CA Sandeep Kanoi
Social Media is a term which is very frequently used nowadays and been considered as a powerful weapon, which has the capacity to bring changes. In this Article I have discussed in a brief about Social Media and its role in extension of Due Date of Income Tax Returns from 31.10.2015 in few states to 31.10.2015 across the country.
What is Social Media?
Social media are computer-mediated tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks and it depends on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content.
Facebook is an online social networking service headquartered in Menlo Park, California. Its website was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg with his Harvard College roommates and fellow students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.
WhatsApp is an instant messaging app for smartphones that operates under a subscription business model. The proprietary, cross-platform app uses the Internet to send text messages, images, video, user location and audio media messages.
Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”.
Recently CBDT has extended the due date for Filing of Income Tax Return (ITR) and Tax Audit Report (TAR) to 31.10.2015 on 30.09.2015 in the state of Punjab & Haryana , Gujarat and Territory of Chandigarh while keeping the due dates as 30.09.2015 for all other states and union territories. CBDTs such move has drawn a lots of criticism from CA Community, Tax Payers , Businessman’s, Trade Associations and from General People of the Country.
Those affected by the CBDTs move of extending due date arbitrarily for few states has not gone well with the residents of the Country and they criticised the move and flooded the Facebook and Twitter wall of those who were responsible for such mess or who failed to take appropriate step at appropriate time.
Those who were criticised includes mainly the following :-
i. CBDT Chief for her adamant attitude and all officials of CBDT for not making her realise the ground realities
ii. Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley for his failure to Control bureaucrats and impart justice,
iii. Prime Minster Narendra Modi for his Failure to bring Äcche Din” for professionals who works day and night to ensure that residents of country comply with Tax and Corporate Law of the Country
iv. ICAI President for his failure to take any bold step to ensure that government accept their reasonable demand.
v. All the Members of Regional and Central Council of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India for their failure to get the date extended and for involving in competition for taking the credit for extension of due date without making any effort for the same.
After Considering the Peoples response on these Social Platforms, CBDT has within a day after passing the discriminatory Orders which allowed extension for few states and not for others comes in a damage control mode and by Notification dated 01.10.2015 they issued a new order by which they extended the due date to 31.10.2015 for all the states. CBDT has given the following Reasons for extension of due date to across the country,
1. In order to avoid discrimination between taxpayers residing in different jurisdictions and to be fair to all,
2. and also in view of paucity of time to approach the Hon’ble Supreme Court by way of Special Leave Petition
Now question which arises here is do CBDT was not aware on 30.09.2015 that they are creating discrimination by allowing extension to few sates of the country and what made them realise in few hours that they are not left with Much time to file SLP in Supreme Court?
Was it a Pressure from Social Media or was it the fear that non extending the extension to the whole India may amount to contempt of Court as Court has not restricted the extension to any particular Jurisdiction?
We have asked Some of the Members from the Industry regarding this and they have commented as follows –
CA Sanjiv Agarwal from Jaipur said that Social Media has not played any significant role but it was more of pressure coming from judgments of various high courts.
CA Satish Sarda from Nagpur said that there is no doubt Social Media played a great role in Extension. Actually speaking it exposed the CBDT’s Antisocial role in harassing the Taxpayers and CA fraternity. Social Media’s role can be summarized in following points: 1. Online communication of status of appeals filed in different courts by different persons. 2. Uniting the stakeholders across the country. 3. Mobilising mass opinion and reaction resulting in putting political pressure. 4.Informing the masses about CBDT’s delay in bringing the ITR forms thus exposing their misdeeds. 5. Informing about various court decisions instantly. And the height of use of social media was visible when the Revenue Secretary without waiting for the notification took the use of Twitter.
CA Bimal Jain from Delhi Said that Social media has played important role for raising a strong demand, especially from Chartered Accountants for extending the due date for filing income tax returns of assessee, who are mandatorily required to get their accounts audited. Various groups on WhatsApp, Social Networking Websites, and Professional Forums etc., from different parts of the Country raised the problems faced by assessee & Trade and submitted numerous representations to the CBDT for extension of due date and such social groups played an important role undoubtedly to draw the attention of bureaucracy including attention of the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister.
CA Umesh Sharma from Aurangabad commented that Social media has played very important role as Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter have reach throughout the India and has Provided those effected a platform to act or express their opinions. Further IAS, IRS, Tax and Government authorities who also have presence on Social Media has received numerous messages for demand for extension and same has surely affected their decision as they realise the anger of the people due to non extension of due date.
CA Sanjeev Lalan from Mumbai said that he thinks Social media played a very limited role and its the serious observations by Courts were more pursuasive in this whole avoidable controversy. He further said that There needs to be more accountability enforcement in so far as administrative machinery is concerned.
CA Nitesh More from Kolkata said on Power of Social Media and its role in extension of ITR and TAR due date that that for First Time in history, Govt used social media for extension news & for tendering apology to CA Fraternity which itself shown that Social Media has become very significant and relevant nowadays.
CA Amresh Vashisht from Meerut has said that Definitely social media is the biggest tool in the hands of justice seekers now. Our court cases originated from the social media. Petitions, their fine points and strategy to move or withdrawal is because of social media interaction. The best part of social media is its speed. Last year, the spell of orders in favour of fraternity followed by this year verdicts clearly shows that we are uniting our efforts and force authorities to rectify the others decisions. This year the efforts of fraternity were smarter and matured. But this annual competition should come to an end and now I am hopeful that there shall not be another round of tussle on such issue next year.
But we have to take precautions also as suggested by our Ex President CA Amarjit Chopra . I would like to share his FB post .
“For the last few days I am indeed “impressed” with the smart operation of various Chambers of Commerce. Be it FICCI, CII or Assocham, none of their representatives uttered even a single word in the matter of extension of time for TAR and ITR. It is their members who are liable to obtain TAR and file ITR before the specified date failing which they would be liable to pay penalties and interest. We as CAs are appointed by them to perform Tax Audit and file their returns with no liability for penalties or interest in case they fail to get the same done within the specified date.
But look at it who is fighting a pitched battle against Govt. for the extension of date, not the Chambers but we. We are using social media using all kind of language against the Govt., and industry does not even bother about the whole thing. Let us not be used by anyone.
What happened today is most unfortunate. The Govt. could have been magnanimous and extended the date for all States particularly because by evening more than 90-95 percent of returns would have been filed. It would not have resulted in material non collection of revenue as well.
It is high time that every party starts fresh forgetting the past and that would be in the best interest of the nation. Also I repeat at the cost of repetition that this issue in first place should be raised by Chambers.”
BJP government who has come into power with help of Social Media Campaign run by them during election against the than ruling governments knows the power of Social Media very well and must have sensed the resentment of people of India as can be seen from the Tweet of Dr Hasmukh Adhia who is Financial Services Secretary in Ministry of Finance of Government of India in which he has said that ” I sense the resentment of group of CAs. We apologise to them. We will make sure that forms are notified well in advance next year.”
We have listed some of the comments from our Readers made by them on our website criticising the move . In comments readers has not only criticised the move but also question the validity of such move-
Bharathi – It is central board of direct taxes? never i think its some state board of direct taxes.
Samiinathan- CBDT Has Lowered The Image Of The Govt & Finance Minister. They Can Create A Separae Law For Each State. BJP Has Been Put In Bad Light Because Of A Few Officials And Made PC Better Than AJ.
Rajenfra- Until today it was known that such and such law is applicable to whole of india except the sate of jammu & kashmir, but from today we have something which applies to whole of india except punjab, haryana, chandigarh & gujarat…….. making of the new era ???????????
Shyam Lal Naik – A High Court judgment on a central law has pan India application, unless there are contrary judgment of jurisdictional High Court. The action on the part of CBDT is against the court’s verdict and is contempt of Court. It appears that the Government is looking at penalties etc to fill it’s coffers. It wishes to enrich itself at the cost of Citizens’ suffering.
CA Hitesh – British Raj legacy well kept – Divide and Rule. Well done CBDT. Deserve one more ” Prime Minister’s award for excellence in Public Administration”. Year on year problem!!! CBDT is manned (womanned) by adamant officers. Never happend in the history. Is this the ease in doing business in India?
Rajiv Sharma – This Act of CBDT is against the national interest where there notification demarcated the assessees on account of geographical parameters within India. Moreover it shows the dictator attitute of the CBDT towards the public at large and also sort of showing superior then the Hon’ble High Courts. Such acts of CBDT will tarnish the image and standing of the BJP Govt especially our worthy Prime Minister who has been continuously trying for the market to make in India.
Advocate P N Rajan – In-equality, ends of justice do not meet as the extension applies only for certain states in India when the problem is faced by the entire public of India. CBDT is doing a commendable job in separating Indian states.
Rangoonwala -CA– It Seems Persons Sitting At The Helm Of The Affairs At CBDT Are Interested In Harassing CA and Tax Paying Indians.
Rajesh- Honestly speaking these guys at CBDT do not understand the Powers of Hon High Courts under A.226/227 (Writ Power). These writs are invoked by the High Court (Any High Court) in case the officials action is not as per law and questionable. These writs have pan India implications and CBDT cannot be choosy. Not only bosses of CBDT but their legal advisers should be sent to basic training. Our country deserve better people, they are making a la Gajndra Chauhan type case here at CBDT. I thought our FM was an intelligent fellow, sorry Jetliji, you have done us no proud.
More comment can be checked on the following post-
What we may Conclude is that extension by CBDT Authorities was mainly to Comply with the Instructions of Judicial Authorities but we can not undermine the Role of Social Media which also played a significant role in the process as for the first time we have seen ICAI Members so Active on Social Media to oppose the Unjust and arbitrary moves of CBDT.
I hope that from next year onward CBDT will release Income Tax Return forms well in time in compliance with High Court directions, will act reasonably and will consider the genuine difficulties faced by Professionals in a positive manner.
In my article although I have not discussed about the petitioners who have filed writ with various high courts across the country, as my Article has focused only on Extension of due date from few states to across the country but role of the petitioners and those who worked with them cannot be undermined and they deserve big applauds for the courageous action taken by them.