ITAT Bar Association opposes move to make the tribunal faceless : 23-03-2021

Federation of ITAT Bar Associations (Federation), an umbrella association of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Bar Associations of the country has objected to the finance bill’s proposal to make the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal adopt a ‘faceless’ mode while conducting proceedings to review appeals on tax assessments.

The federation, as well as various bar association of ITAT, have approached the Union Finance Ministry as well as the Law Ministry and said that the existing open court system – where both the sides of the litigation, the tax-payers and the department, produce their arguments and counter-arguments in the open court is the highest and the last fact-finding authority under the Income-tax Act, 1961, dealing with varied matters involving complicated issues of facts, law, international taxation, transfer pricing.

The proposal seeks to replace the open court hearings with the mere filing of written submissions. “Nowhere internationally second appellate machinery like the ITAT, which is acknowledged as having all trapping of a Court – has been made to such an extent ‘faceless’,” ITAT Mumbai claimed in its release.

Referring to detailed representations made by various ITAT Bar Associations to the finance minister, law minister and Prime Minister’s Office, Mumbai ITAT Bar Association stated it logically demolished reasonings provided in the proposal, including raising efficiency and transparency by eliminating interface between parties and optimizing resources and introducing dynamic jurisdiction. The move will be counterproductive, said the ITAT press statement.

It also said that ITAT was the oldest tribunal and other tribunals are modelled around it. It has been lauded by successive presidents, PMs, law ministers, attorney generals and legal luminaries like Nani Palkhivala.

Source : Economic Times