1. This reference was called out yesterday, when it was noticed that no books were supplied to the assessee or their counsel. It was, therefore, adjourned to today to enable the Department to make the books available to the counsel for the assessee who were appearing in the reference. When the matter is called out, Mr. Mehta, who has appeared on behalf of the assessee, has again made a grievance that no books have been supplied and he is, therefore, unable to go on with the reference.
2. Time and again it has been pointed out by us to the learned counsel for the Revenue that no attention is being paid by the Department or whoever is concerned with the conduct of these references to the fact as to whether the assessee have been served and whether books have been supplied to the counsel for the assessees. Needless to say that more than 80 per cent. of the Income-tax References are made at the instance of the Revenue. We are now dealing with the references of 1974. They have been notified sufficiently in advance to enable proper arrangements to be made on behalf of the Revenue to ensure that service has been effected on the assessees and books have been supplied to the assessees. There have been a large number of cases in which we could have declined to proceed with the matter, because either the assessees are not served or books have not been supplied to the assessees. It must be said to the credit of the counsel for the assessees, who normally appear before the Tax Bench, that they have tried to accommodate the Revenue by taking part in the hearing at a considerable short notice and sometimes the books have been made available on the same day or on the previous day. We have, however, now reached a stage where it is impossible to show any further indulgence to the Department. The only conclusion that we can reach is either that the Revenue is not interested in the conduct of these proceedings in references or that no adequate arrangements have been made by the Department concerned. The obvious result is that in many cases the Revenue stands to suffer for which the blame must squarely fall on that part of the Law Department which is entrusted with the conduct of these proceedings.
3. We are constrained to make this order only after we have found that in spite of repeated warnings given by the Bench, session after session, that the Revenue should take care to see that the parties are served in time and books are also filed in time and made available to the assessees, there is no improvement in the state of affairs and these warnings have fallen on deaf ears. The Department must itself be blamed if the old references remain undisposed of in spite of the fact that Tax Bench is now constituted almost all round the year. We do not think that any useful purpose will be served by the Tax Bench sitting throughout the year because the concerned Department is unable to make arrangements to make hearing of references possible throughout the year. So far as the present reference is concerned, we decline to answer the question because no paper books have been supplied, and this must be treated as inability on the part of the Department to prosecute the reference.
4. No order as to costs.