ITAT: Retrospective rights listening video – Times of India

Mumbai: Recently the Bench of Mumbai has given a decision. Income tax Appellate Tribunal (on it) will benefit a group of taxpayers whose right of personal hearing through video conferencing was denied in the earlier mechanism faceless appeal,
The ITAT bench – made up of vice-chairman Pramod Kumar and judicial member AB T Varkey – said the revised plan (introduced last December), which provides that personal hearing through video conferencing will be available in ‘all’ cases When the taxpayer makes such request, it shall be applicable with retrospective effect. This decision was given in the case of Bank of India and is binding on the tax authorities in their territorial jurisdiction – a significant percentage of the higher pricing and consequently the appeals are concentrated in Mumbai. In all other respects, it will strengthen the stand of the taxpayers.
In the past, several requests for personal hearing, albeit through video conference, were made by individuals and business entities at the first appellate level (with Commissioner-Appeals) for their appeal cases, were turned down. For appeals involving high demands or complicated transactions, this refusal was a serious blow to taxpayers.
Under the earlier scheme of faceless appeal, the taxpayer had no opportunity of personal hearing as a matter of right. The discretion to accept such request lies with the Chief Commissioner or the Director General in charge of the Regional Faceless Appeal Centre. Following lawsuits challenging the scheme, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) revised it last December, removing discretionary powers and allowing individual hearings in all cases when requested.
The ITAT Bench relied on two Supreme Court judgments that dealt with the principle of fairness. The top court had said, “Where a law is made for the benefit of the entire community, even in the absence of a provision, the idol can be considered. retroactive in nature.”
In this background, with reference to faceless appeal, the members of ITAT in their order states, “This is an amendment to the Faceless Appeal Rules, with the objective of removing undue hardships to the taxpayer in presenting his cases before the First Appellate Authority. , and when such amendment is made to address the deficiencies of the scheme, and thereby remove unforeseen difficulties for the taxpayers, the amendment should be treated as retrospective.
The matter has been referred back to the Commissioner (Appeals) and the appellant, Bank of India will be allowed personal hearing.