Section 255 of the Income Tax Act: Procedure of Appellate Tribunal

(1) The powers and functions of the Appellate Tribunal may be exercised and discharged by Benches constituted by the President of the Appellate Tribunal from among the members thereof.

(2) Subject to the provisions contained in sub-section (3), a Bench shall consist of one judicial member and one accountant member.

(3) The President or any other member of the Appellate Tribunal authorised in this behalf by the Central Government may, sitting singly, dispose of any case which has been allotted to the Bench of which he is a member and which pertains to an assessee whose total income as computed by the Assessing Officer in the case does not exceed fifty lakh rupees, and the President may, for the disposal of any particular case, constitute a Special Bench consisting of three or more members, one of whom shall necessarily be a judicial member and one an accountant member.

(4) If the members of a Bench differ in opinion on any point, the point shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority, if there is a majority, but if the members are equally divided, they shall state the point or points on which they differ, and the case shall be referred by the President of the Appellate Tribunal for hearing on such point or points by one or more of the other members of the Appellate Tribunal, and such point or points shall be decided according to the opinion of the majority of the members of the Appellate Tribunal who have heard the case, including those who first heard it.

(5) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Appellate Tribunal shall have power to regulate its own procedure and the procedure of Benches thereof in all matters arising out of the exercise of its powers or of the discharge of its functions, including the places at which the Benches shall hold their sittings.

(6) The Appellate Tribunal shall, for the purpose of discharging its functions, have all the powers which are vested in the income-tax authorities referred to in section 131, and any proceeding before the Appellate Tribunal shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 and for the purpose of section 196 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860), and the Appellate Tribunal shall be deemed to be a civil court for all the purposes of section 195 and Chapter XXXV of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (5 of 1898).

(7) The Central Government may make a scheme, by notification in the Official Gazette, for the purposes of disposal of appeals by the Appellate Tribunal so as to impart greater efficiency, transparency and accountability by—

(a) eliminating the interface between the Appellate Tribunal and parties to the appeal in the course of appellate proceedings to the extent technologically feasible;

(b) optimising utilisation of the resources through economies of scale and functional specialisation;

(c) introducing an appellate system with dynamic jurisdiction.

(8) The Central Government may, for the purposes of giving effect to the scheme made under sub-section (7), by notification in the Official Gazette, direct that any of the provisions of this Act shall not apply to such scheme or shall apply with such exceptions, modifications and adaptations as may be specified in the said notification:

Provided that no such direction shall be issued after the 31st day of March, 2023.

(9) Every notification issued under sub-section (7) and sub-section (8) shall, as soon as may be after the notification is issued, be laid before each House of Parliament.