Lax IT officers will be punished for litigation delays:CBDT

New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) After Supreme Court expressedconcerns over delays in filing appeals, the Finance Ministrytoday said "immediate action" will be taken against lax IncomeTax department officials and Chief Commissioners will nowmonitor processing of judicial cases in both the apex courtand High Courts.

The orders have been issued by the CBDT on instructionsfrom Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who had earlierdescribed the IT department as the "government''s biggestlitigant" with over Rs 12,000 crore tax demands locked up indisputes.

According to the official data, cases involving taxdemand of about Rs 7,635 crore are pending in Income TaxAppellate Tribunal (ITAT), around Rs 3,849 crore is locked upin cases with High Courts while disputed matters over taxliability of about Rs 550 crore are lying with the SupremeCourt.

"As you are aware, the apex court of the country hastime and again expressed its anguish and annoyance over thedelayed filing of SLPs as also appeals in the High Courts. Insuch cases, such delay is inordinate.

The inordinate delay is more pronounced in high revenuecases....the Union Finance Minister has desired to takeimmediate action against officials found responsible for suchlapse..," according to a letter from CBDT Chairman SudhirChandra to all the Chief Commissioners of Income Tax (CCsIT)in the country.

The letter said all the CCsIT and Commissioners of IncomeTax (CsIT) would be "personally responsible to ensure timelyfiling of appeals and they would immediately initiate actionagainst the officers responsible for the delays in filingappeals, under intimation to the Central Board of Direct Taxes(CBDT)."

CBDT is the administrative authority of the I-Tdepartment.

To ensure speedy disposal, the ministry has also ruledthat various I-T ranges in the country should not wait toreceive the certified copies of Special Leave Petitions (SLPs)from the apex court and they should be "processed on the basisof orders downloaded from the court''s website" itself.

Mukherjee while addressing top I-T officers had lastyear said that, "one area of concern is litigation withtaxpayers. The (I-T) department is filing appeals in a routinemanner, without careful thought and examination leading to thedepartment earning the dubious distinction of being thebiggest litigant in the Government of India."

"It is a matter of serious concern that despite theSupreme Court''s observations, posts in judicial wings arestill lying vacant and at various places proper supportsystem/infrastructure has not been provided to the judicialwing.

CCsIT are advised to correct the situation immediately,"Chandra''s letter said, adding a compliance report should besent before February 15.

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