Constitution of National Tribunal Commission
Recently I came across a news about the Apex Court directing the Central Government to constitute a National Tribunal Commission for the appointment of members in various Tribunals. The Supreme Court has also directed formation of a separate wing in the Ministry of Finance to cater to the need of the Tribunal till the Commission is fully operational. The Supreme Court further directed the Centre to amend the rule to make Advocates with ten-years practice eligible for appointment as judicial member in the Tribunal. The petition was filed by Madras Bar Association in which the Hon’ble Supreme Court has given several directions to amend the Tribunal rule to ensure independence and efficiency of the Tribunal. The Commission is directed to act as an independent body to supervise the appointment and function of the Tribunal as well as to conduct necessary proceeding against member of Tribunal. The Commission will also take care of administrative and infrastructural need of the Tribunal. The Supreme Court has also given drastic suggestions to change the constitution of search-cum-selection Committee.
An important judgment worth reading. It has also taken care of the infrastructural need of the Tribunal members. A very detailed and welcome judgment – I only hope the directions given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court would be followed in letter and spirit within the time frame given by the Apex Court.
Senior Advocate Shri Arvind Datar made elaborate argument for the Madras Bar Association. We look forward to having few of our young members appointed as Judicial Member of Tribunal.
It is important for elite and experienced advocates to opt to become the judicial member of various Tribunals. This will help in clearing the huge backlog .Compliance of the guidelines and directions by the Hon’ble Supreme Court would ensure transparent and timely disposal of the cases of the litigants.
Suggestion for Four benches of the Supreme Court by Attorney General
While we are all concerned with rising number of litigations pending at various levels, Attorney General Shri K. K. Venugopal has suggested to create four benches of Court of Appeals with 15 judges each sitting across the country. I recall our past President Senior Advocate Dr. K. Shivaram had made similar suggestion long back. The formation of such benches are required to take care of more than 400 different categories of cases pending in the Apex Court. The Attorney General suggested that the Supreme Court as the Apex Court of the Country should be burdened with only Constitutional cases. These four benches are suggested as intermediate Court of Appeal who will finally hear the appeal and there should be no further appeal to the SC. In my personal opinion, the Government must act immediately on this suggestion and ensure that such benches are formed as soon as possible. The list of pending cases is becoming longer but the pace of hearing has reduced on account of pandemic. Therefore, the Government must accept such out of box suggestion for the benefit of public at large.
An important suggestion about continuing the virtual court hearing was also made by the Attorney General. With our experience we have observed that virtual hearing are welcome but the matters involving lengthy arguments need to be singled out for physical hearing. Presently Hon’ble Bombay High Court has adopted the duel system of physical and virtual hearing which according to many advocates is creating confusion. There should be more clarify on allocation of cases, etc.
Appointment of our members as Standing Counsel in various States
I am happy to inform that four of our Life Member and active member of the Federation are appointed as Senior Standing Counsel. Three more members are appointed as Junior Standing Counsel in various States. Their names are as follows:
Senior Standing Counsels
1. B. V. S. Chalapati Rao (Andhra Pradesh)
2. M. V. J. Kumar (Andhra Pradesh)
3. Sandeep Choraria (West Bengal)
4. Siddharth Ranka (Rajasthan)
Junior Standing Counsel
5. Anjana Singh (Uttar Pradesh)
6. D. K. Agarwal (Sikkim)
7. Uday Bhagavat (Telangana)
I congratulate each one of them. They have earned this post on account of their hard work and dedication. I wish all of them a successful tenure and I am sure they are going to achieve greater heights in time to come.
Winners of the Awards for the year 2020
Chairman Sr. Advocate Shri Ganesh Purohit along with convenor Mr. Santosh Gupta and their team had the difficult task of choosing the awardees for different awards. The entire Award Committee spared their valuable time in scrutinizing the applications and selecting the best ones. List of awards and the persons who are awarded are being produced in the AIFTP Times. I request the members to look into the same and thrive for having one of the awards next year. I congratulate each person and zones who are declared winners.
Year 2020 – the Historic year of experience and learning
On 14th December 2019 I was elected as the President of this prestigious Association at a National Convention held at Hotel Sahara Star Mumbai. Little did we know that after two months we would be compelled to observe a complete lockdown on account of Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, rest of the physical programs planned after 15th March 2020, including international study tour had to be shelved for obvious reasons.
It is said that every adversity carries within itself the seeds of opportunity. The team AIFTP 2020 learned too soon at the onset of April 2020 that the end of pandemic is nowhere in sight. With the graph of casualty and infected persons increasing day by day, the Zones started organizing virtual programs. As the professional members could not attend to their office, department or courts, great enthusiasm was shown by large number of our members as also public at large to participate in such webinars. The response was encouraging as we could reach out to our brother members stationed at remote places. This was one of the most positive impact of the pandemic. The bond of fraternity became stronger and the Federation could organize more than 109 webinars from April 2020 to October 2020. The pace has slowed down thereafter as everyone is busy in completing the pending work and legal compliances.
The webinars arranged by each of the zones had best of the faculties. Each of the webinar was well designed, planned and was successful on account of the quality and the substance delivered. In addition to the webinars, for the first time in the history of AIFTP, there were three virtual National Conference of two-days each followed by the First Virtual Convention by the south zone. I congratulate and thank each and every member of the NEC and Zonal team 2020 involved in virtual programs.
This year will have golden mark on account of inauguration of the two day National tax Conference of Central Zone by of the Union Finance Minister, Hon’ble Smt. Nirmala Seetharamanji. In her inaugural speech, Hon’ble Finance Minister applauded the pivotal role played by the Tax consultants as inevitable link between tax payers and tax administrators.
Her Excellency Dr. (Smt) Tamilisai Soundararajan, Hon’ble Governor of Telangana inaugurated the first Virtual Convention by South Zone at Hydrabad and addressed the Nation
Hon’ble Dr. Kakakalya Nagappa Ashwathnarayana, the Dy. Chief Minister of Karnataka blessed the virtual convention by remaining present in the valedictory session of virtual convention
Hon’ble Shri P. C. Mody, Chairman CBDT spared his valuable time to inaugurate and address the first Virtual National tax Conference by western Zone and introduced our members with the faceless assessment under Income tax act. Thereafter – Dr. Pushpinder Puniha – Principal Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, National E-Assessment Centre; and Shri Kamlesh Varshney, Joint Secretary, Tax & Planning, Central Board of Directorate of Trade spared about 150 minutes to answer to the queries raised by our panelist.
In addition to the above dignitaries we were blessed by the presence of the Hon’ble judges from the Supreme Court and various high courts. I thank each of the Hon’ble Judges for remaining present. For the first time ever, seven sitting judges of different High Courts, who were our life members remained present on the virtual platform.
All these were possible only because each of the program was on Virtual platform.
An added feather in cap for NEC 2020 is the three invaluable publications. First e-publication an exhaustive commentary on Vivad Se Vishwas scheme by Adv. Vipul Joshi was released on 22nd April virtually at the hands of Hon Justice Shri P. P. Bhatt, President ITAT. This book was prepared and published in complete lockdown. Second equally important publication is 151 landmark decisions of Supreme Court prepared by team headed by Sr. Adv. Dr. K. Shivaram, released at the hands of six sitting judges of various high Courts who had been active member of Federation. The third publication is an exhaustive book on Reassessment prepared by Adv. Ajay Singh, released at the hands of Her excellency, Governor of Tamilnadu. We are thankful to Dr. Saraf, Sr. Adv. and Past President for sponsoring the later two publications in the memory of his late father Dr. Justice B.P. Saraf.
Along with the virtual programs we continued to remain active in the representation front, both under Direct and Indirect Taxes. The Central and the State authorities responded well to our representation. I am happy to say that in response to our pre-budget suggestions sent by Shri H. L. Madan, Chairman-Indirect Tax Representation Committee, the Finance Ministry has responded and requested us to furnish our suggestions in 1000 words so that the same can be tabled before the concerned officials. Shri S.R. Wadhwa, the Senior Member and Chairman of Direct Tax Representation Committee continued to make the representation on various legal aspects of the Direct Tax. The procedural aspects of Direct and Indirect Tax were taken care of by the individual zone. Thus, this year we have made record number of fruitful representation wherein many of our suggestions were accepted by the concerned authorities.
I thank from the bottom of my heart each and every member of the National Executive Committee, all the past presidents and my office bearers for shouldering the responsibility to achieve the object of the Federation. I would be failing in my duty if I do not thank each and every faculty, the speakers and the chairmen of each and every virtual programme for enabling us to hold record number of webinars.
The year comes to an end with a hope of vaccination in next 3 to 6 months’ time. I along with my team of office bearers have tried our best to keep in touch with each and every member virtually. Except the conference at Indore, Junagadh and Muzaffarpur there were no physical conferences, yet frequent meeting on virtual mode have brought us closer than it ever did in the past.
But for the Covid-19 pandemic, many physical programs were possible but we will have to be contended with the flow of virtual programs for few more months to come. I am glad that members have picked up new normal life and protocol.
I congratulate the new team for 2021 headed by Shri Srinivas Rao, National President 2021. I wish them thumping success in the year 2021. The details of the new team are given in the AIFTP Times. I would be failing in my duty if I do not put on record the help, support and assistance provided by the Secretary General, Adv. Shri Sameer Jani as also two past Presidents from west zone, Advocate Shri P. C. Joshi and Senior Advocate Dr. K. Shivaram. Indeed all the past presidents namely Advocate Shri M. L. Patodi, Senior Advocate Smt. Prem Lata Bansal, Advocate Shri M.V.K. Murthy, Senior Advocate Ganesh Purohit, and Senior Advocate Shri Ashok Saraf have guided me and supported from time to time. My sincere gratitude to all them. At the end my sincere thanks to each and every NEC members, Chairman of each Zone and chairman and members of various Committees. Its Team 2020 which was successful.
On 31st December 2020, I shall put down my pen as the President of this August Federation. I will keep in touch with you all through the journal and other educational Programs. I would always be available for the service to the Association and its members. Thank you for keeping in touch through this medium of communication.
Nikita R. Badheka
National President, AIFTP