Hon’ble Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister of Law & Justice Hand Electronics & Information Technology, inaugurated Surat bench of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, on 1st September, 2017. Hon’ble Shri P.P.Chaudhary, Union Minister of State for Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology, was the Guest of Honor of the function. Hon’ble Members of Parliament Shri C. R. Paatil, Smt. Darshana Jarodsh, Dr. K. C. Patel, Shri Manuskhbhai D. Vasva, and Shri Nathubhai G. Patel were also present on the occasion.

Surat is 28 city in the country to have a bench of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. As of now, it has over 3,000 appeals pending for disposal, which is more than double the average pendency per bench all over the country. The new bench will have jurisdiction in respect of the taxpayers assessed to tax by the Assessing Officers in Surat, Bharuch, Dang, Narmada, Navsari, Tapi, Valsad and Union Territories of Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Owing to unsatisfactory air connectivity and time taking road journey between Surat and Ahmedabad, tax professionals were finding it very difficult to make day trips to Ahmedabad in connection with the ITAT engagements. With the setting up of this bench, a long pending demand of tax professionals in South Gujarat is met.

Hon’ble Union Law Minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, on this occasion, exhorted the tax professionals to advise their clients to start paying tax with honesty, and remain within laxman rekha  of tax planning and not venture into tax shield through unfair means. This distinction between tax planning and tax evasion, the Hon’ble Minister urged, must be maintained and respected at all costs. Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad assured the distinguished audience that the Government is committed to resolving all grievances of taxpayers in a speedy and efficient manner. He assured the gathering that, as demonstrated by his setting up of Surat bench and thus meeting twenty year old demand of tax professionals, within few months of matter having been brought to his notice earlier this year, he is deeply committed to serving the stakeholders in truly responsive manner as speedily as possible- which is true hallmark of this Government. He assured the audience that whenever a genuine demand of the stakeholders is brought to his notice, they will not find him wanting in taking swift and appropriate action on the same.

Hon’ble Shri P P Chaudhary, Union Minister of State for Law & Justice, paid rich tribute to the ITAT. He emphasized that the ITAT is doing excellent work in dispensing justice and has become an inspiration for the many other Tribunals being set up successfully in the country. Hon’ble Minister also recalled the fond association that the late jurist Nani Palkhivala had with the ITAT. He reminded the distinguished audience that the continued effectiveness of the institution depends greatly on the credibility and stature of people practicing in the forum, as also on the people manning the institution. He urged all stakeholders to maintain the highest standards of conduct, knowledge and professionalism in their work, and to find innovative methods for effectively reducing the mounting pendency. Hon’ble Minister also explained, at length, the good work being done by the Government in the field of the tax reforms and the GST.

Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, in co-operation with ITAT Bar Association Surat, Chartered Accountants Association Surat, Surat branch of the Western India Regional Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, organized a public function to mark this occasion. The inaugural function was preceded, in the early morning session, by a workshop on ‘Effective Representation before the ITAT”conducted by Shri Ajay Wadhva, President, ITAT Bar Association, New Delhi, and succeeded by, in the afternoon session, a Moot Court to familiarize the young tax professionals with the actual working of the proceedings in the ITAT’s court rooms. The Moot Court was conducted by the sitting Members of the ITAT, led by Shri Rajpal Yadav, Judicial Member, ITAT, Ahmedabad.

Shri G. D. Agrawal, Hon’ble President Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Shri Pramod Kumar, Hon’ble Sr Member, Ahmedabad Zone, Shri C. M. Garg and Shri O. P. Meena, Hon’ble Members of the new bench, Shri Rajiv Nabar, Principal Commissioner of Income Tax, Shri P. M. Shah, President South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Shri R. N. Vyapari, President ITAT Bar Association, Shri Rases Shah, President, Surat Chartered Accountants Association, Hon’ble Members of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Ahmedabad benches, and, apart from eminent local citizens and Government officials, a large number of chartered accountants and lawyers from Surat, neighboring places in South Gujarat as well as Ahmedabad were present on the occasion.

The setting up of Surat bench is very well received, with enthusiasm, by all the stakeholders.

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