My affectionate and respected fellow members in the Federation and all other brothers and sisters in the profession.
Once again month after month, the President of the Federation through his communiqué is before all of you.
In the last edition of the Journal, the Chief Editor Dr. K. Shivaram in his editorial address briefed the Hon’ble members about the impact of issue of 3 notifications by the Government of India to be effective from 1-4-2016 excluding the senior advocates from the purview of reverse charge mechanism in respect of the provision of legal services by them and it is also stated by him that the Federation would do the needful to redress the grievance of senior members of the bar in an appropriate and apt manner.
Dear brothers and sisters of AIFTP family, it is to be brought to your notice that the Notification Nos. 9, 18 and 19 of 2016-ST dated 1-3-2016 denotifying the senior advocates from the exemption from payment of service tax on legal services provided by the individual advocates or firm of partnership of advocates and also removing the senior advocates from the operation reverse charge mechanism, were directed to be given effect from 1-4-2016. The three notifications were assailed in writ jurisdiction in the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in W.P. No. 10350/2016; in W.P. No. 291/2016 in the High Court of Judicature at Kolkata; Special Civil Application No. 4926/2016 in the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad and W.P. (Civil) Nos. 2891 & 2892 of 2016 in the High Court of Delhi on the ground of discrimination, arbitrariness and hostile treatment violating Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India and also on the ground that the levy of service tax on the value of professional fee billed on advocates on record at whose behalf the legal services are rendered by him as Senior Advocate, in which case there would be double levy and payment of such service tax, once by the senior advocate before the stipulated date of succeeding month by filing the stipulated return and also by the service recipient through reverse charge mechanism and in such case the senior advocate would not be refunded the service tax paid by him notwithstanding, the non-receipt of the payment of the bill either in full or part by the Advocate on record. High Courts of Judicature at Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Delhi were pleased to order stay of operation of the notifications while the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad ordered notice to the Union of India and others for reply.
Thus the effort of the Federation in the most desired area of professional interest is worth noticing and recognisable. We also hope that the Ministry of Finance would consider the issue for a fresh look and reversal action.
It is also to be noted that the Government of India finally prepared Memorandum of Procedure for appointment and transfer of Chief Justices and Judges of High Courts and it is hoped that the newly prepared MoP would enable the parties responsible for the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary to fill up the alarming number of vacancies of 465 in various High Courts as against the approved strength of 1056.
Thus it so appears that nearly 45% of the sanctioned strength of judges posts in various High Courts in the country have been vacant almost all for the past one year. In the words of the present Chief Justice of India, the pendency of cases in various forums in our country is around 3.20 crore and accordingly to the Hon’ble Chief Justice, another century will be required to clear the backlog of the pendency of the cases. The Federation in all optimism, hopes and expects, positively that at least 50% vacant position of judges in the High Courts would soon be filled up with the active assistance of the newly prepared MoP, Indian Bar and it is further hoped that in the process of appointing the judges to the High Courts due and appropriate place of legitimate importance would be evinced and shown towards one of the most important branches of law in today’s society namely the taxation law and would be given its due share for the well-being of the society, for, it is an indisputable fact that revenue is the backbone as well as heartbeat for the growth of any nation. Simply because, revenue is required and the States are starved for resources, it cannot be gainsaid that the revenue/fiscal can be whimsical or fanciful for impose or collection and the fiscal levy should always be within the permissible Constitutional contours but not otherwise.
We accordingly make a humble requisite representation to the Hon’ble President of India, Chief Justice of India, the Judiciary and finally the Union of India to recognise and realise the paramount importance for judges of efficacy and national integrity coupled with all merit to keep up the dignity, majesty and decorum of the Indian Judiciary which has got an unimpeachable and unshakeable reputation and image in the universe.
Finally as the National President of the Federation it is our bounden duty to work for the overall and unique welfare and growth of every professional brother and sister both within and outside the family of AIFTP and in a scenario of significant and drastic changes taking place at the National Level, time has come for all the institutes of professional interest to come together, imbibe together, work together, think together and finally march together for the overall benefit of one and all and it is earnestly hoped that the spirit behind this call and the object and purpose of the constructive role of the Federation as the elder brother is well-understood and appreciated.
One more request to all my professional brothers and sisters is to strengthen the voice of the professional fraternity namely the AIFTP journal and work for its ever-growing circulation.
Dr. M. V. K. Moorthy