ITAT Mumbai to take up urgent cases through Whatsapp and Skype

Surabhi Mumbai | Updated on March 22, 2020

With Maharashtra leading the country in the largest number of coronavirus cases, the Mumbai bench of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal(ITAT) has now decided to hear urgent cases through Skype or WhatsApp video group call.

“It has been decided that henceforth, and till further orders, the ITAT, Mumbai benches, will hear only extremely urgent matters, such as, for example, stay petitions in deserving cases, preferably through web-based video conferencing call such as skype or WhatsApp video group call etc,” it said in new instructions, adding that the parties are at liberty to address the arguments, through skype or WhatsApp group call, from a place of their convenience, during this period.

“In effect, physical presence of the parties in the court room is not necessary,” it stressed.

Extremely urgent hearings can take place in the physical court rooms wherever the parties want the extremely urgent hearings in the physical court rooms only, or wherever the hearing through web-based video conference call is not possible, it has further said.

The parties seeking an extremely urgent hearing can apply by email to the Tribunal clearly explaining the reason for an urgent hearing is sought, their WhatsApp numbers, their preferred email addresses. If satisfied, the Tribunal will allocate time to them.

“The developing situation about the coronavirus epidemic continues to be a serious cause of concern, and, in the light of this developing situation in Mumbai and in consultation with the stakeholders, it has been decided, at Mumbai Zonal level, to take certain further measures, on experimental basis, to ensure that, on one hand, we minimise the possibilities of spread of novel coronavirus epidemic, and, on the other hand, we also ensure that extremely urgent work at the ITAT does not suffer,” said Pramod Kumar, Vice President, ITAT Mumbai.

Earlier, the ITAT Mumbai had said that court rooms should not be overcrowded and had said only directly involved parties and authorised persons should be present in court rooms for hearing.

But later, concerned by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal had decided that the functioning of the Benches from March 17 to March 27 would be restricted only to urgent matters.

The Supreme Court has also taken preventive measures to arrest the spread of the coronavirus infection.

Published on March 22, 2020

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