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Representation to the Principal Chief Commissioner, Chandigarh
December, 01st 2015
29-CA/Law/NDM-1134                                             27th November, 2015


To,

The Principal Chief Commissioner
Income Tax,
Chandigarh


Sub:   Only enrolled Advocates are licensed to practice Law in India- Not to
       allow Chartered Accountants/ Non- Advocates for practice of law in the
       course of proceedings before revenue authorities falling under the
       jurisdiction of Principal Commissioner of Income Tax and Commission
       of Income Tax, Amritsar, Jammu etc.


Dear Sir,

      Recently, it has come to our knowledge that a proposal not allowing
Chartered Accountants/ Non- Advocates for practice of law in the course of
proceedings before revenue authorities falling in your jurisdiction is under
consideration.

       In this regard, although, comments have not been called for from the
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India New Delhi, yet being the statutory body
and regulator as well, we wish to bring the following facts for your consideration.

       The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, is a statutory body
established by an Act of Parliament namely `The Chartered Accountants Act, 1949'
for regulating the profession of Chartered Accountants. We further, wish to inform
you that a significant majority of our membership is in the practice with a good
deal of specialisation in the traditional areas of direct/ indirect taxes and in
emergent specialism inter alia, in financial services, information technology,
insurance sector, joint ventures, mutual funds, exchange risk management, risk
and assurance services, environment / energy/quality audits, investment
counselling, corporate structuring and foreign collaborations etc.

       The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India is also engaged in the
Nation building by contributing to Central and various State Governments and
other regulators viz, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Trade Policy division of the
Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Reserve Bank
of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, Comptroller and
Auditor General of India, Securities Exchange Board of India etc. to name a few, on
                                                                                   1 

 
the relevant matter of importance to the profession and having bearing to the
public interest.

       The education and training programme of the Institute to the qualification of
Chartered Accountancy is adequately designed to ensure that our members have in
depth knowledge/ experience of accounting, taxation, financing and audit etc. The
Institute spares no efforts in keeping pace with the current accounting and
auditing practices prevalent throughout the world. An individual who qualifies as a
Chartered Accountant has to mandatorily undergo rigorous practical training and
has to keep his knowledge updated in the matter relating to accountancy, audit,
taxation and corporate laws etc. The area of training covers accountancy, auditing,
taxation, company law and other laws. The level of knowledge prescribed in the
various subjects covered by the syllabus of the Chartered Accountancy course is
`expert knowledge'.

       That Taxation including Indirect Taxes is one of the core-competence areas
of Chartered Accountants. In India, Chartered Accountants have expertise in
accounting, auditing and taxation, since these subjects are dealt with in great
depth in the CA curriculum. Further, Taxation constitutes a significant area of
practice of CAs. It is due to this reason the Institute has three separate dedicated
committees on taxation, namely, Direct Taxes Committee, Indirect Taxes
Committee and Committee on International Taxation. These committees are
amongst the most important committees of the Institute and they act as a liaison
between the Revenue and the tax payers. The Committees comprise of chartered
accountant members of the Central Council, as well as other co-opted members,
who are experts in the field of Taxation from across the country. Therefore, it is
clear that a chartered accountant, on passing his final examination and completing
his articled training, is an expert in taxation, accountancy, auditing, company law
and other laws etc., and he is accordingly fully qualified to practice in these fields.
Chartered Accountants are thus well trained in various laws which are applied
while conducting cases before various tribunals and other similar authorities.

       The provisions of Income tax Act involve computation and analysis of profit
and loss account which directly relates to accounting procedure or the recording,
presentation or certification of financial facts or data. Chartered Accountants being
an expert in understanding and analyzing the financial statements are thus the
right person for explaining the related facts in case of dispute.

      For application of tax legislations, the prima facie documents are financial
statements thus the government has given the task relating to financial statements
appropriately to Chartered Accountants.

       The matters before the Tax Authorities involve issues and questions mainly
relating to accountancy and require knowledge and expertise in accounting
matters. This is why many of the leading and most successful tax advocates are
also qualified Chartered Accountants. The appearance of Chartered Accountants
before tax authorities and tribunals has always been considered to be an integral
part of the practice of a Chartered Accountancy ever since 1940s, when the Income
                                                                                     2 

 
Tax Appellate Tribunal was first set up and when Chartered Accountants began
appearing before it.




        It is necessary to note that the members of the Institute are thus well trained
in the fields of various laws which are applied while conducting the cases before the
various tax/revenue authorities. It is in recognition of that crucial fact the various
applicable statutes specifically permit Chartered Accountants to appear before
authorities and Tribunals constituted under those statutes. A few of such statutes
are listed below:-

             (a)    Section 288 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 read with Rule 50
                    of the Income Tax Rules, 1962

             (b)    Section 35-Q of the Central Excise Act, 1944

             (c)    Section 146-A of the Customs Act, 1962 read with Rule 9(a)
                    of the Customs (Appeals) Rules, 1982

             (d)    Section 15-V of the Securities and Exchange Board of India
                    Act, 1992

             (e)    Section 22(C) of the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act,
                    1956

             (f)    Section 17 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act,
                    1991

             (g)    Section 432 of the Companies Act, 2013

             (h)    Regulation 19 of the Company Law Board Regulations, 1991

             (i)    Section 35 and Section 53 S of the Competition (Amendment)
                    Act, 2007

             (j)    Rule 61 of the Special Economic Zone Rules, 2006

             (k)    Before the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission vide
                    Notification No.8/(1)/99/CERC dated 27.8.1999

             (l)    Airport Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act; in terms
                    of section 30, CA can appear before Appelate Tribunal

             (m)    The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 -- in terms of
                    Sections 16 and 32




                                                                                     3 

 
      Needless to mention that the Institute, since its inception in the year of
1949, has always remained at the forefront in serving the nation by establishing
sound financial prudence within the country.

       Further, the Institute has a stringent code of conduct/Ethics which are
required to be followed by its members. It is also pertinent to mention that the
Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 provides the disciplinary mechanism for making
investigation     and    taking     disciplinary   action   in   respect   of any
complaint/information of professional/other misconduct in respect of a member
and/or levy of penalty of permanent removal of name from the register of members
and/or levy of penalty up to Rupees Five Lakhs as well depending on the gravity of
offence(s). Therefore, the Chartered Accountants are governed by the Chartered
Accountants Act, 1949 and the Chartered Accountants Regulations 1988 framed
there under and are subject to strict provisions of professional ethics and
professional conduct and any deviation there from would make them liable for
disciplinary action under the said Act. The ICAI has established a Peer Review
Board to ensure compliance with technical standards, acceptance and adherence to
quality control policies and procedures by Chartered Accountants firm in the
services being rendered by them. Such reviews certainly boost the confidence of
society at large in the quality of work of Chartered Accountants in India.

        The term `practice of profession of law' has not been defined under the
Advocates Act, 1961. The appearance before the Authorities established under the
Income-Tax Act does not amount to `practice of profession of law'. The Hon'ble
Supreme Court in the case of C. Venkatachalam vs. Ajitkumar C. Shah & Ors. [6
(2011) 9 SCC 707], while considering the provisions of the Consumer Protection
Act, 1986, upheld the judgment of the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court,
whereby the Hon'ble High Court held that a party before the District Consumer
Forum/State Commission cannot be compelled to engage the service of an
advocate. The Hon'ble Supreme Court also observed that the High Court was fully
justified in observing that the authorized agents do not practice law when they are
permitted to appear before the District Forum and the State Commission. Further,
the Hon'ble Supreme Court also approved the view taken by the High Court that
many statutes, such as, Value Added Tax, Income Tax and Competition Act also
permit non-advocates to represent the parties before the authorities and those non-
advocates cannot be said to be practicing law.

       A perusal of Section 33 of the Advocates Act, 1961 shows that it specifically
contemplates and provides that the other statute in question may specifically
permit persons other than Advocates to appear before Courts and Tribunals
functioning under that statute. Such provisions are to be found in all Central as
well as State Acts dealing with various direct and indirect taxes such as Income
Tax, Excise Duty, Value Added tax, etc. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in R.D. Nagpal
v. Vijay Dutt [(2011) 12 SCC 498] considered the provisions of the Consumer
Protection Act, 1986. Rule 14(3) of the Consumer Protection Rules, 1987 allowed
the parties or their agents to appear before the National Commission, and the
expression `agent' as defined in Section 2(b) of the said Act means a person duly
authorised by a party to present any complaint, appeal or reply on its behalf before
                                                                                  4 

 
the National Commission. The Supreme Court held that given the wide definition of
the expression `agent', there was no reason, if the Commission were otherwise
satisfied that a person was authorised on behalf of the appellant, to refuse to allow
him to represent it and to cross examine the complainant. The provisions of Section
33 of the Advocates Act of 1961 came up for consideration and it was held as
follows:-

6.    The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents has relied upon
      Section 33 of the Advocates Act, 1961. Section 33 makes it clear that
      advocates alone will be entitled to practice before any court or before any
      authority, etc. "except as otherwise provided in this Act or in any other law for
      the time being in force". The Consumer Protection Act read with the Rules
      would be "a law for the time being in force".



       Recently, the Lucknow Bench of the Hon'ble High Court of Judicature at
Allahabad, in case No. 7116 of 2014, Tax Lawyers Association, Lucknow Throu
General Secry. & Anr. vs. State of U.P. Thru Prin. Secy. Tax &
Registration, has passed an Order dated 06.08.2014 directing, inter alia, that any
person, who is not a registered Advocate, shall not be permitted to appear before
the Authority under the U.P. VAT Act. Further, the Hon'ble Bench of the Chief
Justice of Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, after hearing the
arguments in detail on 20th August, 2014, modified the above Order dated 6th
August, 2014 vacating the stay and consequently, Chartered Accountants continue
to be permitted to appear before the authorities under the VAT Act in the State of
U.P. The Division Bench of the Hon'ble Chief Justice's Court, in its Order dated
20.08.2014, observed that Section 29 of the Advocates Act, 1961 speaks of there
being only one class of persons entitled to practice the profession of law, namely,
advocates. Section 33 of the said Act contemplates that only a person who is
enrolled as an advocate under the Act will be entitled to practice in any court or
before any authority or person. The entitlement to practice under Section 33 of the
Advocates Act, 1961 is obviously an entitlement to practice the profession of law
but what is more important is that Section 33 recognises that any other provision
of law and for that matter, the Act itself may authorize a person who is not enrolled
as an advocate under it to practice in any court or before any authority or person.
Consequently, there is no question of the ultra vires doctrine being attracted for the
simple reason that Section 33 of the Act of 1961 contemplates that any other law
may authorize a person who is not enrolled as an advocate under the Act to
practice before any court, authority or person.

      It is stated that the above matter is pending before the Lucknow Bench of
the Hon'ble High Court of Judicature at Allahabad for final hearing.

       The Statute only confers on lawyers the exclusive right to practice law. With
the passage of time there are a lot of functions which are overlapping with the
practice of law and such overlapping functions cannot confer the right on lawyers
under the Advocates Act. Any such interpretation will stultify the growth and
evolution of society and the rules of effective and expeditious dispute resolution. It
                                                                                     5 

 
is, therefore, of vital importance to note that Section 33 of the Advocates Act, 1961
itself specifically contemplates and provides that the other statute in question may
specifically permit persons other than Advocates to appear before Courts and
Tribunals functioning under that statute. Such provisions are to be found in all
Central as well as State Acts dealing with various direct and indirect taxes such as
Income tax, Excise duty, value added tax etc. Thus, the Income Tax Appellate
Tribunal is constituted under the provisions of The Income Tax Act, 1961. Section
288 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 provides for appearance by `authorised
representatives' before any Income-tax Authority or the Income-tax Appellate
Tribunal.

       Moreover, the matters before the various tax/revenue authorities involving
mainly issues and questions relating to Accountancy and require knowledge and
expertise in accounting matters. Indeed, even if an advocate appears in such
matters, he cannot present his case in the most effective manner without a good
knowledge of accountancy. This is why many of the leading and most successful
tax advocates are also qualified Chartered Accountants. The appearance of
Chartered Accountants before tax authorities and tribunals has always been
considered to be an integral part of the practice of a Chartered Accountancy ever
since 1940s. As stated above, the Institute spares no efforts in keeping pace with
the accounting practices prevalent and those evolving throughout the World. A
person who qualifies as a Chartered Accountant is to undergo rigorous practical
training spanning three years and has to keep his knowledge updated in the
matters relating to accountancy and the applicable laws. In any event, it is entirely
for the framers of the various enactments viz. Income Tax Act, 1961, the
Companies Act, 2013 etc. to lay down who should be eligible to appear before the
Tribunals and authorities constituted under each of these respective enactments.
The Income Tax Act and the provisions contained therein as to who can appear in
proceedings under those enactments are special provisions of law which would
necessarily prevail over the general provisions contained in the Advocates Act.

      Each legislation enacted by Parliament or by a State Legislature is an
independent code by itself. Parliament and the State Legislature duly take into
consideration the various issues involved and incorporate the requirements into the
respective legislations. Therefore, to re-write such provisions so as to provide that
the appearance by other professionals is for a limited purpose only is totally
unwarranted.




       That law is a dynamic subject and the growth of trade and commerce and
the requirements of revenues of Governments have resulted in the emergence of
specialized legislations like the Income-tax Act, the Central Excise Act, 1944 and
the Customs Act, 1956 and other various State-Level VAT Legislations. The
Constitution of India itself has recognized the importance of the specialized fields of
such legislations and has expressly provided for the creation of specialized
tribunals which take care of such specialized fields of law. Parliament in its
wisdom, while enacting aforesaid legislations have considered all the relevant
issues before incorporating the provisions relating to authorized representatives
These legislations specifically allowed professionals other than advocates to be

                                                                                     6 

 
authorized representatives. This clearly amplifies the point that the legislature is
fully conscious of the requirements of the particular specialized legislation. The
purpose of establishing various Tribunals is to decide issue on a particular subject
by experts in that field and in that direction, specialized Tribunals have been
created by the various statutes. If the Chartered Accountants, who for reasons of
rigorous practical training and examinations, have acquired expertise in
accounting and taxation laws, were not to be allowed to appear before such
specialized authorities/Tribunals, the very purpose of establishment of such
Tribunals would get defeated. Besides, such restrictions will limit the choice
afforded to the affected persons by the statutes to choose their representative.

      In the matter of Rajkot Engineering Association and Ors. And Tax
Advocates Association and Ors.v. Union of India MANU/GJ/0019/1986 the
Gujarat High Court held as follows:

      "There is no restriction on the right of the assessees to select as their own
      authorised representatives whomever they like whether the same
      chartered accountants who have carried out the tax audit or other
      chartered accountants or other Income Tax practitioners....

      In the present state of Income Tax law, the interpretation and development
      of which has become very intricate and complex, it is not difficult to
      anticipate that a situation has arisen where more and more assessees
      would like to be assisted both by the chartered accountants as well
      Income Tax consultants and practitioners who may be non-chartered
      accountants in arranging their financial affairs and in the maintenance of
      their accounts, records and documents for preparation of the returns and
      in the course of assessment before tax authorities."

        In the above backdrop we are of the view that it would not be appropriate to
consider any such proposal which restrains the Chartered Accountants from
appearing before the revenue authorities in India particularly when various
Central/State legislations including the Income Tax Act, 1961 expressly provide
and authorise the Chartered Accountants to appear and represent the cases before
the authorities under the Income Tax Act, 1961. Further, we may request you to
consider our submissions as above and afford us an opportunity to present our
case in person before taking any final decision in this regard. In case your good
office needs any further clarifications, we may please be advised.

      Thanking you,


                                                                      Yours faithfully,


                                                                             (V. Sagar)


                                                                                      7 

 

 
 
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