Income tax gazetted Officers association writes to CBDT Chairman about problems faced in assessments in new module of systems
It is most unfortunate that we are compelled to write to you for several times within the space of only 25 days on the same issue quoted above. Though the recent amendment in Finance Bill, 2022 related to sec 153 & 153B of IT Act, 1961 is expected to provide some succour to the heavily stressed assessing officers by way of extension of time barring date of regular (CASS) assessment cases and Search & Seizure related assessment cases, it is still considered to be too little and too late.
Your office was repeatedly informed about the problems confronted by the Departmental officers while passing assessment orders of reopened scrutiny cases and completing the preliminaries for issuing the notices for reopening. It is very unfortunate that despite appreciating the genuine difficulties, the extension of TB dates for passing assessment orders of reopened scrutiny cases and issuing the notices for reopening were not proposed in Parliament.
It is the tendency of the authorities in our Department to pass the buck and blame the junior officers in the field for all the delays. However, this time it is apparent that the entire lacunae is due to the shortcomings of the modules or the system, inability to work simultaneously in multiple digital platforms without separate logging in facility, very late pushing of cases effectively leaving only a couple of months to complete them, unnecessarily lengthy work process laid down in the SOPS, huge shortage of the officers due to no promotion in the last few years, just to name a few. Besides, the third wave of Covid induced prohibitions have eaten into substantial amount of their available time.
For issuing notices u/s 148, we have flagged the issue of delayed dissemination of information despite insertion of section 148A, which is a very complicated piece of legislation leaving it open to numerous interpretations. Again, the very lengthy procedural requirements (approval of the Principal CIT required in four occasions 10188(0812 case), severe shortage of the officers, unmanageable workload upon merger of jurisdictional charges and the pressure of completing the assessment cases pushed in the very last moment have left JA0s In the lurch. We are at a loss to understand whether the Authorities think these reasons are not pressing enough to propose for extending the time barring date.
The reality is that under the unbearable pressure of time barring matters, few of our members have already been hospitalized while others are under grave mental trauma. We apprehend more such unfortunate incidents, which could have easily been avoided, if positive initiatives were taken in time.
Even in such grim scenario, our members are working round the clock without a break, in order to complete all time barring cases with only a couple of days left from the time barring date. We take this opportunity to reiterate that none of our members shall be held responsible for any matter getting time barred or the assessment orders are viewed adversely by the external authorities (including C&AG and the Hon’ble Courts), for reasons beyond their control. However, we once again requested your good office to stand by the subordinate officers/officials to spell out in unambiguous term that no adverse step will be initiated against any of them for any issue relating to current time barring matters, caused due to technical reasons and other mismanagements, not attributable to them. Such message from your desk will not only assuage their injured sentiment but restore their confidence on their higher ups.
This is for your kind consideration and necessary action.