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CBDT forms committee to screen controversial, important tax cases
August, 29th 2012

In view of "contentious and controversial" legal cases like that of Vodafone faced by Income Tax department, the CBDT has created a committee of top Finance Ministry and I-T officials to understand the intricacies involved and present a sound case in court.

By setting up Central Technical Committee (CTC), the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) aims to bring clarity on contentious legal issues and reduce litigation by adopting a consistent approach on them.

"It has been observed that a large part of litigation in the direct taxes matters involves interpretation of legal provisions. Lack of desired clarity on contentious legal issues amongst the officers of the department sometimes leads to inconsistent approach on the same issue giving rise to further litigation.

"With a view to provide clarity on contentious legal issues, promote consistency of approach on a given issue and reduce litigation, it has been decided to set up an institutional mechanism to formulate departmental view," a note for the creation of the committee said.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has decided to create a Central Technical Committee (CTC) headed by a Joint Secretary level official, who will be assisted by other senior I-T officials in the Finance Ministry as its members.

A Regional Technical Committee (RTC), comprising the local tax officials, will act as the sub-office of the CTC.

Sources in the Finance Ministry said the CTC will take up cases which have a large revenue implication or have strategic legal ramifications, and it will collect and analyse divergent views from all the units of the department like investigation, assessment and pricing before a legal reply is filed in the High Courts or the Supreme Court.

"Cases like Vodafone are surely one of the many reasons that such a committee has been formed. However, that is not the only case. The I-T department has a lot of cases which have complicated and multi-layered legal interpretations," a senior official said.

Following an amendment to the Income-Tax Act with retrospective effect in the last Budget, Vodafone may be asked to pay Rs 20,000 crore tax, interest and penalty for its 2007 acquisition despite wining the tax case in the Supreme Court.

The CBDT note said that the regional units will prepare a note before referring any "controversial" case to the CTC,

"The CTC shall examine the said judgement on priority to decide as to whether filing of Special Leave Petition to Supreme Court will be adequate response for the time being or some legislative amendment is called for," the note said.

Former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had also asked the I-T department to cut down litigation and speed up cases in various legal forums so that 'locked up' revenue can be realised faster.

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