New Delhi, Oct 6 (UNI) Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the government was considering appointing two additional Solicitor Generals, one to handle cases relating to direct taxes and the other indirect taxes, to improve the quality of government's representation in courts.
"Much needs to be done to improve the quality of government representation in courts and appellate tribunals. Faced with giants from the other side, government representatives are often awe struck. This needs to be balanced", Mr Chidambaram said while addressing the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTA) here. The Minister was speaking on the occasion of Silver Jubilee Function of the Tribunal.
Others who participated in the event included Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, Supreme Court Judge S H Kapadia, President CESTA Bar Association D N Mehta and President CESTA R K Abichandani.
Among others who were seated in the audience included Mr Soli Sorabji. former Solicitor General of India, and Mr Fali S Nariman, a legal luminary.
Mr Chidambaram said domain knowledge was lacking and added that it was important to develop skills and acquire knowledge in a fast globalising world where the nature of economic transactions were undergoing fundamental changes. "These transcations are getting more and more complex. Taxation knowledge not only of India but also of other countries where they are routed is important", Mr Chidambaram said citing the growing trend of outward and inward FDI in ths regard.
The Finance Minister said while disputes relating to service tax are on the rise, those entailing customs are on the decline. The primary reason why disuptes relating to customs are becoming less and less is because tariff rates are coming down.
He said customs as a source of government revenue will become less important with tariff lies coming down, but its role to track cross border transactions will always remain.
Mr Chidambaram said as tax revenue from service tax was on the increase, it is obvious that disputes in this regard could increase.
He, however, said the government was working towards establishing an assessee friendly system.
Mr Chidambaram made out a case for more personnel from the Appellate tribunal being upgraded to the High Court as Judges and felt that the service condition of the tribunal manpower needs to be improved.
Justice Balakrishnan also stressed the need for improving domain knowledge in view of internationalisation of the Indian economy and the complexities resulting from WTO laws and norms.