Remember the Case of Lakshya Buddhiraja?
Well yes Friends, it was this case only, where the Faceless Appeal Scheme of CBDT, has been challenged on the grounds of violation of Principles of Natural Justice for the very first time. In this case, the discretionary power vested in the appellate authorities, for granting personal hearings to the appellants through video conferencing, in the Faceless Appeal Scheme, 2020, was being challenged.
This case travelled upto the hon'ble Supreme Court, and the hon'ble Apex Court in its judgement (CBDT vs. Lakshya Budhiraja & Anr.) dated 1.10.2021 in transfer petition (civil) no. 1445-1446/2021, has deferred the matter for final adjusication for three months, on the submission of the Additional Solicitor General of India (representing CBDT) that the CBDT is having a second look on the Faceless Appeal Scheme, 2020, and it may require the Change of Law.
Consequently, amid the fast approaching deadline of three months, the CBDT has notified the Revised Faceless Appeal Scheme, 2021.
As per the new scheme, a personal hearing through Video Conference can be requested and when request is made the same shall be allowed. No discretion with the Appellate Authority/CIT (A) to refuse such request of oral hearing through VC.
The relevant part of scheme reads as under:-
“12.) No personal appearance in the Centres or Units
(1) A person shall not be required to appear either personally or through authorised representative in connection with any proceedings under this Scheme before the income-tax authority at the National Faceless Appeal Centre or appeal unit set up under this Scheme.
(2) The appellant or his authorised representative, as the case may be, may request for personal hearing so as to make his oral submissions or present his case before the Commissioner (Appeals), through the National Faceless Appeal Centre, under this Scheme.
(3) The concerned Commissioner (Appeals) shall allow the request for personal hearing and communicate the date and time of hearing to the appellant through the National Faceless Appeal Centre.
(4) Such hearing shall be conducted through video conferencing or video telephony, including use of any telecommunication application software which supports video conferencing or video telephony, to the extent technologically feasible, in accordance with the procedure.
For ready reference of our Readers, the Revised Faceless Appeal Scheme, 2021, as notified by CBDT on 28.12.2021 is enclosed herewith as per PDF file below.