The principles of natural justice are based on the following rules:

1. Rule Against Bias — No one should be a judge in his own cause.

2. Justice should not only be done, but manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.

3. The Rule Of Fair Hearing – Hear the Other Side

4. No one should be condemned unheard i.e there must be fairness on the part of the deciding authority.

Also Read: Faceless Assessment-A step way forward or Way Backward- Part I

Consequences of Breach of Natural Justice:

Where the authority is required to observe the principle of natural justice in passing order but fails to do such, the general judicial opinion is that the order is void. Where the reasons for arriving at a particular decision are not communicated to the concerned person, the order is quashed and the authority is directed to examine the matters afresh.

The authority arriving at a particular decision must apply his mind. Application of mind must be apparent from the order.

The opportunity of being should be real and reasonable. Just a paper opportunity for the name sake, like time given for just one day to furnish reply, is a denial of opportunity.

It shall be obligatory on the part of the judicial or quasi-judicial authority to pass a reasoned order otherwise such would become a tool for harassment. If there is a power to decide and determine to the prejudice of a person, duty to act judicially is implicit in the exercise of such power. If the tails of the justice be ignored and an order to the prejudice of a person is made, the order is a nullity.

Without going deep into the legalities and issues of Faceless Assessment, some of the Rulings of Honorable Courts are listed below:  

1. RKKR FOUNDATION vs NFAC (earlier NeAc), DELHI HC W.P. 5277 OF 2021

The time given to the petitioner to show cause was virtually of three days only – Principle of natural justice.

HELD THAT:-

1. As enquired from the counsel for the respondents once the respondents have introduced the scheme of faceless assessment through the respondent no. 1 National Faceless Assessment Centre at Delhi, how can the respondents object to the jurisdiction of this Court being invoked, irrespective of the locate/situate of the assessee.

2. RENEW POWER PVT LTD Vs NeAC, DELHI HC W.P 5235 OF 2021

Order passed before the time prescribed for filing the reply – Validity of assessment.

HELD THAT:-

1. Since Revenue, seeks an accommodation to revert with instructions, list the matter on 19.05.2021.

2. In the meanwhile, there shall be a stay on the operation of the impugned assessment order dated 22.04.2021, as well as the notice of demand issued under Section 156 and the notice initiating penalty proceedings under Section 270A of the Act.

3. This order will operate till further orders of the court.

4. EKAMBARAM SUKUMARAN VERSUS THE INCOME TAX OFFICER, MADRAS HC W.P. 10433 OF 2021

Order passed before the time prescribed for filing the reply – Validity of assessment.

HELD THAT:-

1. In conclusion, the petitioner was called upon to submit his response by 23:59 hours of 23.03.2021.

2. However, even prior to the elapse of time granted, the impugned order of assessment has come to be passed on the same day, i.e., 23.03.2021, one assumes during the working hours.

3. The impugned order is thus set aside.

5. SMT. KANAGAVALLI VERSUS ASSISTANT COMMERCIAL OF INCOME TAX, MADRAS HC W.P. 728 OF 2020

Show cause notice has been issued on 11.12.2019 listing the matter for personal hearing on 16.12.2019. However, the same has been served only subsequent to the time of personal hearing and there has been no opportunity of hearing extended to the petitioner.

HELD THAT:-

1. The benefit of doubt, in the above circumstances, should be extended to the petitioner.

2. It is also admitted that the show cause notice has been received by the petitioner on the date of hearing and beyond the time of hearing.

3. The impugned order is also passed on the same date of hearing proposed in the show cause notice, i.e., 16.12.2019.

4. The impugned order is set aside.

6. ALCATEL-LUCENT INDIA LIMITED VERSUS NATIONAL E-ASSESSMENT CENTRE & ANR, DELHI HC W.P 4981 OF 2021

Final assessment order passed erroneously, even while the title of the order reads as “Draft Assessment Order u/s 143(3) r.w.s. 144C.

HELD THAT:-

1. Assessing Officer was perhaps required to pass, in the first instance, an order under Section 144 C (1) of the Act, which would have enabled the petitioner to file, if so aggrieved, its objections with the Dispute Resolution Panel.

7. SMT. G. ZAINAB BANU VERSUS THE ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX, NON CORPORATE WARD, CIRCLE – 3, MADURAI, MADRAS HC W.P. 8036 OF 2021

Petitioner state that no opportunity was given either to her son or the petitioner, to inspect the records and take copies of the documents, by considering the representation of the petitioner’s son dated 06.11.2019 and therefore, an opportunity should have been given to the petitioner to inspect the documents.

HELD THAT:-

1. In view of the same, the respondent is directed to dispose of the representation of the petitioner’s son, dated 06.11.2019, on merits and in accordance with law, by affording an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner, within a period of six weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

The main objective should be the protection and follow the path of principles of natural justice and to harmoniously construe the right to hear in a constructive manner and not just for the name sake. The right of being heard and a fair procedure is in the interests what the justice demands. Therefore, all statutes, laws, acts, provisions must be applied and interpreted so as to be in sync with the principles of natural justice.

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Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for information purposes only and do not constitute an advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc before acting on the basis of the above write up.  The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that Author / TaxGuru is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof. This is not any kind of advertisement or solicitation of work by a professional.

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