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National Tax Tribunal cleared

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Oct. 3

IN a slew of decisions, the Union Cabinet today approved setting up of a National Tax Tribunal, a commission to work out modalities for reservation for economically weaker sections, the auto fuel policy and a 24-hour television news channel by Prasar Bharati.

The National Tax Tribunal would form the court of appeal for cases decided by Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) and Central Excise and Sales Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT). The 28,000 tax-related cases pending with different high courts will be transferred to the new Tribunal, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Ms Sushma Swaraj, told reporters after the meeting.

"The disposal rate of the tax related cases is 6,000 per year, which means that the time lag as of now is at least five years. The Government found that the number of new cases in high courts far exceed the number of cases disposed. Different high courts also end up giving contradictory judgments on similar cases. With the new Tribunal, all such problems will be taken care of," Ms Swaraj said.

The National Tax Tribunal would have 25 Benches and would take up all appeals against ITAT and CESTAT. The Supreme Court will remain the final court of appeal, she said, adding that the Tribunal would help remove at least one tier from the system.

The decision to set up the Tribunal is in line with the recommendations of the Law Commission and the Choksey Committee, she said.

Reservation for economically weaker sections: In another major decision, the Cabinet gave its in-principle approval to reservation to economically weaker sections. A commission would be set up to define economically weaker sections, recommend the quantum of reservation and elicit the response of state governments to the proposal.

The Government would amend Article15 and Article 16 to include the term "economically weaker sections" in the statute and the States would get the right to set quota limits, Ms Swaraj said.

24-hour DD news channel: The Minister said that the private news channels would soon have competition from a 24-hour television news channel from Prasar Bharati Corporation.

The Corporation's Board had recommended winding up of DD Metro channel and replacing it with DD News. The new channel has been approved by the Cabinet and would go on air from November 3, she said.

The Government would bear the cost of running the channel for two years, after which it was expected to become self-generating, Ms Swaraj said, adding that the proposed channel would get Rs 54 crore as budgetary support per annum till it stabilised.

Official sources said that the Cabinet also cleared the Auto Fuels Policy that lays the roadmap for refineries in the country to switch to the more advanced Euro-III and Euro-IV emission norms. The policy also entails certain incentives to the refineries to switch to cleaner fuels. Details, however, were not available.

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