At a time when the entire world, including India, is traversing in the uncharted territory of the pandemic of Coronavirus COVID-19 and is virtually in a complete lockdown of 21 days effective 24th March 2020 announced by the Government of India, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), held an All India Video Conference of its Members on the topic ‘The Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Act, 2020’ here today. The session was presided over by Mr. Justice P.P. Bhatt, President, ITAT. Shri Pramod Chandra Mody, Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) was the chief guest. The other guest faculty included Shri Kamlesh Chandra Varshney, Joint Secretary-TPL(1) and Shri Rajesh Kumar Bhoot, Joint Secretary-TPL(2) in the Ministry of Finance. Keeping in view the relevancy and importance of the subject, the President, ITAT thought it fit to invite the representatives of the ten major Tax Bar Associations from all over India. Accordingly, the representatives of the Bar Associations from Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune, and Chandigarh participated.
In his Presidential address, Justice P.P. Bhatt emphasized the need of stakeholders’ participation in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism and explained the keen interest being evinced by the Central Government to create a dispute-free tax collection system. He stated that as an institution specializing in the adjudication of tax disputes, ITAT expected all the stakeholders to consider availing the Scheme which was intended to reduce the pending litigation, enable timely recovery of taxes by the Government and sparing the taxpayers’ time, resources and energy from litigation. He urged the stakeholders, more particularly, the tax practitioners to take the task further in a mission mode, so that the system that is choked with the avoidable litigation could be relieved for concentrating on more meritorious issues, which have a bearing on the tax policies affecting the taxpayers on a large scale. He observed that the success of the technical session lies in carrying home the message by the representatives of the Bar Associations for further discussion with the members in their respective Associations and in carrying forward the objectives of the scheme to its logical conclusion.
Mr. P.C. Mody, Chairman, CBDT explained the objective behind the scheme and the role of the stakeholders in making it a grand success. He explained to the audience that the Government, as well as the Board, have undertaken a massive exercise of considering the suggestions from every corner, for proposing suitable amendments to the Act and also clarifying the doubts by way of answers to the frequently asked questions. He said that no scheme could be conceived with all the perfections, so also could be this scheme, and therefore, he assured that the Government and the Board are open for suggestions and comments from every stakeholder for better implementation of the scheme in its letter and spirit.
Mr. Kamlesh Chandra Varshney and Mr. Rajesh Kumar Bhoot, Joint Secretaries in the Ministry of Finance explained the subject from different angles and also the text of the scheme as well as the nuances involved in its implementation.
One representative from each of the ten Bar Associations participated in the discussions and deliberations by making several important suggestions for effective implementation of the scheme and also seeking clarification in respect of certain queries that go to the core of the implementation of the Scheme. The representatives of the Bar Associations unanimously expressed the opinion that the scheme itself is a wonderful piece of legislation that has come after a long time. They expressed a feeling that the unique initiative of holding the technical session by the ITAT would go a long way in facilitating the implementation of the scheme and the expertise of the speakers on the subject reflected in their dealing with the subject and had thrown a new light in the understanding of the nuances. The representatives of the Bar Associations also expressed their satisfaction with the value added to the knowledge which they would share with the other members of the Associations and encourage the deserving cases to end up in filing the declarations under this scheme.
Mr. G.S. Pannu, Vice President of Delhi Zone coordinated the entire session. It was emphasized by Mr. Pannu that apart from the scheme which was laudable, it was important that the CBDT draws up a mechanism, by way of which, the litigation is kept within manageable limits by making suitable amendments in the Statute.
The one and half-hour-long video conference came to an end with the vote of thanks presented by Mr. R.S. Syal, Vice President, Pune Zone.