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Case Law Details

Case Name : Smt. Ritu Mittal Vs ITO (Allahabad High Court)
Appeal Number : Writ Tax No. 752 of 2021
Date of Judgement/Order : 13/02/2024
Related Assessment Year :

Smt. Ritu Mittal Vs ITO (Allahabad High Court)

In a recent judgment, the Allahabad High Court addressed a case involving Smt. Ritu Mittal challenging an order passed by the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax-2, Agra, rejecting her revision application under Section 264 of the Income Tax Act. The petitioner contended a violation of principles of natural justice due to the absence of an opportunity to be heard.

The petitioner argued that despite receiving a notice under Section 264 of the Act, she couldn’t appear on the specified date and failed to file an application for adjournment. However, no order was passed on the initial date. Subsequently, without granting another hearing opportunity, the Department rejected the revision application on a subsequent date.

The Department countered, asserting that as no application for adjournment was filed, the order was passed ex-parte. They argued that the petitioner’s absence justified the rejection. However, the Court noted discrepancies in the documentation, revealing no noting of the petitioner’s absence or any decision on the initial date.

The Court emphasized the importance of providing an opportunity to be heard before an adverse order is passed. Given the lack of a proper hearing, the Court deemed the rejection order a violation of principles of natural justice. Consequently, the order dated March 23, 2021, was quashed, directing the officer concerned to issue a notice for hearing within two months.

The Allahabad High Court’s decision underscores the significance of procedural fairness in administrative proceedings. By setting aside the order and mandating a hearing opportunity for the petitioner, the Court upholds the fundamental principles of natural justice. This judgment reaffirms the necessity of due process in adjudicating matters, ensuring fairness and equity in the application of law.

FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT

1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India wherein the writ petitioner is aggrieved by the order dated March 23, 2021 passed by the respondent 2/Principal Commissioner of Income Tax-2, Agra in a revision application filed by the petitioner under Section 264 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’).

Allahabad HC Sets Aside Order Passed Without Hearing in Income Tax Revision Application

2. The main contention of the petitioner in the present writ petition is that there has been violation of principles of natural justice as no opportunity was granted to the petitioner for presenting his reply and making his submissions in person.

3. Suyash Agarwal, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, submits that a notice was issued under Section 264 of the Act dated March 6, 2021 wherein the date was fixed for the assessee to appear on March 10, 2021. Mr. Agarwal fairly submits that the petitioner could not appear on that particular date and was also unable to file any application for adjournment. He, however, submits that the order was not passed on March 10, 2021 and another date was fixed by the Department for March 16, 2021. On March 16, 2021, there appears to be a noting on the file that indicates that the revision application of the assessee under Section 264 of the Act was rejected. The aforesaid noting is provided hereinbelow:-

“After careful consideration of of the assessee’s submission and AO’s report, order under Section 264 issued rejecting assessee’s petition.”

4. Per contra, counsel appearing on behalf of the Department submits that the petitioner did not file any application for adjournment and, therefore, the order was passed ex-parte. He further submits that no further date was required to be granted to the assessee as no application was filed by the assessee for With regard to noting of March 16, 2021, he submits that the file was looked at by the Officer on that date and order of rejection was passed.

5. It is to be noted that the material date of the order is March 23, 2021 and not March 16, 2021. Upon a perusal of the documents, it appears that though the matter was fixed for March 10, 2021 but no order was passed by the officer concerned on that date. In fact, the matter was posted for a subsequent date wherein no notice was given to the assessee. The documents reveal that on March 10, 2021 there was no noting whatsoever done by the officer In fact, it was not even noted that the petitioner did not appear on that date.

6. In my view, as the revision application was filed by the petitioner under Section 264 of the Act, the officer concerned ought to have granted a further opportunity to the petitioner to appear since the matter was not heard out and decided on that date. One need not elaborate on the virtues of hearing in person before an adverse order is passed against an In light of the same, I am of the view that the officer concerned should have granted another opportunity to the petitioner and only thereafter passed an order that was adverse to the petitioner. Not having done so, there appears to be a violation of principles of natural justice.

7. In light of the above, the order dated March 23, 2021 is quashed and set-aside with a direction given to the officer concerned to issue notice for hearing to the petitioner and hear out the matter within a period of two months from date. I make it clear that no adjournment shall be granted to the petitioner and her non participation shall entitle the officer concerned to pass an ex-parte The entire process should be completed within a period of three months from date.

8. The writ petition is, accordingly, allowed.

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