The Rajasthan Tax Consultants Association and the Jaipur Tax Tribunal Bar have resolved to file a Writ Petition in the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court to challenge the alleged inaction by the Government and the Hon’ble President of the ITAT against the alleged corrupt practices of the Hon’ble Accountant Member Shri. B. R. Jain, presently posted at the Jaipur Bench of the Tribunal.
It has been alleged that similar allegations against the said Member have been made earlier as well during his postings at Jodhpur, Lucknow, Agra etc but that on each occasion he has been “protected” by certain vested interests and that no inquiry was conducted into the allegations of corruption. It is also claimed that when senior members of the Bar met the said Member and requested him to conduct matters in a judicial manner, he became “more agitated and rude in his behavior and decided to unsettle the settled issues where his demand was not met and openly encouraged corruption and indulged in corruption”. It is also claimed that several representations and meetings with the Hon’ble President of the Tribunal have not met with any success and that the prestige of the Tribunal is now at risk.
It may be recalled that the said two Bar Associations had on an earlier occasion resolved to boycott the Jaipur Bench till the Hon’ble B. R. Jain remained posted there.
It may also be recalled that the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court has recently passed severe strictures against the Jaipur Bench of the Tribunal in CIT vs. Ram Singh.
The said two Bar Associations have also decided to challenge the inaction of the Government in not appointing a permanent President of the Tribunal. It has been pointed out this is the first time in the glorious history of the ITAT that it has remained without a permanent President for such a long period of time. It is stated that the non-appointment of a permanent President has paralyzed the affairs of the Tribunal because the officiating President is unable to take bold decisions (such as strict action against alleged corrupt Members), which are necessary for the independence of the Tribunal.
It may be noted that on the issue of alleged corruption, the ITAT Bar Association, Mumbai, has adopted a Zero-Tolerance policy as is brought by its resolution1 and resolution2. The Bar has also sought a judicial probe into the allegations. Further, the Bar has also constituted an Anonymous Complaints’ Enquiry Committee, comprising of eminent professionals, to look into charges of corruption.
On the issue of appointment of a permanent President of the Tribunal, the ITAT Bar Association, Mumbai, has been relentlessly following up the matter with the Government as is borne out by the representations dated 18.3.2011, 23.04.2012, 03.07.2013 and 14.04.2014. The AIFTP has also taken up the matter vide representation dated 18.03.2011. The ITAT Bar Association has also publicly raised the issue with articles such as Dear Govt, Will You Act To Save ITAT Only After High Court Reprimands You?, Dear Law Minister, Please Spare A Moment For The Welfare Of The Tribunal, Crores Of Revenue Locked Up In Litigation But No Money For ITAT Working? and Wanted Urgently: President For The Tribunal.
Unfortunately, none of these entreaties have had any impact on the decision makers so far. It remains to be seen whether the Writ Petition in the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court will change the position in a positive way.