The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has cautioned its field officers against making frivolous appeals, stating that “litigation” must be pursued only in “deserving cases”.
In an internal communiqué addressed to the field officers, the CBDT Member (A&J) S K Ray expressed dismay that necessary due diligence and caution were not being exercised while preferring appeals. This was despite several earlier instructions on the matter.
Roy also highlighted that courts were taking a “stern” view as far as the income-tax department’s actions on litigation matters were concerned.
Pursuing litigation “only in deserving cases” cannot be over-emphasised given that the department was facing an acute shortage of officers at all levels, the CBDT has said.
Besides financial costs, litigation also sometimes tarnished the image of the department and strained its resources, the CBDT communique said.
“It is imperative that the available resources are optimally utilised to obtain maximum benefit out of litigation”.
To support its point that necessary caution was not being exercised while preferring appeals, the CBDT highlighted certain court decisions, including that of Prescon Builders and State Bank of India.
Reacting to the CBDT move, Aseem Chawla, Partner, MPC Legal, a law firm, said it was noteworthy that the internal communique made a reference to a series of court and tribunal orders where the callous approach of the tax department was highlighted.
“Taking reference of such instances, it has been well-advised that revenue appeals be preferred in deserving cases. In the said directive, the fact that resources were limited was equally impressed upon. What is important is sincere implementation in the spirit of such directive,” Chawla said.
Amit Maheshwari, Partner, Ashok Maheshwary & Associates, a firm of chartered accountants, said this was a “welcome step” to avoid frivolous appeals.
“Hopefully, the government would in the coming days bring in more accountability of the income-tax officers on filing appeals which are devoid of merits,” Maheshwari said. .