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FPJ Legal | Faceless appeal scheme: Bombay HC asks Central govt to keep appeals seeking hearing in abeyance

06:30 PM Nov 30, 2021 | Staff Reporter

The Bombay High Court has requested to keep in abeyance the hearing at the National Faceless Appeal Centres till the time the Central government is reconsidering the Faceless Appeal Scheme.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik said that if the central government doesn’t stop the hearings voluntarily then the courts will pass an order to that effect.

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The HC was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Chamber of Tax Consultants against the Central Board of Direct Taxes challenging the constitutional validity of the 'Faceless Appeal Scheme' along with certain amended provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

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Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the Central government, opposed the plea stating that the Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeal) adjudicated the appeals unit as per the scheme.

Of the total appeals filed, 56,104 appeals have been disposed of under the new scheme without any request for personal hearing.

The judges were however not pleased and called for the numbers of appeals in which personal hearings were sought.

Besides, Singh said that a transfer petition was pending before the Supreme Court seeking that matters pertaining to the new scheme be heard before the apex court. If any order was passed by the HC, then the petition before the SC would become infructuous.

Reiterating that the Parliament was having a relook at the scheme and it would come to a conclusion in another month, Singh sought that the hearing in the petition be adjourned.

The HC has said that till the time the Centre reconsiders the scheme, a person seeking a personal hearing under the Income Tax Act should not be deprived of the same.

The judges even wondered what would happen to the decided appeals under the scheme in case the Centre revokes the scheme altogether.

The HC has asked Singh to make a statement that any person seeking personal hearing will be permitted to do so whereas the others seeking hearing through the faceless scheme can continue to do so.

The HC has kept the matter for further hearing on December 3.

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