Rewriting the law to clearly empower high courts to condone a delay in filing tax appeals or applications has been recommended by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT); it wants this to apply with retrospective effect, too. The amendment, official sources said, is expected to be proposed in the Union Budget.
The proposed amendment, if comes through, will be similar to the one announced in Budget 2009-10 for the excise department. That had empowered HCs to pardon delays, albeit for genuine reasons, in filing appeals or applications or objections by the excise department.
The law was unclear on the authority to so condone; after it went through, many more excise cases have been admitted in the courts. Tax issues face a similar situation; CBDT says many are dismissed, with courts saying they are not empowered to condone delay. The only option, then, is to go to the Supreme Court, a complex affair.
Shortage of staff, say officials, is a major reason for such delays. That would, it says, count as a genuine reason for condonation; if allowed retrospective effect, many dimissed cases could be reinstated. “In many instances, the stand of the department is logical and backed with enough precedence, but has been dismissed only because of delay in filing a counter-appeal, ” said a source.