Finance ministry launches ambitious national electronic I-T judicial database
March, 23rd 2015
The Finance Ministry has operationalised an ambitious electronic national database of judicial orders and appeals to de-congest and streamline huge litigation in the Income Tax Department and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
The much-talked about repository called the National Judicial Reference System (NJRS) was envisaged about three years back for the I-T Department which is one of the largest litigant among government departments.
According to data, tax demand of more than Rs 3.5 lakh crore is under dispute and litigation before various courts and appellate authorities under the direct taxes category.
"The CBDT has launched the limited edition (beta version) of NJRS recently after it was conceptualised few years back to revolutionise and ease litigation in the I-T Department for the benefit of both the government and taxpayers. The full and public operationalisation of the portal is expected to be done by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley soon.
"The database has records of over 2.5 lakh appeals and more than 1.45 lakh orders and judgements. Now, a tax officer can check any reference on judicial orders relating to direct taxes and status of appeals across the country of the department on a click," a senior finance ministry official said.
The NJRS will also have an interface for the taxpayers so that they can see the status of their I-T cases on the Internet-enabled portal by using a unique code which could either be the Permanent Account Number (PAN) or the case number of the assessee, the official said.
A central processing centre for the NJRS has been established at Nashik in Maharashtra by the tax department and it will act as a repository of all judgements and pending appeals related to Direct Tax cases at Income Tax Appellate Tribunals (ITATs), Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR), High Courts and the Supreme Court. "The NJRS will function with the help of smart search facilities and flowcharts for tax officers engaged in litigation with the assessee or entity at various stages.
"The portal will enable them to diligently monitor appeal dates, check cause lists and undertake research and analysis for strengthening their cases by taking reference from previous orders made by the courts in I-T cases," the official said.
The I-T Department's Legal and Research (L and R) wing has sourced over 1.45 lakh judgements and orders of the ITAT including close to 50,000 cases with their summaries for use by department officials.
Also, data of about 2.25 lakh appeals of ITAT, 4,000 appeals in the Andhra Pradesh High Court and over 10,000 appeals in the apex court, updated till January 2015, have been fed into the NJRS till now.
"The department officers have been provided a secure gateway to access facilities to carry out research and prepare case notes, facility to mark appeals for priority attention, guidelines to online process Special Leave Petitions, interface to exchange communication between various I-T offices on cases of similar nature and interest, among others.
"The system is the first of its kind in the country for comprehensive litigation management in any government department," the official said.
All cases under Income Tax Act, 1961; Wealth Tax Act, 1957; Expenditure Tax Act, 1987; Interest Tax Act, 1974 and Gift Tax Act, 1958 will be compiled in the NJRS.
The facility will be maintained by the National Securities Depository Limited's (NSDL) e-governance wing.