Dawn of A New Era: E-Hearing Before The Tribunal

Necessity is the mother of all invention, as the proverb goes, on April 24, 2020, the Mumbai Bench of the Hon’ble Income tax Appellate Tribunal (‘ITAT’) presided by Hon’ble Justice P. P. Bhat, President and Hon’ble Mr. Pramod Kumar, Vice President, conducted a hearing via video conferencing, the first of its kind.

The assessee had filed a stay application via email and sought urgent hearing on their petition, so that no coercive measures are taken by the department for recovery of demand. Considering it to be a fit issue, the ITAT granted a stay on merits and fixed the matter for a suitable date.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (‘OECD’) on March 16, 2020 outlined a range of emergency tax measures that governments could adopt to curb an economic fallout, inter alia was to suspend the recovery of taxes and enhancement of services & communication.

Although, most of the measures were adopted by the Finance Ministry vide Taxation and other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020 dated March 24, 2020, no measures were adopted with respect to suspending the recovery of taxes or to enhance services & communication.

The ITAT has really stepped up to safeguard the interest of the tax payer. They have not only stayed the recovery proceedings in such difficult time but also challenged the traditional communication process. This will set an example for people who are under the wrong impression that tax terrorism is prevalent in our Country.

This has pioneering act has certainly changed the future of Tribunal. It is urged that the ITAT, Rules 1963 are suitably amended to ensure proper Legislative sanction, so that this can set a tone for future proceedings of the Tribunal.

A thought for debate.

Dr. K Shivaram
Chairman, Editorial Board

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