R S Sharma : Now Taxpayers Grievance can be resolved by Ombudsman
Finally there is someone on whose shoulders a tax payer can cry and complain about the treatment meted out to him by Field Officers who claim themselves to be ultimate decision makers when it comes to denying the just benefits to taxpayers.
Government has appointed Indirect Tax Ombudsman in Delhi, Bangalore & Lucknow for resolution of complaints relating to public grievances against Customs, Excise & Service Tax Department and to facilitate the satisfaction or settlement of such complaints.
Ombudsman has jurisdiction to entertain applications on matters related to delay in delay in giving effect to Appellate orders, the issue of refunds or rebate beyond time limits prescribed by law or CBEC Instructions, delay in granting registration; delay in adjudication; non adherence to the principle of “ First Come First Served” in sending refunds; non adherence to the rules prescribed for disbursement of drawback; non acknowledgement of letters or documents sent to the department; delay in release of seized books of account and assets, after the proceedings are completed; non adherence to prescribed working hours by Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax officials; unwarranted rude behaviour of officials with assessees; and any other matter relating to violation of the administrative instructions and circulars issued by CBEC.
However, before making a complaint to the Ombudsman, a written representation to the Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax authority superior to the one complained against and Grievance Cell of the concerned Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax office is required to be sent and when no reply is received within one month or complainant is not satisfied with the reply given to him; the complainant is eligible to file Application before Ombudsman.
The proceedings before the Ombudsman are summary in nature. Ombudsman is required to promote a settlement of the complaint by agreement between the complainant and such authority through conciliation or mediation. If a complaint is not settled by agreement within a period of one month the Ombudsman may pass an award after allowing the parties a reasonable opportunity to present their case. Award will comprise directions to the concerned Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax Authority on performance of its obligations like expediting delayed matters, giving reasons for decisions/orders and issuing apology to complainants etc.,
A token compensation up to Rs. 5000/- for the loss suffered by the complainant can be granted by Ombudsman. The “award? shall be binding on the concerned Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax office as well as on the complainant. If Award is passed the information will be reflected in the ACR of the concerned officers.