An appeal is generally filed with ITAT in either Form 36 / 36A. However the forms by themselves are not self-sufficient to file an appeal. The appeal to be filed with ITAT should also be accompanied by GoA and SoF.
GoA - Introduction & Significance of GoA in an appeal to ITAT
GoA is an abbreviation of the term Grounds of Appeal. In other words, this is the reasoning or the basis upon which either of the party feels aggrieved and would like to file an appeal.
The significance of GoA in an appeal is paramount. GoA lays the very foundation stone for filing an appeal. This also means that you should have strong, valid reasons for filing an appeal and should include the same in the GoA instead of venting out mere personal emotions and perceptions.
Quick-tips for preparing GoA
• Ensure you cover all the relevant grounds for filing an appeal. (Remember the ITAT is the last appellate authority for determination of facts and missing out any single argument or including any irrelevant ground could cost you considerably).
• GoA should be precise, crisp and cover all aspects but the same should not be too lengthy or feel like tell-a-tale story.
• Use simple and fluent language. Do not try to show-off your flair with the language.
• Ensure to use proper legal jargons, acronyms and salutations such as Bona fide, ‘Impunged and bad in law’, Hon’ble and Ld. Remember your appeal is your voice to convince the ITAT that you need justice. Not all appeals will be permitted by ITAT and hence draft your GoA extremely carefully.
• Do not leave any scope for multiple interpretations for any of the grounds of appeal. Read the appeal twice, thrice and if need be, indulge in expert consultation as well. Seeking help will never hurt.
• If you have appointed an Authorized Representative do read the Grounds of Appeal and insist on understanding the same before you sign and verify your appeal to ITAT.
• You can write the GoA in the form of a question but ensure that you do not indulge in rhetorical questions or sarcastic comments.
• You can include citation of relevant case-laws but ensure that neither do you rely on an irrelevant case-law nor should you over-exaggerate the facts of the precedent in the GoA.
• Ensure that the grounds are arranged in a proper order to enable smooth flow of thoughts and maintain a logical sequence. Example: Put all the grounds for the same addition together and then take up the next issue which is being appealed against. The GoA should not feel like reading abrupt parts of different appeals.
• Lastly, please re-ensure that the Grounds of Appeal are authentic and valid.
SOF - Introduction & Significance of SoF in an appeal to ITAT
SoF is an abbreviation of Statement of Facts. In other words, this is the very story of the entire case law from the very inception till date. The bench (collection of person judging the caselaw) will never have ample of time to re-visit the case from the inception to know about the facts, stands taken by both parties and the details available on records. Hence we also file a SoF alongwith the appeal in Form 36 / 36A to present a comprehensive but crisp detail of all the major facts relevant to the case till date.
The significance of SoF in an appeal is too high to ignore. SoF gives an account of all important facts till date and hence if you miss out something (in your favor) it may impact the case adversely for obvious reasons. Further if you miss out some adverse fact to frame the case-law in your favor, then again it is an unfair game as subsequent discovery of the facts hidden away would put down the jury in a negative frame-set and disrupt your credibility. Hence it is always advisable to lay down all the facts “Bare” without any manipulation of the same.
Quick-tips for preparing SoF
• Include all the facts of the case so far in the SoF.
• Ensure that the SoF is comprehensive but crisp. Refrain from providing irrelevant or excess of data
• SoF should ideally be written in third-person as it is an account of events already undertaken.
• Again the ground rule about language – Keep it simple, fluent and free from multiple interpretations.
• Do cite relevant case-laws and precedent(alongwith relevant details about the case-law)
• Do not over-explain or elaborate in excess the facts of the case-laws, precedents and how the same are relevant to the current case.
• Try to cite all possible case-laws in favor of the assessee in the paper-book and only one (preferably the latest as per time and the one that was passed by your applicable jurisdiction) in the SoF.
• Remember to give cross-reference(s) to the relevant case-laws in the paper-book. Also give a cross-reference to similar cases if you are using multiple case-laws to support the same argument.
• If you are an assessee, ensure you understand what your consultant has reproduced in the SoF before you verify the same.
PS: Paper-book is a compilation of all the relevant case-laws cited in the GoA/SoF along with all other relevant and additional (where permitted by ITAT) evidences and documents to be submitted to the ITAT.
With all the above information, tips and ideas, I hope you can now prepare more effective and favorable appeal. Happy Reading!!
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