CBDT issued Revised Instruction for constitution and functioning of Local Committees to deal with Taxpayersâ€™ Grievances from High-Pitched Scrutiny Assessment
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (the ‘CBDT’), by its Instruction No.17/2015 dated 09.11.2015 (copy enclosed) provided for constitution of ‘Local Committees to deal with Taxpayers’ Grievances from High-Pitched Scrutiny Assessment’ in each Pr.CCIT region. The Local Committees were constituted to expeditiously deal with Taxpayers’ grievances arising from High-Pitched Scrutiny Assessment.
2. Taking into consideration the changes in organizational set-up subsequent to launch of Faceless Assessment regime, the CBDT, in exercise of its powers under section 119 of the Income-tax Act,196l(‘the Act’) and in supersession of its earlier Instruction No. 17/2015 dated 09.11.2015, hereby issues the following instructions regarding constitution and functioning of ‘Local Committees to deal with Taxpayers’ Grievances from High-Pitched Scrutiny Assessment’:
A. Constitution of Local Committees:
(i) Local Committees to deal with Taxpayers' Grievances from High-Pitched Scrutiny Assessment (‘Local Committees’) are required to be constituted in each Pr.CCIT region across the country including the Pr.CCIT(Exemption) and Pr.CCIT (International Taxation).
(a) The Local Committee shall consist of 3 members of Pr.CIT/CIT rank. To have a perspective of processes involved in Faceless Assessment process, Local Committees so constituted in each Pr. CCIT region and Pr.CCIT(Exemption) shall have one Pr.CIT (AU) of the region. The Local Committee constituted under the Pr.CCIT(International Taxation) need not have a Pr.CIT(AU) as a member, as the assessments under the International Taxation charges are outside the purview of Faceless Assessment regime.
(b) The other members may be selected from the pool of officers posted as Pr.CslT/Pr. CIT(Cenbal)/CIT(Judicial)/ CIT(Audit)/CsIT(DR),ITAT of the respectivc Pr.CCIT region. For the Local Committees constituted under the Pr.CCIT(Exemption) and Pr.CCIT(International Taxation), members may be selected from their respective pool of officers.
(c) The senior most Member would be designated as the Chairperson of the Committee.
(d) The Addl. CIT (Headquarters) to such Pr. CCIT would act as a Member- Secretary to the Local Committee.
(ii) The Local Committees so constituted may co-opt other members, if necessary.
(iii) The Pr. CCIT concerned should ensure that the Local Committees are duly re-constituted after transfer/promotion of Members of the existing Local Committees.
(iv) Adequate publicity shall be given regarding constitution and functioning of Local Committees for filing of grievance petitions regarding High-Pitch Scrutiny Assessments. The communication address of such Local Committees shall be displayed at prominent places in the office building.
B. Jurisdiction of Local Committees:
The Local Committees constituted as above shall dell with the grievance petitions of the assessees under the jurisdiction of respective Pr.CCIT regarding High-Pitched Scrutiny Assessments completed under both Faceless and non-Faceless Assessment regimes. These Committees constituted in Pr. CCIT Region will also handle the grievances pertaining to Central Charges located under the territorial jurisdiction of the Pr. CCIT concerned.
C. Receipt of Grievances:
(i) Grievances related to High-Pitched Scrutiny Assessments completed under the Faceless Assessment regime will be received by NaFAC through dedicated e-mail id: firstname.lastname@example.org. in. Grievances so received shall be forwarded to Local Committee of the Pr. CCIT concerned by NaFAC, under intimation to Pr. CCIT of the Region/ Pr.CCIT(Exemption).
(ii) Grievances related to High-Pitched Scrutiny Assessments completed under the non- Faceless Assessment regime will be received by the office of Pr.CCIT concerned, physically or through e-mail. Grievances so received shall be forwarded to Local Committee of the Pr. CCIT concerned.
D. Action to be taken by the Local Committees on grievance petitions:
(i) A grievance petition received by the Local Committee would be acknowledged. A separate record would be maintained for dealing with such petitions by the Member- Secretary.
(ii) Member — Secretary on receipt of taxpayers' grievances of High-Pitched Assessment, will forward the same to the Chairman and Members of the Local Committee within three days of receipt of the grievance.
(iii) The grievance petition received by Local Committee would be examined by it to ascertain whether there is a prima-facie case of High-Pitched Assessment, non-observance of principles of natural justice, non-application of mind or gross negligence of Assessing Officer/Assessment Unit.
(iv) The Local Committee may call for the relevant assessment records to peruse from the Jurisdictional Pr.CIT concerned.
(vi) The Local Committee may seek inputs from the Directorate of Systems (ITBA/e- filing/CPC-ITR, CPC-TDS, etc.), on Systems-related emanating from the grievance/matter under consideration, if considered necessary.
(vii) Local Committee would ascertain whether the addition(s) made in assessment order is/are not backed by any sound reason or logic, the provisions of law have grossly been misinterpreted or obvious and well-established facts on records have out rightly been ignored. The Committee would also take into consideration whether principles of natural justice have been followed by the Assessing Officer/Assessment Unit. Thereafter, Local Committee shall submit a report treating the order as High-Pitched/Not High-pitched, along with the reasons, to the Pr. CCIT concerned.
(viii) The Local Committee shall endeavor to dispose of each grievance petition within two months from the end of the month in which such petition is received by it.
(ix) Member- Secretary will ensure that the meetings of the Local Committees are held at least twice in every month during the pendency of the grievance petitions and that timely reports are submitted to the Pr. CCIT concerned.
E. Follow up action by Pr.CCIT:
(i) On receipt of the report of Local Committee, Pr. CCIT concerned may take suitable administrative action in respect of cases where assessment was found to be High-Pitched by the Local Committee, which inter-alia include:
a) Calling for explanation of the Assessing Officer/Assessment Unit (through Pr.CCIT,NaFAC) and any other administrative action as deemed fit.
b) Administratively advise the Pr.CIT concerned to prevent any coercive recovery in cases identified as high pitched by the Local Committee.
(ii) The findings of the report of the Local Committee may also be shared by the Pr.CCIT concerned with NaFAC and/or Directorate of lnoome-to(Systems), es feedback, for revisiting the SOP/policy on Faceless Assessment and/or addressing the Systems related issues.
F. Monitoring the functioning of Local Committee:
(i) The Pr. CCIT concerned shall review the work of the Local Committee on a monthly basis. Pr. CCsIT shall highlight outcome of work of Local Committees along with the action taken on the suggestions made by the Local Committees in respect of cases where assessment were found to be High-Pitched by the Local Committees, in their monthly D.O. letters to the respective Zonal Member.
(ii) Quarterly Report regarding the functioning of Local Committees shall be furnished by the Pr. CCIT concerned to the O/o Member (IT&R), CBDT under intimation to the respective Zonal Member in the prescribed format (copy enclosed) by 15" of the month following the quarter ended.
3. The purpose of constitution of Local Committees is to effectively and efficiently deal with the genuine grievances of taxpayers and help in supporting an environment where assessment orders are passed in a fair and reasonable manner. It is to be noted that Local Committees cannot be treated as an alternative forum to dispute resolution/appellate proceedings.
4. It is emphasized that the task of constitution of Local Committees as per this Instruction be finalized within 15 days of issue of this Instruction or 30.04.2022, whichever is later, and compliance report may be sent by the Jurisdictional Pr. CCsIT/Pr. CCIT (Intl.Tax.)/ Pr.CCIT(Exemptions) to their respective Zonal Members with a copy to Member (IT&R), CBDT.