Indicting the inordinate delays of the revenue department in challenging tax orders going in favour of private parties,the Supreme Court has sought the intervention of finance and law ministers to check the loss of revenue.
A Bench led by Chief Justice SH Kapadia,while adjudicating a tax dispute filed by the director of IT International Taxation,Mumbai,against Citibank for recovery of around Rs 90 crore,expressed his dismay at the lethargy in the tax department and its legal administration in filing the appeals so that their challenge was not shot down on the ground of delay.
The Bench underlined a delay of more than 650 days by the department in moving the two appeals before the apex court and a delay of 450 days before the Bombay HC.
In large number of cases,we find a peculiar phenomenon. In cases,where huge revenue/demand from the department is involved,invariably,there is inordinate delay in filing appeals before the High Court and in filing special leave petitions before this court. We do not know the reason why such inordinate delays take place only in matters of stakes. This aspect needs to be looked into, said the Bench.
The department,in its reply,had contended that the delay in filing the appeal was not willful or due to any negligence but due to the time consuming and unavoidable administrative procedures.
Dissatisfied with the reasons of delay cited by the department,the Bench said,In the above circumstances,we direct the registry to forward a copy of this order to the honble finance minister and honble law minister for doing the needful at the departmental level so that such cases of revenue leakages do not recur.
Since the affidavit in this court pursuant to our orders is not satisfactory,we want to know from the learned Additional Solicitor General as to whether the department intends to hold a departmental inquiry for the above delay, read the court order.
On Monday,ASG Mohan Parasaran and counsel Imtiaz Ahmed appeared before the court and sought some time to get instructions from the department concerned. The Bench then posted the matter for September 24.