyed good wishes of the Bar.
May God Rest his soul in peace, I Join your honour, in paying   our humble tribute to the departed soul. I, on behalf of myself and all of you assembled here, convey my heartfelt condolences to the members of his family and pray god to grant eternal peace to the departed soul and strength and courage to his family to bear this great loss.

Speech of Shri. Arvind Dalal

The Hon. President and members of the ITAT at Mumbai. Mr. K. Shivaram, President of Bar Association, Past Presidents of the Association. Shri Y. P. Trivedi, Shri S. E. Dastur Shri. Dinesh Vyas, ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of the Chartered Accountant Members of the Institute, Practicing at the Bar, I associate myself with the full Court reference in Hon. of Late Shri T. V. RajagopalaRao former president of ITAT, who passed away three days before.
I had occasion to appear before Shri. Rao in Tribunal appeals and found that he was just and equitable in his treatment of the counsels and one received full and fair hearing and Judgements characterizing his sense of justice and fairness. Whether one succeeded or lost in the appeal heard by him, one had deep satisfaction of having an opportunity to present one’s case in full and fair manner.
During his tenure as a President of the Tribunal, Members of the Bar Association. Who had occasion to appear before him were of the opinion of getting full Justice, Which is the highest Tribute that we can pay to him. I had also occasion to meet him in the meeting arranged by the bar association for bringing administrative difficulties to his notice, which were considered sympathetically by him and the difficulties of the bar removed. During such meeting one got an impression about his informal and amiable nature, which left a sense of fulfillment amongst the committee members. He retired in 1999 after a distinguished career as judicial member and as Vice-President and President of the Tribunal.
In conclusion, I may state that I am reflecting the view of the profession that he had a very successful tenure of office not only as district and session judge before being appointed as Hon’ble member of the tribunal but also during his tenure as member. Vice President and President of the Tribunal. I pray to god that His Soul may rest in peace.

Speech delivered by Smt Reena Jha Tripathi, CIT (DR) in Full Court Reference on 11.10.2011 in honour of Late T V Rajagopala Rao, former President of ITAT

Hon’ble President, Members of Tribunal, Bar, my fellow colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today we have gathered here to pay our condolences on sad demise of Hon’ble Shri T V Rajagopala Rao, President of ITAT from 1994 – 1999. I stand before you on behalf of Revenue to pay our last respects.
Shri Rao joined the ITAT in 1980 as Judicial Member. He became Vice President in 1989 and was elevated as President in 1994. He was a true Gentleman, a person of mild demeanor but at the same time firm in his views. I had the distinction of appearing before him when I was posted as Junior AR in ITAT. As a young officer initially I was quite hesitant while appearing before the Bench. But his affable quality put us at ease. On our shortcomings he never ridiculed us and provided us the necessary encouragement. His association with the Income Tax Department is not only official but personal too. His son is married to the daughter of 1981 batch of IRS, Shri H Srinivasulu, Commissioner of Income Tax, Hyderabad.

While reminiscing about Shri Rao, I remembered a poem which I had studied in school, which is apt for the moment. I would just like to recite few stanzas from it:
It is called A Psalm of Life by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow
Tell me not in mournful numbers
Life is but an empty dream
for the soul is dead that slumbers
and the things are not what they seen
Life is real Life is earnest
And the grave is not its goal
Dust thou art, to dust returnest
Was not spoken of the soul
Lives of Great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time

With these words I offer my deepest and sincere condolences on behalf of the House and entire Income Tax Department. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Speech of Shri Y. P. Trivedi, Past President, ITAT Bar Association

Hon’ble President Shri R. V. Easwar, HorTble D. Manmohan, Vice President of the ITAT, other Members of the Tribunal, Departmental Representatives and Members of the Bar –

Today we have assembled here to mourn the said demise who was one of the finest Judges of ITAT. So much is mentioned about the qualities which he had about his simplicity, transparency in the Court and the way in which he put everybody at ease so that there was no mental pressure on any one and the juniors would also argue with the same ease as the seniors would do. I would also single out some other qualities of Shri Rajagopala Rao. He was meticulous in details and when we were arguing, he would carefully take note of every word and which in turn would be reflected in his orders. Nobody could influence him in his Judgements and his approach gave a good deal of honour and dignity to the Income Tax Tribunal. He delivered very studied judgement and in some of them I also had the good fortune to appear. In one matter I argued for 2-3 days and he rendered a land mark judgment in the case of surrender of tenancy rights whether it would attract capital gains or not. He drew a distinction between Statutory tenancy and contractual tenancy. We all went into unchartered domain of the Rent Act and he gave a very classic Judgement showing the distinction between the two features of tenancy and ultimately came to the conclusion which was against the assessee. Of course, we went to High Court and the judgement was overruled in the High Court and later Supreme Court also upheld the High Court’s view. But what I am mentioning is that it was a pleasure to argue before some one who could appreciate the counsel’s citations and go through various judgements in order to opine whether there is any distinction between the contractual tenancy and statutory tenancy. It was a great experience for me in that I had appeared before him for three days in that Special Bench. Because of paucity of time I don’t want to discuss other important judgements of his. Justice Holmes has said that the only thing certain in life is death. Geeta also says ‘JATASYA HI DHRUVAM MRITYU’….We know all this but still we feel the demise of some one near to us and feel the grief for the passing of some one with whom we have worked. We can send our deepest condolence to his family members. MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE.

Speech of Shri S. E. Dastur Past President,  ITAT, Bar Association

Mr.President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I admire Mr.TVR, as he was popularly referred to, for 5 great qualities which made him an outstanding judge. He was patient. He let Counsel argue without undue interruption. As has already been pointed out, he took detailed notes of arguments advanced before him which were reflected in his judgment wherein he dealt with them. He decided on the basis of arguments advanced before him by both the sides and his judgments did not reflect chamber research which was not put to the parties in the course of the hearing. It is often one of the major regrets of Counsel that the basis on which an issue was decided against him was not put to him as, if it had been so put, he may have been able to meet it successfully. Lastly, Mr.Rajagopala Rao was always considerate specially to juniors whom he encouraged. He served as President for over 5 years and was always conscious of looking after the convenience and just requirements of the Bar and the litigant.
He practiced as a lawyer from 1961 to 1973 when he was appointed as a District Munsiff which is a post akin to the post of a first class Magistrate. He thereafter became an Additional District and Sessions Judge. In 1980 he was appointed as a Member of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal and he recollected that Justice Venkatachaliah, who was the Chairman of the Selection Committee, told him "You do not have much tax experience but you have all the qualities of being a good judge" – and how right he was. The statement evidenced two things: 1) Justice Venkatachaliah was as good a judge of men as of cases and 2) the fact that to be a good judge one does not have to be brilliant or an outstanding lawyer or even claim great knowledge – in fact sometimes it is a hindrance. After all it is the task of the advocates on either side to put the law before the judge and a judge has to decide which of the two points of view is correct – a task more difficult than just arguing a case and a task which Mr.Rajagopala Rao performed admirably. Mr. Rajagopala Rao was humble and underplayed his vast knowledge. He once told me "I have to listen and it the duty of Counsel to tell me what the law is." He had an excellent judicial demeanour.

He carried on with his work though he was afflicted with diabetes. He had to take insulin at regular intervals. Once when we were arguing a matter he halted proceedings simply stating that they would re-assemble after 15 minutes. I thereafter learnt for the first time that this was done so that he could have his shot of insulin. He was conscious of the sanctity of the judicial time and he did not hesitate to hear a matter in the afternoon if the hearing was not concluded in the pre-lunch session.
A very interesting event took place on October 5, 1995. The Bombay IT Bar passed a resolution at an Extraordinary General Body Meeting regarding the integrity of a certain member of the Tribunal. The resolution was forwarded to Mr. Rajagopala Rao as the President of the Tribunal. Unfortunately, a President is not empowered to take direct disciplinary action against a member. So he immediately did the next best thing, he transferred him. The Bar at that place objected on the ground that the place of transfer was not a dumping ground for a member suspected to lack judicial probity. He, therefore, transferred him to another place from where the member retired. A procedure for adequately dealing with such cases, or what happened about 3 years ago in the eastern part of the country has to be evolved.

There was another incident which showed that he could take tough decisions. A matter came up for hearing before a Judicial Member who had earlier in the very same matter expressed a view adverse to the assessee. Counsel submitted before the Division Bench that the Judicial Member should not hear the particular appeal because he had already taken a view in that very matter which had now come up for re-hearing. The learned Judicial Member said that it was irrelevant and that he would hear and decide the appeal. A representation was made to the President who heard the objection for over 3 hours and passed a detailed order to the effect that the Judicial Member should not be on the Bench hearing the appeal. Unfortunately, sometimes a request by Counsel that a member should not hear a particular case is taken as a personal affront. It may perhaps be advisable if members, particularly those who are nominated on a Special Bench, recuse themselves in case they have earlier taken a view on the issue under consideration, as what the Special Bench decides may become binding.

Mr.Rajagopala Rao was a man of courage. My good friend Mr. Shivaram, who has always been so pro-active in all matters affecting the Bar, has already  referred  to  the  way in which  he  stood  up  to  the  Central Government to preserve the powers of the President. It was an act of courage and independence.

Mr. Rao’s regard for propriety is shown by his approach to where the headquarters of the President should be. The headquarters of the Tribunal and of the President were in Bombay till 1987 when the then President, shifted the headquarters of the President to Delhi. Thus, the headquarters of the Tribunal were in Bombay but the head was quartered in Delhi! I understand that to continue to sit in Delhi periodic special dispensation has to be obtained from the Central Government which is one of the parties in every matter adjudicated by a member. Mr. Rajagopala Rao fortunately assumed charge in Bombay and stayed here till his retirement. He did this even though prior to becoming a President he had not, in so far as I can recollect, sat in Bombay. Unfortunately, the two Hon’ble Presidents who succeeded him did not share his view. I am hot pitching for Bombay because we are of the Bombay ITAT Bar but because, if I recollect correctly, Bombay city is said to contribute well over 30% of the tax revenue of the country.
Most unfortunately, Mr. Rao’s later years were marred by prolonged ill-health – but he carried on gamely. I salute him. I am sure his exemplary behaviour will serve as a beacon for all of us.

Speech of Shri Dinesh Vyas. Senior Advocate, Past President of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Bar Association. Mumbai

We have assembled this morning to mourn the sad demise of Shri T.V. Rajagopala Rao, former President of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. Shri Rao was the President of the Tribunal from 9/8/1994 to 8/12/1999, a solid and long period of five years. His was a very successful presidency whose fruits are being enjoyed by the Tribunal and the tax professionals even today.
I did not appear before him even once during his presidency, but I had a great opportunity and privilege to interact with him in certain matters which were of fundamental importance and far reaching implications to the Tribunal as an Institution and also as an integral part of the Indian judiciary.
There are two significant events which I would like to share with you all, this morning. First, as soon as Shri Rao became the President and came to Mumbai, he expressed to me his desire to make a courtesy call on Shri Nani A. Palkhivala, the doyen of the Indian Tax Bar. Although, Shri Palkhivala was willing to come to the Tribunal for this purpose, Shri Rao with his humility insisted that he only should go to meet Shri Palkhivala in his office and seek his blessings and guidance. I took Shri Rao to Shri Palkhivala and the meeting lasted almost for an hour during which pleasantries were exchanged, views on different legal issues were expressed and then Shri Rao requested Shri Palkhivala’s specific advice upon the taking over of the Presidentship of the Tribunal. Shri Palkhivala told Mr. Rao that Income Tax Appellate Tribunal is a very important Tribunal – in fact a Mother Tribunal – and has to deal with large amounts involving crores and crores of Rupees. In this background, it was for a definite purpose of keeping it away from political influences that from the very inception the Headquarters of the Tribunal were stationed not at New Delhi but at Mumbai. Shri Palkhivala noted that in the then recent past, the President had functioned from New Delhi and that a trend was slowly developing towards political interference from time to time. Shri Palkhivala, therefore, advised Shri Rao to function as a President of the Tribunal only from Mumbai and to ensure that the Headquarters of the Tribunal remain strongly established in Mumbai alone. When we returned from this meeting with Shri Palkhivala, Shri Rao immediately told me in the car itself that he was so glad that he met Shri Palkhivala and that he has instantaneously vowed to function as a President from Mumbai alone. I do strongly believe that Shri Rao took the correct decision, he acted upon it during his full term, he preserved from here the independence and integrity of the Tribunal with courage and confidence and was therefore, able to shape the future of the Tribunal in a much better way.
The second significant event of his presidency is one of the most important developments for the Tribunal in its entire existence. This is his filing a petition against the Law Secretary which ultimately resulted in the Supreme Court laying down law of great and unprecedented consequences for the functioning of the Tribunal in ITAT vs. V.K. Agarwal (235 ITR 175). This decision firmly placed the Tribunal on a high pedestal in the Indian judicial system.

The facts leading to this landmark Judgment need to be noted. In the case of one Smt. Neerja Birla, the Tribunal Bench consisting of a Judicial Member (Shri R.V. Easwar) and an Accountant Member (Shri M.V.R. Prasad) heard the Appeal. The Judicial Member dictated his judgment in August 1997 and signed it. However, the Accountant Member expressed his reservations to his learned Brother; both the Members met and discussed the issues and then the Judicial Member agreed with the view of the Accountant Member and requested him to prepare the Order on those agreed lines. The Accountant Member thereafter prepared the Order with which the Judicial Member fully agreed and thus the final Order dated 23/10/1997 came into being upon both signing it.

The Law Secretary (Shri V.K. Agarwal) came in possession of the above draft Order and the final Order and on the basis thereof issued a Show-Cause-Notice to the President (Shri Rao). The Law Secretary took the position that there were two contradicting Orders which disclosed "judicial impropriety of the highest degree" and that the President may suggest an action that may be taken and the Member against whom it may be taken. The Members sent their replies to the President clarifying the above facts and defended their judicial actions and conduct and also conveyed to the President that the letters of the Law Secretary to the President should be looked upon as a gross interference in the judicial discharge of their duties.

Thereafter, Shri Rao as the President of the Tribunal filed a Petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court and brought to its attention the above facts. Shri Rao requested me to appear and argue before the Supreme Court which I did. Shri K.K. Venugopal, former Attorney General of India and Shri Altaf Ahmed, Solicitor General of India appeared on behalf of the Law Secretary and the Government of India. I argued before the Supreme Court that the Law Secretary had interfered in the judicial functioning of the Tribunal and had thereby committed contempt of the Tribunal whereas from the other side attempt was made to defend and justify his actions.
The Supreme Court in its judgment in ITAT vs. V.K. Agarwal (235 ITR 175) held that the letter from the Law Secretary which questioned the bonafides of the Members of the Tribunal and asked them to explain the judicial Order tampered with the judicial process and amounted to interference with judicial decision making. The letter of the Law Secretary insinuated a dishonest conduct on the part of the two Members on the basis of a confidential draft Order which was unwarranted. The Supreme Court held that the conduct of the Law Secretary amounted to gross Contempt of Court. When I was about to conclude my closing reply, Mr. Agarwal walked into the well of the Court and tendered his unconditional apology and regret. He was told by the Hon’ble Court that it was too late and that he had gone far too beyond his official duties. The Supreme Court did not accept the apology of the Law Secretary and having held him guilty punished him for criminal contempt with maximum imposable fine.
This was the finest hour in the life of Shri Rao which he later told me while thanking me for my efforts. In filing the above Petition before the Supreme Court, Shri Rao acted with great courage and with a great sense of responsibility towards the Tribunal and the Members constituting it. He ensured that the authority and dignity of the Tribunal is maintained and preserved at all cost. It is from then that the Tribunal is being regarded as an integral part of the Indian judiciary and for most purposes is regarded as a "Court".
We at the Bar acknowledge the contributions of Shri Rao with great respect. His role in asserting and affirming the independence of the Tribunal as a judicial body is unmatched and unparalleled. He will be long remembered for the courage that he displayed and for the enduring benefit which he brought to the Tribunal as a judicial institution.
We all pray that his Soul may rest in peace.


One comment on “Late Shri. T. V. Rajagopala Rao, Ex-President, ITAT: A Tribute
  1. mvr prasad says:

    Shri Dinesh Vyas has rendered yeoman service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*