KARACHI: The Cut and Paste of paragraphs in different appeals irked an Income Tax Appellate bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) comprising Justice Muhammad Junaid Ghaffar and Justice Jawad Akbar Sarwana.

The bench earlier heard Omer Memon Advocate appearing for the Appellant Rakesh Keshwani in Income Tax Reference Application (ITRA) No 82 and 830f 2024 challening the impunged order dated 12.1.2024 passed by Appellate Tribunal, Inland Revenue, Karachi.

The bench at the outset of hearing notice that para 3 to para 5 is verbatim same to another order  dated 14.9.2023 by another bench of the Tribunal in ITA No 377/KB/2023 in respect of identical issue that is whether the appeal  filed by the tax payer was time barred and whether any case for  condonation was made out or not. The court noted that said order was assailed before it in ITRA No 400 of 2023 and was also fixed for hearing today i.e 14.5.2024. The SHC bench suspended the order of the Tribunal.

The bench after hearing the sides passed the following order:

Text of the Order

“In the impugned order of the Tribunal (which incidentally is subsequent to the order in ITA No377/KB/2023) identical words and facts have been recorded, including the observation that “the Applicant has not denied or controverted the service of order through electronic means” and therefore, we are constrained to observe that such act of the Division Bench of the Tribunal not only appears to be very casual; but so also depicts negligence in attending to the facts of a particular case. We sincerely believe that it is not an outcome of 1Commissioner Inland Revenue v RYK Mills Lahore; (SC citation- 2023 SCP 226); Also see Commissioner Inland Revenue v. Sargodha Spinning Mills, (2022 SCMR 1082); Commissioner Inland Revenue v. MCB Bank Limited, (2021 PTD 1367); Wateen Telecom Limited v Commissioner Inland Revenue (2015 PTD 936) 3 engaging some Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) as otherwise there will be a serious question mark as to the accuracy as well as authenticity of such AI judgments, of which lately, there is so much of discussion all around. This appears to be more of an unnecessarily hurried “cut and paste” approach. Earlier in somewhat similar facts pertaining to the conduct of Customs Appellate Tribunal this Court vide its order dated 28.11.2023 passed in SCRA No. 1234 & 1235 of 2023 had observed as under: Today, the learned Chairman of the Customs Appellate Tribunal is in attendance and has filed a statement along with various documents including orders/notifications and submits that insofar as the orders in question are concerned, being Chairman of the Tribunal, he has no control on such conduct of the Members of the Tribunal who are passing orders on the judicial side independently and he cannot interfere; nor monitor the orders so passed by the respective Judicial and Technical Members of the Benches at Karachi. To that extent, we agree and are also of the view that the Chairman cannot interfere in the independent exercise of powers by the respective Members. However, there has to be some monitoring and case management on the administrative side by his office so that some uniformity is achieved by the Members of the Tribunal in dealing with similar or identical matters. It is a matter of record that the order impugned in these Reference Applications is in respect of Valuation Ruling bearing No. 1681/2022 dated 22.07.2022, whereas, in another set of Appeals which came before us in SCRA No. 1193/2023 (The Director General Customs Valuation v. Prime Trading) and other connected matters the same Valuation Ruling was impugned and though two different Benches had dealt with the same Valuation Ruling; but an identical verbatim order has been passed, as if the said order has been passed by the same Member. In fact, in reality it is not so. It does not appeal to a prudent mind that two different Members of the Tribunal, though dealing with same Valuation Ruling can pass a verbatim same order, and also commit the same mistake on facts in the same Para 10 & 11 as had been done by the earlier bench. In view of the above facts we do not see any reason to sustain the impugned order, whereas, today in the earlier part of the day we have already set-aside the order on the basis of which the impugned order in question has been passed, therefore, the impugned order stands set aside and the matter stands remanded to the Tribunal to decide the issue of limitation afresh after calling proper comments and supporting documents from the concerned Commissioner. If the condonation application is granted, then the matter shall also be decided on merits as well. The above question is answered accordingly. Let copy of this order be issued to 4 the Tribunal in terms of Section 133(5) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.Office to place a copy of this order in the connected matter. Office is further directed to issue copy of this order to the Ministry of Law and Justice for necessary action on their part, if any, whereas, a copy may also be placed before the Inspecting Judge, of this Court nominated for Inland Revenue Tribunal by the Hon’ble Chief Justice for action, if any.

It is worth mentioning that Sardar Zafar Hussain Advocate who represents Pakistan Customs as Panel Lawyer pointed out the cut and paste practice adopted by the Customs Appellate Tribunal.