First time in the history of the ITAT, a full court welcome reference of Hon’ble Justice Mr. P. P. Bhatt, taking over as President, ITAT, on 24th October, 2018, at 10:30 AM, was held in Court Room No.1 in the presence of the members of the profession and the Department Representatives:
Hon’ble Vice-president Mr. G. S. Pannu welcomed the Hon’ble Mr. Justice P. P. Bhatt and the vice-presidents and Members of the ITAT and their family members, the members of the Bar and other professionals.
Hon’ble Mr. G. D. Agarwal, Vice-president, introduced Honourable Justice Mr. P. P. Bhatt. While doing so, honourable Vice-president mentioned that the honourable Justice Mr. P. P. Bhatt was born on 6th September, 1956.
He had primary education in different districts of Gujarat. Graduated in Arts faculty with Political Science from H.K. Arts College, Ahmedabad and obtained degree of Law from Sir L.A. Shah Law College, Ahmedabad affiliated to Gujarat University. Enrolled as an Advocate with the Bar Council of Gujarat and started practice in the High Court of Gujarat in 1984.
Honourable Vice-president Shri G. D. Agarwal also mentioned about the display of strenuous efforts by the honourable justice in extending the working hours till 10 in the night for 10 to 12 consecutive days, in the process of protecting and upholding social justice.
After the introduction of Honourable Mr. Justice P. P. Bhatt, honourable Shri. G. D. Agarwal handed over the charge where a formal ceremony of the oath taking process was conducted where the Honourable Justice signed on the papers signifying the taking of oath.
Thereafter Shri. A. A. Shankar, Principle Chief Commissioner of Income-tax, Mumbai, spoke a few words where he extended a warm welcome to the President, Members and the professionals.
Shri. Sushil Kumar Poddar, Commissioner – DR, promised that the department would extend their complete and immense help in reduction of litigation and disposal of pending appeals.
Ms. Arati Vissanji, the President of Tax Bar Association, Mumbai, on the occasion of Oath Taking Ceremony, expressed her pleasure on the appointment of Honourable Mr. Justice P. P. Bhatt as the President of the ITAT and mentioned the following words in this regard:
“Hon’ble Justice Shri P.P.Bhatt, Hon’ble Vice-Presidents and Members of the ITAT, Principal CCITs and CITs, Representatives of the Dept., Distinguished Guests, my seniors and other colleagues at the Bar, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have assembled here today for a special occasion, to welcome Hon’ble Justice Shri P.P.Bhatt who assumes charge as President of the ITAT. It is a privilege to extend a warm welcome to you Sir. Less than 2 weeks ago we learnt of your appointment as President of this august institution. But that was not all.
We also heard of your commitment to work, how Your Honour voluntarily extended your working hours till 11 pm to dispose of between 100-200 bail applications daily, of your varied experience at the Bar and the Bench as well as in administration all of which inspires us to believe that under your able leadership the Tribunal will scale new heights.
Sir, the Bar at Mumbai has always been both protective and pro-active in so far as the Tribunal is concerned. I say ‘protective’ in the context of the Tribunal’s independence.
For instance, when in 1997 there was an attempt to interfere with the functioning of the Tribunal the Bar filed a PIL in the High Court. The matter was ultimately resolved by the apex Court which firmly dealt with the threat. The judgment in the case of V.K.Agarwal is reported in 235 ITR 175.
An illustration of the Bar’s ‘proactivism’ was seen when there was a proposal to constitute 5 additional Benches at Navi Mumbai because of space constraint here. Once again, the Bar stepped in. A PIL was filed which ultimately resulted in allotment of additional space previously occupied by All India Radio that too on the 4th floor.
That wing was inaugurated by none other than Shri Jaitley then the Law Minister.
Sir, on behalf of the Bar and my own behalf we wish you good luck. Even before your arrival here our website displayed the general reaction – Tax Bar pleased with the appointment, pledges support. We assure you that these sentiments are sincerely meant. We the Bar will continue to support this institution in the days to come.
They say that good things do not happen singly.
Fortunately,soon after this appointment, the long standing vacancies in the posts of Vice-Presidents werefilled up. On behalf of the Bar and on my own behalf I take this opportunity to convey our best wishes to you Sirs, Shri Jagtap, Shri Saini, Shri Vasudevan, Shri Pramod Kumar, Shri Jain, Shri Pannu and Shri Joginder Singh on your appointment as Vice -Presidents. Sir, with your team of 9 very able Vice Presidents and Members, we look forward to more ‘Acche din’ for the Tribunal.”
CA. Dinal Shah, Member of Central Counsel of ICAI, welcomed the President and assured that the Institute of Chartered Accountants would give absolute support and help the Honourable President in any manner required.
The Honourable Justice Mr. P. P. Bhatt addressed the gathering as under:
“Hon’ble Shri Agrawal ji, senior most Vice-President, Learned Vice-Presidents representing different Zones, Learned Members of ITAT Mumbai Benches, President and other office bearers of the ITAT Mumbai Benches, President and other office bearers of the ITAT Mumbai Bar Association, Learned Members of the Bar, the officers of the Income-tax Dept., officers and staff members of ITAT, Mumbai Benches, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Indeed, it is a matter of great pleasure to address all of you after assuming charge of the office of President, Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT).
The journey of the ITAT started in 1941. As we all know, it is the oldest and first of its kind of Tribunal established under the Income-tax Act. While looking at the history of our Tribunal, I came to know that our Tribunal has provided immense contribution in the development of taxation law.
Many remarkable judgments have been delivered by learned former as well as present Members of the ITAT. The contribution of the Members of the Bar also needs to be appreciated as they have provided able assistance in development of taxation law.
It appears that, initially, number of appeals filed before the Tribunal was limited, but gradually it has increased and presently about 1 lac cases are pending; out of which, the highest pendency is lying with Delhi Benches followed by Mumbai and Ahmedabad Benches.
To meet with the challenge to reduce the pendency of appeals, the Bench and Bar both will have to make sincere endeavours. I take this opportunity to appeal to all of you to extend co-operation in disposal of cases, including old cases which are pending since more than five years.
I am told that most of the benches are working in rented premises. The Jaipur bench is having its own complex and the requisite infrastructure. In Bangalore and Cuttack benches construction work is almost completed and will be made functional in• near future. Thus, this is one area of concern where initiative will have to be taken to develop our own infrastructure.
I got an opportunity to develop infrastructure for Judiciary while discharging duty in High Court as Registrar General and then in the capacity of Judge in Gujarat as well as Jharkhand High Court. I assure all of you that, with the co-operation of my colleagues and concerned government authorities we will make sincere and dedicated endeavours to develop befitting infrastructure of ITATs benches.
The development and use of information technology in Judiciary has given remarkable results. I am told that computerisation of ITAT has been done substantially.
However, with a view to improve the system and take maximum benefit of computerisation, we will take required steps which may be useful to litigants, lawyers as well as all the functionaries attached to ITAT.
The optimum use of resources, especially human resources, is also the area of concern. Necessary steps for filling-up vacancies, if any, in ITAT at various levels will be undertaken.
These are the few areas of concern where we will have to take necessary steps to revamp our system and therefore, at this juncture, I thought it fit to share with all of you so that we may discuss and deliberate upon such issues in the coming days. I need support of each and every stakeholder in this regard. I am sure that we will make collective efforts with team spirit to address the important issues referred above.
Let us take collective pledge to strengthen our Tribunal and make it more vibrant to discharge our functions effectively to provide speedy dispute resolution through our tribunal. I request all of you to offer suggestions, if any, for the same.
I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the senior most Vice President, Shri Agarwalji, all other Vice Presidents and Members of Mumbai Benches as well as office bearers and members of the Bar, officers and staff of ITAT, Mumbai Benches for giving me warm welcome. My special thanks to the Vice Presidents, Shri Pramod Kumarji and Shri Pannuji for making all the arrangements for this event.
Once again thank you very much to one and all.
Hon’ble Vice-president, Mr. R. S. Syal thanked everyone present for the warm welcome of the Honourable Mr. Justice P. P. Bhatt.
The meeting was followed by High Tea, which was hosted by the ITAT, wherein the Members of Bar and the departmental representatives also attended.
On behalf of the All India Federation of Tax Practitioners, a welcome address was handed over to the Honourable Justice Mr. P. P. Bhatt, which reads as under:
Honourable Mr. Justice P. P. Bhatt, President of ITAT
On behalf of the All India Federation of Tax Practitioners as well as on our behalf, we congratulate Your Honour on being appointed as the President of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT). The ITAT is the oldest institution in the country. It is rightly referred to as the Mother Tribunal and has over the passage of time proved itself to be true to its guiding principles of speedy and fair dispensation of Justice in the field of Income – tax Law.
Your Honour’s rich experience in administrative matters and your unfailing judicious approach will have a positive impact not only on the dispensation of Justice and also shall greatly contribute to the state’s efforts for the speedy disposal of the pending matters.
Honourable sir, the AIFTP has published two books i.e. ‘A Fine Balance – Law, Practice, Procedure and Conventions’ dedicated to Padmavibhushan Late Dr. N. A. Palkhivala, which was released by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Dipak Misra, the then Chief Justice of India; and ‘Interpretation of Taxing Statutes’ dedicated to Late Mr. Justice S. H. Kapadia, Former Chief Justice of India, which was released by Hon’ble Justice Mr. A. K. Sikri, Judge Supreme Court of India. We enclose herewith the copies of the aforementioned books to your Honour.
We wish your honour good luck.
Dr. K. Shivaram,
National President, Past President of AIFTP.”
A felicitation dinner was arranged by the ITAT Bar Association of Mumbai, in honour of honourable Justice P. P. Bhatt on being appointed as the President of the ITAT and also in honour of the newely appointed Vice-Presidents.
A large number of professional attended the function and the honourable President and the Vice-presidents were felicitated by handing over the bouquet by the Lady-members of the Bar Association.
Shri Y. P. Trivedi, Senior Advocate and the Past president of the Bar Association conducted the felicitation function.
(In the video, Justice (Retd) P.P. Bhatt, talks about the reforms required in the ITAT. His stated that his priority is to reduce pendency of cases, infrastructure for Tribunal benches, appointment of adequate staff and enhancement of technology in administration. He noted that there are 90,000 appeals pending before the and that the value of the pending litigation is about Rs. 1.5 lakh crore.)