Centre forms committee to streamline revenue litigation in Supreme Court
The committee comprising representatives of the National Informatics Centre, law ministry, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Central Board of Indirect Taxes (CBIT, and the department of revenue will work on an electronic case management system to monitor litigation from tribunals and high courts.
NEW DELHI: The Centre has formed a committee to streamline revenue litigation pending before the Supreme Court, solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the top court on Friday after the judges sought reduction in long delays in filing tax appeals.
The committee comprising representatives of the National Informatics Centre, law ministry, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Central Board of Indirect Taxes (CBIT, and the department of revenue will work on an electronic case management system by which revenue litigation from tribunals and high courts can be monitored to provide for a time-bound mechanism for filing appeals in the top court.
The bench of justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah earlier directed the Centre to come out with a mechanism to reduce delays since appeals for direct and indirect taxes were being filed much beyond the stipulated period of 60 days for regular appeals and 90 days for filing special leave petition (SLP).
In February this year, the Supreme Court spotlighted this problem after an appeal against the order of the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal was filed after a delay of 536 days. The delayed move upset the bench. “Repeatedly, it has come to the notice of this Court that appeals in revenue matters involving indirect taxation are being filed with a gross delay,” the bench said.
On Friday, the top court gave the government three more months to come up with a solution in view of the constitution of a committee. “A committee has been constituted of various stakeholders to ensure due adoption of technology to streamline, monitor, and seamlessly integrate all phases of government litigation,” the bench noted as it posed the case after three months.
The bench also directed the revenue secretary to personally monitor and provide assistance to the committee, both with regard to domain knowledge and technical assistance.
The order to set up the committee came after the bench at the last hearing on August 6 expressed displeasure at the government’s inaction.
“We find the recalcitrance on the part of the Ministry of Finance in the Department of Revenue unacceptable. However, before we take the next step of issuing a contempt notice, we give a last and final opportunity to the Union government to sort out the issue and come before this Court with a concrete plan of action, beyond circulars,” the court said on August 6.
The court further stated, “The Union government, in the Department of Revenue must find an answer to this state of affairs by ensuring that matters which are required to be litigated are litigated with all necessary dispatch and matters not worthy of being pursued are set to rest”.