A K Banerjee : CESTAT?on fire

The conduct of government officers has plumbed new depths. Their brazenness was in full public display in the courtroom of Customs and Excise Service tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT).

Recently, 54 advocates submitted a written complaint to the president regarding the unruly behaviour of two of the senior departmental representatives (SDR) — Sumit Kumar and Istikar Baig The members of the bar sought to report the misbehaviour of the above mentioned in the open court on 9/9/2009 before the Bench of P K Das Member (Judicial) when advocate Hemant Bajaj, a member of the bar, was representing his client R.S.Industries vs. CCE Jaipur in appeal no E/1463/06-SM(BR).

The Bench passed the order, allowing the appeal of revenue and remanding the matter to the adjudicating authority. The department was represented

by Baig.

Immediately after the order was pronounced, Sumit Kumar stood up and started shouting that the order passed was perversed and biased. He further said that the bench had no knowledge of law.

Both SDRs were constantly interrupting when the judgment was dictated by the bench.  The bench politely told them not to do so.

The members further alleged that Sumit Kumar did not stop there and said the bench should refrain from hearing of matters of certain advocates, thereby imputing motives and bias on the part of the bench.

The members also pointed out that the outburst of the SDR constitutes

an unwarranted interference and maligning the professional duties of the advocates The petitioner further alleged that the statement made by the SDRs were without any basis and evidence and were made deliberately and with ulterior and oblique motives and with purpose to scandalize the bench and for causing professional harm to the bar at large.

They further said that Sumit Kumar is prone to such unruly behaviour and had on earlier occasions too misbehaved with the members of bar during the court proceedings. Once he had gone to the extent of abusing A R Madhav Rao in the court of S S Kang and Rakesh Kumar. The matter was put to rest when joint Chief Departmental Representative (CDR) Thakur apologised on behalf of Sumit Kumar.

Two earlier presidents of the bench, Justice R K Abhichandani and Justice S N Jha asked Sumit Kumar not to appear in any matter listed before them.

With so many allegations and counter allegations flying thick and fast, one needs to dig out the reason behind it. Also, one needs to keep in mind that this is not a recent development but has been happening over a long period of time. With the outcome of any judgment forever remaining the bone of contention with huge money being at stake, it is about time the working of CESTAT is given a drastic overhaul.