Going paperless, in a latest digitisation bid, the Supreme Court of India has asked the Union government to priortise mandatory e-filing of papers in all revenue matters in the top court, high courts and tribunals like the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) and the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal within three months.
The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala said a greenfield tribunal like GST Tribunal, which is in the process of being established, can be made paperless from the beginning.
The SC bench was hearing an appeal in a revenue matter filed by the Commissioner of Central Excise and Service Tax, Surat against Bilfinder Neo Structo Construction Ltd.
“We are of the view that the Central government must now take all expeditious steps to ensure e-filing of records before high courts as well as CESTAT and ITAT…All necessary steps be taken to make e-filing universal in revenue matters in a period of three months,” the bench said in its order.
The bench found “worthy of acceptance” the proposal that e-filing of documents and pleas before the Goods and Service Tax Tribunal (GSTT) be made mandatory from the outset to ensure that this greenfield panel becomes paperless since its inception.
At the outset, the bench orally asked the counsel appearing for the revenue department as to why e-filing has not been opted in the matter as it will save paper. “You can also ask your law officers to interact with the chief justices of the high courts on this,” the bench said, adding e-filing can be done before tribunals like ITAT and CESTAT.
“Get the NIC (National Informatics Centre) onboard and the greenfield like the GST Tribunal can go for e-filing from the beginning and can become a paperless court from the outset,” the SC bench said.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh submitted a note on the initiatives taken by the central government with regard to revenue litigations. The bench has now posted the matter for further consideration in February 2023.
Earlier, the top court was informed by the Centre that it had constituted a committee, headed by Ashish Shiradhonkar who was heading the e-courts project at the NIC, to develop a technological platform streamlining the appeal filing process related to direct and indirect taxation matters.