NEW DELHI: Despite repeated directions from the Supreme Court to fill up vacancies in country’s various Income Tax Appellate Tribunals, the government is yet to fill up the posts in ITATs which have a huge pendency of over 94,000 cases. The post of President, five posts of Vice President and 23 Members (Judicial/Accountant) are lying vacant in the 27 ITATs that are spread across several states and Union Territories in India. The statistics regarding functioning of ITATs were disclosed by law minister Ravi Shankar and Minister of State for law and Justice PP Chaudhary in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Earlier, on several occasions this year, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Central government for delay in filling up vacancies in the ITATs. There were many assurances by the Centre too. In fact in April, this year, the Centre had told the apex court that the appointments to the ITAT will be completed within three weeks. Even last week, the government had told the Supreme Court that the process of filling vacancies in Income Tax Appellate Tribunals (ITAT) across India is at an advanced stage and the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet was looking into it.
But the reality seems very different from the promises. According to the latest government data, number of appointments made to ITATs this year is even lesser than the appointments made in 2015. Of the total five vacancies for Presidents in different ITATs, none of them have been filled this year. In 2015, one president was appointed. Also, just one member has been appointed so far this year to ITAT as against to 33 appointments made in 2015.
The court had earlier pulled up the Centre over the delay in the appointments, saying that the ITAT was one of the key sources of revenue earning for the government, which was still moving at a snail’s pace in filling up the vacancies.
The court made the observations remarks while hearing a petition filed by one Akshay Pundir, contending that ad hocism has become order of the day as many of the posts of senior vice presidents and vice presidents have not been filled up. The petition contended that timely appointment of Presidents, Vice- Presidents and members will go a long way in tackling the burgeoning tax litigations in the country.