1. The respondents are restrained from continuing with the reassessment proceedings, in any manner, pursuant to the impugned notices.
2. No adjournment shall be granted on the next date of hearing.
FULL TEXT OF THE HIGH COURT ORDER /JUDGEMENT
On 13th July, 2021, this Court in similar writ petitions being W.P.(C) Nos.6442/2021, 6443/2021 and 6451/2021 had issued notices and granted stay of the impugned notices. The relevant portion of the order passed in W.P.(C) Nos.6442/2021, 6443/021 and 6451/2021 is reproduced hereinbelow:-
“……….. Learned counsel for the petitioners states that the impugned notices are invalid in the eyes of law and void from inception as they were issued without following the process of issuance of prior notice under section 148A of the Act. He submits that the impugned notices are invalid as they have been issued under the pre-amended provisions of the Act, which were no longer in force on the date of the impugned notices. He emphasises that the amendments are applicable to all the notices issued under Section 148 of the Act post 01st April, 2021.
Learned counsel for the petitioners states that the impugned notifications issued by the Respondent-2 are ultra vires the Act insofar as they contain the ‘explanation’ clarifying that the pre-amended Sections 148, 149 and 151 of the Act shall govern the issue of notice under Section 148 post 01 st April, 2021. According to him, Section 3(1) of the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act, 2020 authorizes the Central Government to only extend the time limits and nothing more.
He further states that the respondents cannot indirectly extend the operation of the old provisions of the Act beyond 31st March, 2021 in the guise of a clarification under delegated legislation.
He also relies upon interim stay orders passed by the Bombay High Court as well as by the learned predecessor Division Bench of this Court in Mon Mohan Kohli vs. Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax & Anr., W.P. (C) 6176/2021 dated 07th July, 2021.
Issue Notice. Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Advocate, Mr. Ajit Sharma, Advocate and Mr. Kunal Sharma, Advocate accept notice on behalf of the respondents in W.P.(C) Nos.6442/2021, 6443/2021 and 6451/2021 respectively.
Learned counsel for the respondents state that in the present cases, the time limit for issuing the notices under Section 148 of the Act stood expired and, therefore, any action under Section 148 would have been time barred by virtue of the proviso to Section 149(1) of the Act. They submit that by virtue of introduction of Section 3(1) of the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Act, 2020, the time limit for taking action under Section 148 has been extended till 30th June, 2021. Consequently, according to them, the impugned notifications only provide that as the time limit for issuing notice under Section 148A of the Act has been extended by deemed fiction, the procedure to be followed till 30th June, 2021 would be the old procedure mentioned under the Act. In support of their submission, they also rely upon Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897.
Having heard learned counsel for the parties, this Court is of the prima facie view that the impugned notification is contrary to settled principle of statutory interpretation, namely, that any action taken post the amendment of a procedural section would have to abide by the new procedures stipulated in the amended Act.
Further, this Court is of the prima facie view that by virtue of a notification, which is a delegated legislation, the date for implementation of statutory provision, as stipulated in the Act, cannot be varied or changed.
This Court is also of the prima facie opinion that Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 offers no assistance to the respondents as the new Section 148A demonstrates an intent ‘to destroy’ the old procedure.
Consequently, following the interim orders passed by the learned predecessor Division Bench in Mon Mohan Kohli vs. Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax & Anr., W.P. (C) 6176/2021 dated 07th July, 2021 as well as similar interim order passed by the Bombay High Court, this Court directs that there shall be a stay of the operation of the impugned notices dated 09th June, 2021, 30th June, 2020 and 28th June, 2020 passed in W.P. (C) 6442/2021, 6443/2021 and 6451/2021 respectively.
Let counter-affidavits be filed within three weeks. Rejoinder Affidavits, if any, be filed before the next date of hearing.
List on 28th September, 2021.”
2. Consequently, issue notice. Notice is accepted by the counsel for the respondents as mentioned hereinabove. They pray for and are permitted to file their counter-affidavits within three weeks. Rejoinder affidavits, if any, be filed before the next date of hearing.
3. Till further orders, the respondents are restrained from continuing with the reassessment proceedings, in any manner, pursuant to the impugned notices.
4. List along with WP(C) No. 6442/2021 on 28th September, 2021.
5. Kavita Jha, Advocate and Mr.Sunil Agarwal, Advocate are directed to file their short written submissions on behalf of the petitioner(s) and respondent(s) respectively not exceeding five pages each within four weeks along with the judgments that they wish to rely upon.
6. It is made clear that no adjournment shall be granted on the next date of hearing.
7. The order be uploaded on the website forthwith. Copy of the order be also forwarded to the learned counsel through e-mail.