The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today in her budget speech for the Financial Year 2023-24 in Lok Sabha announced that phase-3 of the E-Courts will be launched with an outlay of Rs. 7,000/- crore for the efficient administration of justice.

There will also be an improvement in compliance and tax administration according to the Minister.

Phase three of the E-Courts Project focuses on a judicial system that is more accessible, efficient, and equitable for every individual who seeks justice or is part of the delivery of justice, in India, as per the details available on the website of the Department of Justice in the Union law Ministry.

Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had recently indicated regarding phase three of the said project.

“To settle contractual disputes of government and government undertakings, wherein arbitral award is under challenge in a court, a voluntary settlement scheme with standardized terms will be introduced. This will be done by offering graded settlement terms depending on pendency level of the dispute”, as per para 67 of the document of budget available on the government website.

Under the head ‘IMPROVING COMPLIANCE AND TAX ADMINISTRATION’ it says that with respect to the rectification of orders by the Interim Board of Settlement, it is proposed to provide that where the time-limit for amending an order by it or for making an application to it expires on or after 01.02.2021 but before 01.02.2022, such time-limit shall stand extended to 30.09.2023.

“To expedite the disposal of certain appeals pending with Commissioner (Appeals), it is proposed to introduce a new authority in the rank of Joint Commissioner/ Additional Commissioner [JCIT(Appeals)], for appeals against certain orders passed by or with the approval of an authority below the rank of Joint Commissioner. Certain related and consequential amendments are also proposed in this regard”, stated under the said head.

It is also proposed to reduce the minimum time period required to be provided by the transfer pricing officer to assessee for the production of documents and information from 30 days to 10 days and to provide for an appeal against penalty orders passed by the Commissioner (Appeals) under certain Sections of the Act before the Appellate Tribunal.

“It is also proposed that in cases where search under section 132 of the Act or requisition under section 132A of the Act has been made, the period of limitation of pending assessments shall be extended by twelve months”, mentions the document.

The focus is also to make amendments to empower the Central Government to make modifications in the already notified schemes regarding e-Verification, Dispute Resolution, Advance Rulings, Appeals, and Penalties, at any time to enable better implementation of such schemes.

It is further mentioned in the document that, “It is proposed to amend the time period for filing of appeal against the order of the Adjudicating authority under Benami Act within a period of 45 days from the date when such order is received by the Initiating Officer or the aggrieved person. The definition of ‘High Court’ is also proposed to be modified to allow determination of jurisdiction for filing appeal in the case of non-residents.”

It is further proposed to amend Section 271C and Section 276B of the Act to provide for penalty and prosecution where default in TDS relates to transaction in kind.

"It envisions an infrastructure for the judicial system that is natively digital. It does not merely digitise paper-based processes, it transforms processes for a digital environment. Phase III will enable any litigant or lawyer to file a case from anywhere, at any time, without having to go to multiple windows in the premises of any specific court", says the executive summary of a draft document put in the public domain by the department.