ITAT laments severe fall in standards of CA profession. Advices ICAI to take disciplinary proceedings against erring members & tackle issue on war footing
The assessee filed appeals for AY 1994-95 & 1996-97 which were delayed by 2984 days. In support of the application for condonation of delay, the assessee claimed that his CA, M/s Rajesh Rajeev Associates, had advised him that as he had already filed an appeal for AY 1993-94 on the same point, which was pending before the Tribunal, he need not file appeals for AYs 1994-95 & 1996-97 and, instead, he could, after adjudication of the appeal for AY 1993-94 by the Tribunal, move a rectification application before the AO to bring the assessment order in conformity with the decision of the Tribunal. The CA filed an affidavit in which he confirmed having given the said advice. In the condonation application, the assessee pleaded that he ought not to be made to suffer for the “incorrect” advice given by the CA. HELD by the Tribunal dismissing the application and the appeals:
(i) The advice given by the CA firm shows signs of deteriorating standards with some of the Chartered Accountants in profession, which needs to be stopped on war footing by the ICAI. The assessee is having connection with many tax professionals and, in all probabilities, the assessee might have had consultation with any one or more of them on the impugned problem. It is inconceivable that all the Chartered Accountants, whom the assessee might have had consultation or availed services, would have concurred with the view expressed by the above said C.A firm. If it is presumed for a moment that all the C.A.s have concurred with the said view, then it only shows that the C.A profession is losing its grip over the Income tax matters, which is another cause of concern for ICAI. The self study model coupled with ‘on-site articled clerk training’ embedded in the Chartered Accountancy course aims to achieve high quality education and training through undergoing practical training, inculcating the habit of thinking, self introspection, application of mind, analytical ability etc. and they enable the C.A students to have strong grip over the subjects and also to attain expertise in them… In the recent past, the methodology of self study is given a go-by by some C.A students and they have started depending more and more on the Commercial Coaching Centers, who undertake coaching of various subjects in the class room model. We notice that the ICAI does not appear to have taken steps to contain mushrooming growth of such coaching institutes, which indulge in manufacturing of Chartered Accountants through class room model, which may ultimately have undesirable effect on the quality of Chartered Accountants, since the habit of thinking, introspection, application of mind is replaced by spoon-feeding, which kind of teaching discourages independent thinking. There should not be any controversy on the fact that the Chartered Accountants, till date, have occupied pioneer position vis-à-vis their counterparts in other parts of the World. They also contribute a lot to the building, sustenance and growth of our National economy. Any compromise on the quality of Chartered Accountants would not only affect our Country very badly, but is also expected to endanger the pioneer position enjoyed by the Indian C.A fraternity vis-à-vis their counter parts in other parts of the world. In our view, the ICAI should seriously take note of these alarming practices slowly emerging in our Country and should take appropriate corrective steps, lest the confidence reposed in C.A.s by the public should get diluted;
(ii) In this back ground, in our view, the above said C.A. firm would have given the letter as well as the affidavit only to accommodate the assessee herein. We would like to mention here that we have come to such a conclusion, since a qualified C.A. firm would not commit such kind of silly mistakes while giving expert professional advice. If the C.A. firm has so accommodated the assessee, without even realising that it is detrimental to its reputation, then the conduct of the C.A. firm needs to be condemned strongly. In that case, we are of the view that the above said conduct of the C.A. firm not only denigrates its name/ reputation, but also badly affects the high standards, confidence, quality, prestige, reputation etc. enjoyed by the C.A. profession;
(iii) The advice claimed to have been given by M/s Rajesh Rajeev Associates, Chartered Accountants, if considered to have been really given, would create doubt about the efficacy of the CPE programmes, since such kind of advices is not expected from a Professional. Further these kind of advices claimed to have been given by a C.A firm clearly give signals that the CPE programmes might have failed to achieve the desired objectives with some of the Chartered Accountants. It is high time that the ICAI should take note of these practicalities and should take corrective steps in order to maintain/restore the high standards and quality expected from a C.A. professional. We have also expressed the view that the above said C.A firm might have given the affidavit only to accommodate the assessee, which conduct is also not expected from a Professional. If it is considered that the C.A firm has colluded with the assessee for giving such kind of affidavit, then it only warrants disciplinary action against them. Even, if it is considered that the said C.A. firm has really given such advices, then also it may require disciplinary action against them for giving such kind of advices, without proper verification of facts and without proper consideration of law. In our view, strict actions and fast disposal of disciplinary proceedings would not only instill discipline among the C.A fraternity, but also help curtail these kind of undesired practices adopted by some of the Chartered Accountants.