Full Court Reference on 11-10-2011 (Tuesday) in honour of
Late Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao, Former President of the ITAT


"Dr Shivaram, the President of the ITAT Bar Association, Mumbai, members of the ITAT Bar Association, members of the accountancy profession, officers of the IRS and my esteemed colleagues in the Mumbai Benches of the ITAT:

It is with great sorrow that I convey to you the news of the passing on of Shri T V Rajagopala Rao, former President of the ITAT in Hyderabad on the 9th October, after a brief period in hospital. He was ailing for quite some time and was confined to his house and wheel-chair bound. Even during his tenure in the Tribunal, particularly after he became President thereof, he was not blessed with the best of health. But he went about his work undaunted by the physical ailments.

Shri Rao joined the Tribunal in the year 1980 from the Andhra Pradesh judiciary and was first posted in Delhi. Thereafter he was posted in Hyderabad and Madras before he took over as the 22nd President in the year 1994. He took over at Delhi initially and thereafter came to Bombay, in recognition of the fact that the headquarters of both the Tribunal and the President of the Tribunal is Bombay. He retired on 8-12-1999.

Shri Rao’s tenure as President of the Tribunal was eventful, in the sense that it was during his Presidentship that he resisted the move to take away the powers of the President to transfer and post the Members of the Tribunal and also successfully warded off an attempt to challenge the independence of the Tribunal in its decision-making. The Tribunal and the Bar (I am sure) are indebted to Shri Rao for this. He exhibited unprecedented courage in upholding the independence of the Tribunal on both the occasions. He is said to have filed a 90-page affidavit before the Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the transfer-posting matter, which required deep conviction in the cause and moral uprightness. He had both in abundance. We owe it to him for coming out unscathed on both the occasions. They are Shri Rao’s biggest and most important contributions to the well-being of the ITAT. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that today we recall and remember those victorious moments, and Shri Rao’s success in both the matters is due in no small measure to the ITAT Bar Association, Mumbai and to the ITAT Bar Associations of other places.

It is a pity that Shri Rao did not enjoy good health after his retirement. That, coupled with a tragedy in his family - he lost one of his sons-in-law - ensured that he never regained his health. When I called on him last December, I found him moving about in a wheel¬chair. He would lose his memory frequently during the conversation; whenever he regained it, he would become emotional and unable to control his tears. I felt so sorry to see him in that condition and could not find an answer to the question why a noble and upright soul who had done so much for the Tribunal amidst adversities should suffer like this.

Today, the most fitting homage which we, the Members of the Tribunal, can offer to late Shri Rajagopala Rao is to imbibe his simplicity and principles of right behavior and his sense of independence and uprightness.

May his soul rest in peace! Thank you."

Hon’ble Shri R. V. Easwar, President

Extracts from the speech delivered at Full Court Reference on 11-10-11
in honour of Late Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao, Former President, ITAT

"Contribution of Late Shri T. V. Rajagopala Rao to preserve the independence of this institution must be written in golden words, and he will be remembered for ever as long as this institution survives. He is one of the President till his retirement on 8-12-1999 continued to sit in Mumbai, which is the head quarter of ITAT. May God Rest his soul in peace, I Join your honour, in paying our humble tribute to the departed soul. I, on behalf of myself and all of you assembled here, convey my heartfelt condolences to the members of his family and pray god to grant eternal peace to the departed soul and strength and courage to his family to bear this great loss."

Dr. K. Shivaram, Advocate & President, ITAT Bar Association

"I had occasion to appear before Shri. Rao in Tribunal appeals and found that he was just and equitable in his treatment of the counsels and one received full and fair hearing and Judgements characterizing his sense of justice and fairness. Whether one succeeded or lost in the appeal heard by him, one had deep satisfaction of having an opportunity to present one’s case in full and fair manner. In conclusion, I may state that I am reflecting the view of the profession that he had a very successful tenure of office not only as district and session judge before being appointed as Hon’ble member of the tribunal but also during his tenure as member. Vice President and President of the Tribunal. I pray to god that His Soul may rest in peace."

CA. Arvind H. Dalal, Past President, ICAI

"He was a true Gentleman, a person of mild demeanor but at the same time firm in his views. I had the distinction of appearing before him when I was posted as Junior AR in ITAT. As a young officer initially I was quite hesitant while appearing before the Bench. But his affable quality put
us at ease. On our shortcomings he never ridiculed us and provided us the necessary encouragement."

Smt. Reena Jha Tripathi, CIT (DR)

"He was meticulous in details and when we were arguing, he would carefully take note of every word and which in turn would be reflected in his orders. Nobody could influence him in his Judgements and his approach gave a good deal of honour and dignity to the Income Tax Tribunal. He delivered very studied judgement. Justice Holmes has said that the only thing certain in life is death. Geeta also says ‘JATASYA HI DHRUVAM MRITYU’....We know all this but still we feel the demise of some one near to us and feel the grief for the passing of some one with whom we have worked."

Shri Y. P. Trivedi, Sr. Advocate & Past President, ITAT Bar Association

"I admire Mr. TVR, as he was popularly referred to, for 5 great qualities which made him an outstanding judge. He was patient. He let Counsel argue without undue interruption. As has already been pointed out, he took detailed notes of arguments advanced before him which were reflected in his judgment wherein he dealt with them. He decided on the basis of arguments advanced before him by both the sides and his judgments did not reflect chamber research which was not put to the parties in the course of the hearing. It is often one of the major regrets of Counsel that the basis on which an issue was decided against him was not put to him as, if it had been so put, he may have been able to meet it successfully. Lastly, Mr. Rajagopala Rao was always considerate specially to juniors whom he encouraged. He served as President for over 5 years and was always conscious of looking after the convenience and just requirements of the Bar and the litigant.

Mr. Rajagopala Rao was a man of courage. My good friend Mr. Shivaram, who has always been so pro-active in all matters affecting the Bar, has already referred to the way in which he stood up to the Central Government to preserve the powers of the President. It was an act of courage and independence.

Mr. Rao’s regard for propriety is shown by his approach to where the headquarters of the President should be. The headquarters of the Tribunal and of the President were in Bombay till 1987 when the then President, shifted the headquarters of the President to Delhi. Thus, the headquarters of the Tribunal were in Bombay but the head was quartered in Delhi! I understand that to continue to sit in Delhi periodic special dispensation has to be obtained from the Central Government which is one of the parties in every matter adjudicated by a member. Mr. Rajagopala Rao fortunately assumed charge in Bombay and stayed here till his retirement. He did this even though prior to becoming a President he had not, in so far as I can recollect, sat in Bombay. Unfortunately, the two Hon’ble Presidents who succeeded him did not share his view. I am hot pitching for Bombay because we are of the Bombay ITAT Bar but because, if I recollect correctly, Bombay city is said to contribute well over 30% of the tax revenue of the country."

Shri S. E. Dastur, Sr. Advocate & Past President, ITAT Bar Association

"In filing the Petition before the Supreme Court, Shri Rao acted with great courage and with a great sense of responsibility towards the Tribunal and the Members constituting it. He ensured that the authority and dignity of the Tribunal is maintained and preserved at all cost. It is from then that the Tribunal is being regarded as an integral part of the Indian judiciary and for most purposes is regarded as a "Court".

We at the Bar acknowledge the contributions of Shri Rao with great respect. His role in asserting and affirming the independence of the Tribunal as a judicial body is unmatched and unparalleled. He will be long remembered for the courage that he displayed and for the enduring benefit which he brought to the Tribunal as a judicial institution."

Shri Dinesh Vyas. Sr. Advocate & Past President, ITAT Bar Association

Note: For full text of speech, kindly refer