Speed Check of ITAT Forums
Continuing our analysis on factors that may affect the timeline of a case, we thought of analysing data for different Income Tax Appellate Tribunals and check how they measured against each other. The data used here is for the Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, and Chennai tribunals, starting from year 2000.
The fast and the not so fast
ITAT Chennai with an average disposal duration of 1 year is the forum that comes out as the most efficient forum and Ahmedabad at an average of just under 3 years fares the worst. Mumbai too is at 2.5 years, and it is the forum with the highest number of cases.
Some interesting insights from the box-plot shown above:
- Chennai disposed 50% of its cases within just one year.
- It took 3 years for Ahmedabad, and approximately 2 years for Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata to dispose the 50% of cases.
- Ahmedabad picks up the pace in disposing the next 25% cases.
- The time required to disposed 75% cases is similar for Ahmedabad and Mumbai at just under 4 years, with Delhi and Kolkata close behind.
- The reason for the high average in Ahmedabad and Mumbai can be attributed to a few cases which took unusually long time to resolve, some more than 16 years.
- The number of outlier cases in ITAT Kolkata is very low. This indicates that the ITAT has been giving equal preference to all the cases irrespective of when they were filed and ensuring that cases do not drag on for years.
Also read: The Legal Issue and Timeline Nexus
Speed limiting factors
The efficiency of each tribunal can differ due to reasons such as the burden of cases on a set of judges, type of cases filed, and the relative preference given by a tribunal to different type of cases.
In this article, we limit our analysis to the number of cases disposed per judge in each forum for a period of three years starting from Financial Year 2014-15.
Too much or too slow?
But the story has more dimensions.
We looked at all the ITAT judge data in our database (2014-15 onwards) to get a sense of the amount of work load they have to bear in recent times.
From the data above, we see that the Mumbai ITAT almost doubled the number of judges in 2015-16, and by 2016-17 it seemed to be a move that has been showing a positive impact. The number of cases filed/judge is quite high and in comparison the disposal statistics for the Mumbai ITAT are the best.
Apart from Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad ITATs are also striving towards a high efficiency but the volume of new cases is quite high and adding more judges will considerably improve the situation. The ITAT Surat, established earlier this year would definitely help in reducing the load at the Ahmedabad ITAT.
Kolkata & Delhi ITATs seem to have the case to judge ratio right but the rate of disposal is comparatively lesser than the other ITATs.
Pending cases rising
If you see the bar chart above, what stands out is that for no year and for no forum the cases disposed are higher than the cases filed. This means that the number of pending cases is only increasing with every year. This is particularly stark in the case of ITAT Delhi, indicating that the average duration of disposal might increase in future if the trend continues.
(Written by Anuj Sharma, Product Counsel and Rutuja Udyawar, VP – Data Analytics @ Riverus)
A similar analysis was done in the NIPFP working paper for ITAT Mumbai and ITAT Delhi, using data of cases filed and disposed for the period January 2013 to March 2016.