Published On: Tue, Apr 28th, 2020

CBIC asks field offices to conduct virtual hearings in customs, excise, service tax appeals

New Delhi: The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has asked field offices to conduct hearings in customs, excise and service tax appeal cases via video conference with the consent of the appellant or respondent to ensure social distancing amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

CBIC Chairman M Ajit Kumar

The CBIC on Monday issued guidelines for conducting personal hearings in virtual mode under Customs Act and said that this would also apply to those cases under Central Excise Act 1944 and Chapter V of Finance Act 1994.

While ensuring compliance with guidelines and instructions issued by the government and public health authorities, the board has decided that personal hearing for any proceeding under Customs Act, 1962, given by authorities such as Commissioner (Appeals), Original adjudicating authorities and Compounding authority, may be conducted through video conferencing, the CBIC said.

In its instructions to the field offices, the CBIC said in any proceedings before appellate or adjudicating authority, the party, either as appellant or respondent, shall give his consent to avail personal hearings before such authority, through video conferencing facility, at the time of filing his appeal.

In case of pending appeals/adjudication matter, the entities will have to give their consent immediately.

The entities which are undergoing appeals and adjudication process will also have to submit to the officers their email address for correspondence.

“This would also facilitate importers, exporters, passengers, advocates, tax practitioners and authorised representatives to maintain social distancing while performing their work at ease, from a place of their choice,” it added.

The guidelines also state that persons participating in video conference should be appropriately dressed and maintain the required decorum.

AMRG & Associates Senior Partner Rajat Mohan said CBIC has embraced the use of modern communication technology to create a virtual working environment.

“This initiative would permit quick delivery of justice to taxpayers by adjudicating authorities and commissioner (appeals). Detailed guidelines for the conduct of said video conferencing has been specified by board whereby consent of taxpayer is must before any such electronic personal hearing,” Mohan added.

EY Tax Partner Abhishek Jain said “This facilitative measure comes as quite a welcome one for businesses who are keen on obtaining a certainty on pending litigations and with it being an optional measure only, it ensures flexibility from a tax payer perspective”.


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