Finance Minister P Chidambaram is likely to review the entire appeal-filing mechanism of the Income Tax department in view of concerns expressed by the Supreme Court recently over delays in revenue cases.
The Minister may review the mechanism in the middle of next month with senior officials of the Finance Ministry and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). "The Finance Minister is expected to review this work of the department shortly. Instructions have been issued to all field formations of the department to collect the data in this regard and ensure that there is no delay in the process (of filing timely appeals) henceforth," a senior official said.
The CBDT, concerned over the adverse comments of various High Courts and the apex court on the "inordinate delays and deficiencies in the filing of appeals (in courts)", has also recently issued orders fixing a 21-day mandatory deadline for preparing a response in such cases by the tax department.
Cracking the whip, the CBDT had also mandated that any action of delay in filing of appeals in the High Courts or Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) in the apex court may attract "administrative action". "The proposals for filing SLP are still received after considerable delay.
The proposal must reach the Directorate (of I-T Legal), complete in all respect, within 21 days of the date of judgement of the High Court.
The Commissioners of I-T are requested to monitor this aspect of the work closely. "Excuses like heavy workload or officers on leave among others are not acceptable," an official communique from the legal department of the I-T had said.
The communication had been sent to all field formations of the I-T engaged in tax assessment and collection. "Delay in filing appeal in the High Court and in the submission of SLP proposal may attract administrative action," the order drafted on the directions of the CBDT, the apex body of I-T department, had said.
The latest order, aimed to streamline such cases where huge tax revenue is stuck in various stages of litigation, mandates that timelines be "strictly adhered" to. The Supreme Court had recently pulled up the I-T for inordinate delays in filing appeals.
Minister of State for Finance S S Palanimanickam had told Parliament recently that on the Direct Taxes side, 5,860 cases involving tax demand worth Rs 2,707 crore were pending in Supreme Court while 29,650 other cases with tax demand of Rs 36,340 crore were stuck in High Courts.