Since nobody is appearing for respondent in many matters we are unable to get any assistance from the Revenue. This is only one such matter. This is notwithstanding, this court informing the CIT (Judicial) who was present in the court on two or three occasions on directions of this court about problems which the court faces in hearing and disposing the matters because of total lack of assistance from the Revenue. Cause lists are prepared and released in advance and it was the bounden duty and responsibility of Revenue to ensure that in all matters lawyers were present and Revenue was represented. We have to observe that this casual and don’t care approach on the part of Revenue has been going on for a long time. It is a colossal waste to the nation as public money is involved in all these matters pertaining to the tax department. There are three officers always present in the court who are also of no assistance to this court and we are also not aware who is the lawyer supposed to represent Revenue in each of these matters. No vakalatnama also is filed in the old matters though counsel has appeared for Revenue at the admissions stage.
2. Earlier also a similar order was passed in Income Tax Appeal No. 1916 of 2017 dated 15th November, 2021.
11. We have to note that this is one more appeal filed in a ritualistic manner which has unnecessarily taken up the scarce time of this court. The Commissioner of Income Tax and CIT(Judicial) would do well to review all appeals filed and withdraw the same, in case the only challenge therein is to finding of facts and there is no evidence of perversity or in the fact of settled legal position. The Counsel of Revenue is directed to serve a copy of this order on the Law Secretary (Government of India), Central Board of Direct Taxes, Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (Maharashtra) and CIT (Judicial) for necessary action.
Paragraph No.19 in another matter, Ananta Landmark (P) Ltd. vs. Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax, Central Circle 5 (3), Mumbai 1 reads as under :
19. ……. As observed in Parashuram Pottery Works Co. Ltd.’s case (supra), it would be in the interest of citizens of India or we should say, civilization that those who are entrusted with the task of calculating and realising the price that we pay for the civilization should familiarise themselves with the relevant provisions and become well versed with the law on the subject. Any remissness on their part can only be at the cost of the national exchequer and must necessarily result in loss of revenue……. (emphasis supplied)
In this context, we must note that the Apex court way back in the year 1997 has observed in relation to a similar situation in the case of K.L. Pavunny v. Assistant Collector (HQ), Central Excise Collectorate, Cochin 2, as under:
“4. ……………………….. The Union of India should take care to entrust these sensitive cases of far-reaching effect, in particular on question of law, to Counsel who have experience and ability in that branch of law to defend their cases. Lest it is public justice that suffers and economy of the country” is put to jeopardy. Unfortunately, the Counsel did not make any effort to analyse the provisions of the act nor did he make investigation into question of law from the decisions rendered by this Court. At this juncture, it is further relevant to point out that when the Union of India has its panel of Counsel, they should see to it that work is assigned to the Counsel who can competently argue the case in that behalf lest, for lack of assistance, investigation and marshalling the questions of fact and law, public justice tends to suffer. We would greatly appreciate the Counsel appearing for the appellant who placed for consideration all aspects of the case on law and facts. It is, therefore, for the Secretaries of the Department of Law & Justice and Finance to look into the matter and set their house in order; equally, the Attorney General of India should also see that the affairs in the Central Agency in the Supreme Court are organised accordingly. We have pointed out all this only to express our deep anxiety as the burden on the Court is multiplied to undertake unto itself the task of investigating into all aspects to consider the case so as to reach satisfactory conclusion.”
Twenty Four years after the attention of the highest functionaries was invited to the alarming situation of lack of seriousness on the part of the revenue to take court proceedings seriously, it appears that the casual approach of revenue continues with impunity resulting in loss of public money.
No action seems to have been taken.
3. This court has, over the years, expressed its displeasure in the manner the Revenue has been casual and of no assistance to the court. Some of the orders/directions are as under. This list is not exhaustive. In
(i) CIT v. TCL India Holding Pvt. Ltd. (2016) / 241 Taxman 138 / 138 DTR 319/ 288 CTR 34 (Bom.)(HC), (dt.12.07.2016)
Strictures passed against department for casual and careless representation despite huge revenue implications. Dept. directed to take remedial measures such as updating the website, appointment of meritorious advocates, proper evaluation of work done by the advocates, ensuring even distribution of work amongst advocates etc. Prevailing practice of evaluating competence of advocates on basis of “cases won or lost” deplored. The Registry is directed to send a copy of this order on the Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax. (ITA No. 2287 of 2013, dt. 12.07.2016)
(ii) PCIT v. Starflex Sealing India Pvt. Ltd. (Bom.)(HC), (ITXA-130-2016 & ITXA-151-2016 (SR.7), dt. 27.06.2018) itatonline.org
(i) We are pained at this attitude on the part of the State to obtain orders of admission on pure questions of law by not pointing out that an identical question was considered by this Court earlier and dismissed by speaking order.
(ii) This is not for the first time that this has happened on the part of the Revenue. On an earlier occasion also, in the case of The CIT v. TCL India Holdings Pvt. Ltd. (ITA No. 2287 of 2013) on 6th May, 2016 on similar issue arising, we were assured by the Revenue that proper steps would be taken to ensure that the State takes a consistent view and decisions on any issue which are already taken by this Court would be informed to their Advocates who would also be continuously updated of the decisions taken by this Court on the questions of law. This is to ensure that there is consistency in the view taken by this Court. However, it appears that the Revenue has not carried out the assurance which was made to the Court.
(iii) We would expect the Revenue to look into this issue at the highest level and ensure that the State takes a consistent view and does not agitate matters on which the Court has already taken a view, without pointing out the earlier order of this Court to the subsequent Bench. It is possible that, there can be certain distinguishing features which may require the next Court to admit the question which has been otherwise dismissed by an earlier order. But this would not be an issue which could arise in the case of pure question of law as raised herein. The decision on the question raised is not related to and/or dependent upon finding upon any particular fact.
(iv) On the next occasion, we would expect a proper response from the Revenue and explanation as to why assurance given to us earlier that consistent view would be taken by the Revenue is not being followed. It is time, responsibility is fixed and the casual approach of the Revenue in prosecuting its appeals is stopped. We would also request the Additional Solicitor General to assist us on the next date
CONDUCT OF INCOME TAX OFFICERS
(iii) Zuari Foods and farms Pvt. Ltd. v. ACIT (2018) 408 ITR 279 (Bom.) (HC), (dt. 13.03.2018) itatonline.org
Court passed strictures against the AO for making comments which are highly objectionable and bordering on contempt and for being oblivious to law. (AY. 2013-14)
(iv) Piramal Fund Management (P.) Ltd. v. Dy. CIT (2016) 383 ITR 581 / 133 DTR 250 / 286 CTR 175 (Bom.)(HC) (dt. 17.03.2016)
AO refused the assessee to give acknowledgment to stay application however, accepts the application of stay for penalty. Subsequently, on service of writ petition on 23rd February, 2016 an immediate acknowledgment is given to the stay application dt. 17th February, 2016 received by him on 18th February, 2016. High Court passed strictures on such high-handed and unfair conduct of the AO and directed the CCIT to ensure that such behaviour of civil servants is not acceptable. Addl. CIT was directed to deal with the assessee’s stay application in accordance with law. (AY. 2012-13)
(v) CIT v. Parle Biisleri Ltd. (Bom)(HC); itatonline.org. (NM. No.1672 of 2017 in ITA No. 448 of 2014, dt. 28.08.2017.)
Tendency of the Revenue to either blame its’ Advocate or the procedural rules for the dismissal of their Appeals deprecated
NON-GRANT OF REFUND
Nu-Tech Corporate Services Ltd. v. ITO (2018) 259 Taxman 183/305 CTR 296/171 DTR 201 (Bom.)(HC). (dtd. 24.09.2018) www.itatonline.org
In view of negligent approach adopted by revenue authorities, impugned order passed by them was to be set aside and a direction was to be issued to grant refund to assessee along with applicable rate of interest. Court also held that Cost of ` 1.50 lakhs was levied on the revenue with in four weeks by the Officers from their salaries Superiors should enter their Annual confidential Reports these lapses and errors. Superiors must initiate the requisite steps and if they include denial of any promotional or monetary benefits to such officials, then, even such steps and measures be initiated in accordance with law. That is the minimal expectation of this Court. (AY. 1993-94, 1995-96, 2002-03)
Editorial : Strictures against DCIT and levy of personal cost of Rs.1.50 lakhs are expunged (SLP no 48031/2018 dt 1-03-2019) Sanjay Jain v. Nu-Tech Corporate Services Ltd. (SC) www.itatonline.org
(vii) Sicom Ltd. v. DCIT (Bom.)(HC) (WP. No. 2460 of 2018, dt. 01.10.2018) www.itatonline.org
It is in these circumstances that we hope and trust that some order and discipline should be brought as far as the aspect of Refund is concerned. Let the copy of this order be forwarded to the Principal Commissioner-3 and the Chairperson – Central Board of Direct Taxes. The needful be done by the Registry officials within two weeks from today.
4. Revenue is put to notice that in all the matters, for every adjournment where Revenue is not represented, this court will be constrained to impose substantial cost on the Revenue and may even consider it to be recovered from the concerned officer. CIT (Judicial) had informed the court that the CIT (Judicial) is incharge of all matters.
5. Copy of this order be sent for information and necessary action to Shri. Anil Singh, Additional Solicitor General of India (Maharashtra); Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (Maharashtra); CIT (Judicial), Mumbai; CIT (Judicial), Pune; Law Secretary (Government of India); the Hon’ble Finance Minister (Government of India); the Hon’ble Law Minister (Government of India); Central Board of Direct Taxes; Attorney General for India; and to the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s office.
6. We hope all concerned authorities realise that this inaction on the part of the officers of the Revenue is causing substantial loss to the state particularly in Writ Petitions where stay against the Revenue proceeding further in assessment matters, in particular, has been granted. As quoted above, any remissness on their part can only be at the cost of the national exchequer and must necessarily result in loss of revenue.
7. Stand over to 23rd December, 2021.