National Tax Tribunal may not help clear backlog: Panel

New Delhi, Aug 4 | Updated: Aug 5 2005, 05:30am hrs
Parliament standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice has expressed reservations about the finance ministrys proposal to set up a National Tax Tribunal. The committee felt that the new tribunal would not help in reducing the pendency of tax related disputes.

The committee, in its report on the National Tax Tribunal Bill 2004, observed that setting up a tribunal would entail huge expenditure in terms of salary, infrastructure etc. Also, it added, since the writ jurisdiction of the high courts would continue, the aggrieved party would have the option to move the high court against the order of the tribunal. This would result in delay of final disposal of cases and would defeat the very purpose of framing the legislation.

The committee, as an alternative, suggested setting up of additional benches in high courts which could be manned by judges specialising in tax matters. This will also rectify the current problem of divergent decisions given by high courts on identical questions of law.

The committee also felt that the existing vacancies of high court judges was another reason for backlog. It also expressed the opinion that the government, which is a party to tax litigations, needs to gear up in a better way to deal with pending cases.

However, the committee said, if the government decides to go ahead with the proposal, it should set up four benches of the tribunal on experimental basis, one each in the northern, southern, western and eastern zones. More benches, it added, may be set up later.