Government Moots More Benches to Clear Pending I-T Cases
NEW DELHI: In order to generate revenue for the government, the law ministry is all set to create special courts to dispose of over 90,000 pending income tax-related cases involving millions of rupees across India and also to fill up the existing vacancies at various benches.
Income Tax Appellate Tribunal created across the country hears all income tax-related cases. The tribunal is entrusted with the task of deciding intricate questions of law and fact.
Usually a faulty income tax filing is first taken to the Income Tax Commissioner. After the commissioner’s orders, it may go to the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), then to High Court and then to the Supreme Court, if required. Such cases can take two to three years at the ITAT and another five to eight years at the High Court and then the Supreme Court.
To end this unnecessary litigation, government also keeps on introducing various schemes for the tax defaulters to pay the fines and penalties from time to time to ease off the burden of cases.
“We have issued necessary instructions to the existing benches to scrutinise and identify cases which are covered by decisions of ITAT, High Courts and the Supreme Court and post them for hearing on priority basis,” said a senior law ministry official, adding that disposing of would attract revenue for the government. “We are in the process of identifying states where income tax cases are on the rise and accordingly we will create benches for the region so that pendency can be cleared on priority,” the official added.
There are 63 sanctioned benches of the ITAT wherein the required strength of the members is 126 and presently have 78 members and some of the benches are not regularly functioning resulting in increase of pendency of cases. “Due to inadequate number of members, several benches of the tribunal have become non-functional causing difficulties to litigants and increase in pendency of appeals. There is an urgent need to introduce e-court/e-benches so that the cases can be cleared on priority,” the law official added.
The e-courts are now functioning at 11 stations, including Nagpur, Patna, Guwahati, Visakhapatnam, Cuttack and Panaji to name few.
The modernisation of the ITAT official website has also been done to deliver judicial and general information to the public. Dynamic information like cause lists, constitution, case status, order search are available at a click.
At the beginning of 2013, the pendency of appeals was 70,820 with 87 members working and in 2014 it rose to 83,732 with 78 members working. This rise in pendency of cases was the result of vacancies.
Similarly, the Appellate Tribunal for Foreign Exchange (ATFE), which was established to hear FEMA cases, is also not working with its full strength. The post of the chairperson is vacant since March 2011. It has given rise to pendency to 811 appeals.