MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 2nd MARCH, 2012 AT INCOME TAX APPELLATE TRIBUNAL, MUMBAI ON STARTING OF E-COURT HEARING OF APPEALS BY VIDEOCONFERENCING.
The President, I.T.A.T. had called for a meeting of the President and Members of the I.T.A.T. Bar Association and President and Members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and the Departmental Representatives for a meeting to invite their suggestions for establishing E-Courts across the country.
Hon’ble President mentioned that there are 63 sanctioned Benches of the I.T.A.T. wherein the required strength of the Members is 126 and presently have 88 Members and some of the Benches are not regularly functioning resulting in increase of pendency thereof. Therefore, there is a need to utilize information technology for dispensation of justice in the I.T.A.T. by introducing E-Courts/E-Benches and it will make non-functioning Benches operational so that we fulfill the motto of the Tribunal SULABH NYAY AND SATVAR NYAY. A discussion took place with all the Members participating.
The views expressed therein are as under :
1. Representatives of the Bar, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Departmental Representatives greatly appreciated and expressed their full support to the Tribunal for the proposal to launch E-Benches and to dispose of the appeals pending at non-functioning stations. They stated that this is a novel idea and it can be easily implemented in the light of latest technology like 4GM, touch screen facility etc., They appreciated the move taken by the President I.T.A.T. to launch E-Bench system to dispose of the cases of Nagpur Bench at Mumbai and Allahabad Bench at New Delhi for two weeks from 14th May, 2012 to 25th May, 2012.
2. It is generally suggested that there is a need to educate the Members of the Bar and the Chartered Accountants at those stations properly so that there is an effective and proper hearing of the cases. The I.T.A.T. should issue proper guidelines containing the modalities and procedures for making the E-Bench function without undue criticism and the Bar expressed their resolve to help the President of the I.T.A.T. by educating their own colleagues spread across the country.
3. The President of the ICAI stated that they have excellent infrastructure facilities in almost all the stations and they are ready to co-operate with the President of the I.T.A.T. to implement this E-Bench proceedings by making available their excellent infrastructure with them for use of the litigants and the department alike.
4. The President of the I.T.A.T. Bar Association Shri K.Shivram and the Past President Shri Dinesh Vyas expressed that the local Bars should be encouraged and should be provided with proper facilities to see that the atmosphere and the sanctity of the Court is maintained and the hearing takes place in Court room atmosphere and professionals at those stations should be encouraged to make their arguments before the E-Courts and smaller problems must be addressed by the Presiding Officers of the E-Courts to the satisfaction of all the parties involved.
5. In place where the I.T.A.T. is having its own premises, the hearing will take place in the specially created Court Rooms. Where it does not have its own building, first choice will be made to create a Court Room in the Income Tax Department building of that station and where such arrangement are not available and if it is difficult to find such place, a request will be made to Chamber of Commerce & Industry of that particular station with the help of the I.T.A.T. Bar Association or in case where the ICAI have such facility at those stations, their premises will be converted into studio Court Rooms for the purpose of conducting the proceedings or in the alternative we may explore the possibility of holding the Court Rooms in NIC centres of those stations.
6. They also stressed the need for making the procedures and modalities user-friendly and the only aim should be to dispose of the matters effectively and as quickly as possible.
7. The assessee or the department can “opt-out” from the E-Court by specifically writing a letter. If the letter is not filed it is always understood that they are in the stream of E-Court proceedings. Choice is left to the department or the assessee as the case may be. In the same manner the assessee who once “opted-out” from the E-Court can also “opt-in” at any time, during the pendency of the appeal to be heard in the E-Court. In such cases, where the parties are not interested to present their cases before E-Court, their cases will be consolidated and Members will be sent on tour for disposing of the same. In such cases, the delay in disposing of these cases is therefore attributed to the choice of the parties in view of the option exercised by them.
8. Senior Departmental Representatives appreciated the move of the I.T.A.T. in establishing the E-Court and they promised all help to the I.T.A.T. to make the experiment a success. It is expressed by all the Members that the I.T.A.T. should formulate the procedures and modalities of the E-Court and put up on its web site itat.nic.in so that everybody follows the best practices so as to ensure the E-Court experiments are benefit to the maximum extent.
9. The President also expressed to extend this E-Court concept to dispose of the Third Member cases and Special Bench cases in course of time at different locations.
10. The President of the I.T.A.T. thanked all the participants for guiding the launch of E-Bench in the judicial dispensation system of the Tribunal.
MEMBERS PRESENT FOR THE MEETING
1. Shri G.E.Veerabhadrappa, President
2. Shri D.Manmohan, Vice President (MZ)
3. Shri R.S.Syal, Member
4. Shri P.M.Jagtap, Member
5. Shri N.V.Vasudevan, Member
6. Shri J.Sudhakar Reddy, Member
7. Shri Rajendra Singh, Member
8. Shri B.Ramakotaiah, Member
FROM ITAT BAR ASSOCIATION
1. Shri K.Shivram
2. Shri Dinesh Vyas
3. Shri A.P.Sathe
4. Shri Arun Sonde
5. Shri Subhash Shetty
6. Shri A.H. Dalal
FROM Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
7. CA Jaydeep Shah, President of the ICAI
8. CA Pankaj Jain, Central Council, ICAI, Mumbai
9. CA Durgesh Kabra, Chairman, WIRC, Mumbai
FROM DEPARTMENTAL REPRESENTATIVES OFFICE
10. Shri Pavan Ved, CIT (D.R.)
11.Shri A.C.Tejpal, CIT (D.R.)