Report by Mr Shashi Bekal, Advocate
Honourable Prime Minster of India, Shri Narendra Modi paid rich Tribute to Income tax Appellate Tribunal for rendering “Nispaksh Sulabh Satvar Nyay” to the stake holders.
Honourable Prime Minster stated that the motto and vision of the Government is “Reform, Perform and Transform” – Tax system in India. Vision of virtual hearing of ITAT being a new normal, this will save the tax payers money, time and energy. Litigations will also be effective and efficient. Law & Order is the energy that will drive to achieve an Atma Nirbhar Bharat.
Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated a new state-of-the-art office-cum-residential complex of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) bench in Cuttack via video conferencing on November 11, 2020.
The Cuttack Bench of the ITAT was created and started functioning from 23rd May, 1970. The jurisdiction of Cuttack Bench extends to the whole of Odisha. The newly-built office-cum-residential complex of ITAT, Cuttack is spread over an area of 1.60 acres of land allotted by the State Government of Odisha free of cost in the year 2015. The total built-up area of the office complex is 1938 squaremeters over 3 floors including, inter alia, the spacious court room, ultra-modern record room, well-equipped chambers for the Members of the Bench, library room, well-equipped modern conference hall, with sufficient space for the litigants, bar room for Lawyers, Chartered Accountants, etc.
On this occasion, Mr. Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, the Honourable Law Secretary of India welcomed the dignitaries viz. Shri. Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri. Ravi Shankar Prasad,Union Minister holding the Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology and Communications, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Cabinet Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel, Shri. Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha, and Shri P. P. Bhatt, President of ITAT.
Honourable Justice Shri P. P. Bhatt, President of ITAT stated that the ITAT, is an important statutory body in the field of direct taxes and its orders are accepted as final, on findings of fact.ITAT was the first Tribunal to be created on 25th January, 1941. It is also known as ‘Mother Tribunal’. It will complete 80 years since in 2021.The motto of ITAT is “Nispaksh Sulabh Satvar Nyay”, which means impartial, easy and speedy justice. The ITAT is nationally and globally appreciated for its work. The United Nations have prepared a case study on the efficiency of the Tribunal. Although the required strength of the Tribunal is around 126 members; it has been functioning well with just 80 members. ITAT has been effectively using these facilities to conduct ‘Virtual Hearings’ during the lockdown period due to ‘Covid-19 pandemic’. During this period, ITAT has disposed of 7,251 cases as against 3,778 cases filed. The pecuniary jurisdiction of an appeal to the tribunal has been raised to Rs. 50 lakhs which has considerably reduced the number of departmental appeals and improved its efficiency. Another item on their agenda was the infrastructural aspect, and that too has undergone several upgrades under the leadership and supervision of this administration.
Honourable Shri. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister holding the Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology and Communications stated that he appreciates the help extended by the state government is promptly allotting the land for building the Cuttack bench of ITAT and such an act has helped in fortifying the Law & Order of this Nation. The ITAT is the first Tribunal of our Nations and its orders have been appreciated by various High Courts and the Hon’ble Supreme Court and therefore it is important that the ITAT has a robust infrastructure. This administration has taken immense efforts to improve efficiency and transparency. Further, the act of demonetization has brought in several people within the tax nets thereby generating revenue for the government. Tax cuts have also helped the honest tax payers. The Prime Minister’s idea of digitalisation has really come in handy during the period of COVID19
Honourable Shri. Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha rose to the occasion and stated that although the Cuttack bench was started in 1970, it was important to revamp the infrastructure. With the E-court facility provided in the new building with good connectivity facility, the Cuttack Bench will be able to hear and dispose of even the appeals pending with other benches in the Kolkata Zone which are presently non-functional such as Ranchi, Patna and Guwahati.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister,Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the new state-of-the-art office-cum-residential complex of the ITAT Cuttack Bench with the press of a button. On this occasion, an e-Coffee Table Book on ITAT along with an e-Book on ‘Reforms in Direct Taxes since 2014’ was also released.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister with his palms together praised Lord Jagannath for his blessings. He stated that the Cuttack bench will now be equipped to hear to hear and dispose of even the appeals pending with other benches. With the development of technology, it is imperative to keep pace with the same. It is a matter of great pride that the ITAT has been able to adjudicate a number of cases during the lockdown.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister quoted a verse of great Indian poet Goswami Tulsidas. He explained the verse stating that when rain pours down, everyone is benefitted, however, when the sun extracts water for forming clouds there is no pinch felt by anyone. The revenue collection and application policy should be similar. The government runs on a similar vision. The tax payer is witnessing great reforms, e.g. in prompt receipt of refund, amnesty schemes, faceless assessment/appeals, reduction in tax terrorism, improvement in transparency. There is a change in the mindset of tax administration too. Corporate tax has also has been reduced. Manufacturing sectors have been given special tax privileges. DDT has been abolished. Ease of doing business have been greatly improved in the last 5 years. India is amongst the few nations with a tax payer’s charter with legislative sanction. Further, scrutiny is initiated only in .25 per cent of the returns filed.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister has a vision of virtual hearing of ITAT being a new normal, this will save the tax payers money, time and energy. Litigations will also be effective and efficient. Law & Order is the energy that will drive to achieve an Atma Nirbhar Bharat.