Ahead of the 2020-21 Union Budget, Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde has given a word of caution stating that excessive tax results are a form of social injustice by the government.
"While tax evasion is a social injustice to fellow citizens, the arbitrary or excessive tax also results in social injustice by a government", said CJI while addressing an event that was held to mark the 79th Foundation ceremony of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.
“There is no denial of the fact that tax administration is complex. With so many amendments one after another, provisions with exceptions, provisos, cross-references, many delegated legislations; it is one of the most mazed branches of law", said Bobde.
The comment by the Chief Justice gains prominence as the union budget is set to be unveiled on February 1, and could well be a subtle note to the finance ministry to emphasize on easing the tax system.
CJI Bobde also re-emphasized the need to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) for the judiciary while describing the number of cases that are pending in different courts. He said some people are behind the bars for 10-15 years, and the judges are unable to attend to all of their cases.
As the High Courts and the Supreme Court take too long to pass the verdict, they feel releasing them on bail is just. Though Bobde said there should be no use of AI in decision making and that it cannot be substituted for human decision making.
"We have been dealing with the introduction of AI in courts. I am of the view, based on the experience of systems I have used, that it is only the repetitive areas of decision making like rates of taxation, etc or things that are invariably the same or are mechanical that must be covered by AI. I do not believe that AI should ever be allowed to substitute the human discretion which is necessary for a just decision making. The AI system we are looking to employ in courts possess reading speeds of a million characters per second. I can imagine such a system be used to extract all relevant facts, compute tax effects and assist in millions of ways to propel the pace of decision making", said Bobde.
Earlier in January, CJI Bobde said that AI can help in reducing the delay of implementing the judgement. "We have the possibility of developing Artificial Intelligence for the court system. Only for the purpose of ensuring that the undue delay in justice is prevented. I must make it clear at the outset as there are times when even judges have asked this. AI is not going to replace human judges or human discretion", the Chief Justice opined.