Citizens aggrieved by the orders of income tax assessing officers may soon find earlier resolution of their appeals before the Commissioners of Income Tax (CIT), the first appellate authority for such disputes. The department of revenue has constituted a committee to monitor the huge number of cases locked in such appeals and suggest a plan for 2010-11 to increase their disposal.

An official said cases involving an amount of more than Rs 2 lakh crore are held up with the 287 CIT. On an average, it takes a CIT between one and two years to dispose a case. “The committee will suggest how work load should be monitored, so that there is faster resolution of cases. It might recommend more CIT or suggest the government to bring down litigation to reduce time and cost,” said an official in the finance ministry, who did not wish to be quoted.

The five-member committee comprises a chief commissioner of income tax as chairperson, three commissioners as members, and an additional commissioner as member-secretary. It will examine how good the system is for evaluation or appraisal of the performance of CIT and suggest how to improve the quality of their orders. The committee has been given time till May 31 to give its report. It can co-opt more members and take the help of other officers.

The panel has also been asked to look into infrastructure and manpower constraints and suggest ways to address these. It will suggest how many CIT are required to dispose the existing workload, keeping in mind the trends.

Under Section 246A of the Income Tax Act, a person can appeal before a commissioner of income tax for safeguard against erroneous, unjust or invalid orders. Any party not satisfied with the order of a CIT can appeal to the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal and further to a High Court or the Supreme Court.

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  1. TUYDIB says:

    It would have been better if the govt. had constituted a committee of retired officers with vast field experience. It is high time the govt. restores power of setting aside assessments to Appeal commissioners. It is also necessary to specifically and explicitly empower them with powers to grant stay and installments to appellants. Appellate history in the department is very old and great. All old practitioners of taxation laws know this. The quality of orders of the then AACs is not seen in the appeal commissioners’ orders. Hence it is necessary to revive this once-prestigious post.

  2. TIRA.T says:

    One sincerely hopes that this panel is constituted by those officers who have considerable experience in assessment, representation before the ITAT, exposure to appellate work (with documentary evidence of markedly quality orders/decisions) and hands-on experience of working in the areas dealing with tax payers.
    Most of the CCITs and CITs(A) themselves are blissfully ignorant of the laws, case laws (for the department no longer wants any officer to learn and become really expert)or even the procedures, leaving the job of drafting orders/decisions to their sub-ordinates and, mostly, the practitioners themselves (as is also done in the ITAT on a wide scale).

    The CITs in charge of appeals lack sufficient experience of framing assessment orders, hence the question of independently handling appeals and drafting appellate orders on their own does not arise. Most of the CCITs are in worse state even. They are not even not known to be able to dictate their own leave applications!

    The appellate orders are very sketchy, mainly made up of quotes from the orders of the lower authorities or of the extracts from the written submissions of the tax payers’ representatives. In such cases, the authors are usually the CITs(A) or their staff. But where, though in favour of the appellants, there is some semblance of correct grammatical construction of sentences or correct/proper citations of decisions of High Courts or the Supreme Court, etc., without much quote from either of the two above-said sources, it can be blindly and conclusively said that the orders are indeed not original-i.e., not from the pen of the signing authority!

    There is another class of orders, and a very large number too-very brief, no logic, no proper, relevant and correct citations, no reference to/discussion of the facts/earlier decisions of predecessors, and totally baseless and lamentably poor quality orders-and all invariably in favour of the respondent (i.e., the AO), just to abide by the requisite numbers and/or to show the result of the appellants’ failure “to pay”.

    It is an ideal case of “darkness in noon” in this once learned department, now in the hands of totally incompetent, inefficient, corrupt but exceptionally influential by dint of money power acquired through bribes, officers. They are busier in calculating the time to reach the top, maneuvering postings, getting false passports for often going abroad, acquiring/constructing benami properties, buying superiors’ expensive favours, and the like. There are hundreds of cases being disposed of by CITs(A) without serving notices, or never disposing of valid stay petitions, etc. And bib’s your uncle! They are the class of officers who supersedes their efficient and competent (but, sadly, honest) colleagues and reach places-even the top-without ever contributing anything whatsoever by their labour/hard work or knowledge to the fund of knowledge once built up.
    Added to this is the menace created by an omniscient FM who in his wisdom had done away with the age old system of the CIT(A) being empowered to set aside assessments. That omnipotent and omniscient legal legend did not know that this enabled the corrupt appellate commissioners and the CIT/Addl.CIT/AO join hands to make a cartel to extract bribes from the tax payer-of course with the connivance of the representatives and open/patent patronage of the top bosses!

    So, the constitution of the panel is merely an eyewash and for officers from several corners to accumulate their Frequent Flier Points!

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