The Madras High Court addressed a writ petition challenging an order issued by the respondent, the Income Tax Officer (ITO), on May 25, 2023. The petitioner contested the order on the grounds that the request for an adjournment was not considered.
The petitioner had filed an appeal with the ITO to challenge the assessment order issued by the Assessing Officer. The appeal was related to the disallowance of various expenses amounting to Rs. 26,16,176/- as per the assessment order dated December 22, 2018. The petitioner submitted the appeal on January 23, 2019. However, the petitioner received a notice on May 10, 2023, under Section 250 of the Income Tax Act. This notice instructed the petitioner to electronically provide written submissions along with supporting documents for the appeal by May 17, 2023.
In response to this notice, the petitioner made an adjournment request through the e-Filing portal of the respondent’s department on May 16, 2023. In the adjournment request, the petitioner indicated that they needed 15 to 20 days to gather specific documents. However, the ITO passed the impugned order on May 25, 2023, without considering the adjournment request submitted by the petitioner.
Detailed Analysis: The crux of the matter revolved around the petitioner’s adjournment request. The respondent’s order stated that the petitioner had failed to respond to the Department’s email communication dated May 10, 2023. The petitioner, in response, presented a screenshot of the adjournment request made on May 16, 2023, through the e-Filing portal of the respondent’s department.
The key argument put forth by the learned counsel for the respondent was that multiple notices had been issued to the petitioner since 2020, and the petitioner had not responded to any of these notices. However, the learned counsel’s contention that the petitioner’s request for adjournment had not been properly brought to the notice of the respondent was not accepted.
The Madras High Court, after reviewing the screenshot submitted by the petitioner, acknowledged that the petitioner had electronically requested 15 to 20 days’ time to gather specific documents in support of the appeal. The court reasoned that when the petitioner made the request through the e-Filing portal of the Department, it was deemed to have brought the request to the notice of the respondent.
Therefore, the court concluded that the impugned order was passed without giving the petitioner the opportunity to submit the necessary documents in support of the appeal, as requested by the petitioner. As a result, the court set aside the order and remanded the matter to the respondent for fresh consideration.
The petitioner was directed to submit all the documents supporting the appeal to the respondent within one week from the date of receiving a copy of the court’s order. The respondent was instructed to issue a fresh order after considering the materials submitted by the petitioner within twelve weeks from the date of document submission.
Conclusion: In this case, the Madras High Court, upon reviewing the facts, determined that the ITO’s order was passed without considering the petitioner’s adjournment request, which was made electronically through the official portal. As a result, the court set aside the order and directed the petitioner to submit the necessary supporting documents, giving the petitioner a fair opportunity to present their case.
FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF MADRAS HIGH COURT
The writ petition is filed challenging the order passed by the respondent dated 25.05.2023, mainly on the ground that the request of the petitioner for adjournment has not been considered.
2.The petitioner herein filed an appeal before the respondent challenging the order passed by the Assessing Officer disallowing various expenses to the tune of Rs.26,16,176 /- in his assessment order dated 22.12.2018. The appeal of the petitioner was filed on 23.01.2019. It is the case of the petitioner that he received a notice on 10.05.2023 under Section 250 of Income Tax Act, directing him to furnish the written submissions along with supporting documents electronically on or before 17.05.2023 for consideration of his appeal. The petitioner made an adjournment request through e-Filing portal of the respondent Department on 16.05.2023. In his adjournment request, the petitioner had stated that he required 15 to 20 days time for submitting certain documents. The impugned order was passed on 25.05.2023, without considering the request made by the petitioner on 16.05.2023 through e-Filing portal of the respondent Department.
The impugned order passed by the respondent reads as follows;
“4. The email id email@example.com was given in the Form No.35 filed by the appellant for communication. Notices of hearing under Section 250 of the Act were issued to the appellant on this email id on 18.10.2019, 08.11.2019 and 06.01.2021 vide which the appellant was requested to furnish written submissions online. However, no reply was filed by the appellant against the said notices. Thereafter, the following email ids were found in the department’s ITBA system:-
|1.||Primary Email Id as per Latest Return filed||ajay–firstname.lastname@example.org|
|2.||Email Id as per PAN database||ARUN.DEVIKAR@SHAPOO RJI.COM|
Another notice u/s250 of the I.T. Act was then issued to the above email ids on 10.05.2023 vide which the appellant was requested to furnish written submissions online on or before 17.05.2023. However, no reply has been filed by the appellant in the appeal proceedings.”
3. In the impugned order, the respondent has stated that the petitioner had failed to respond to the E-mail communication of the Department dated 10.05.2023. The petitioner herein filed the screenshot of the adjournment request made to the respondent on 16.05.2023 through e-Filing portal of the respondent Department.
4. The learned counsel for the respondent submits that several notices were issued to the petitioner from 2020 on wards, but he failed to respond to all the notices. The learned counsel further submits that the request made by the petitioner for adjournment has not been brought to the notice of the respondent.
5. It is seen from the screenshot produced by the petitioner in Page No. 74 of the typed set of papers, he made a request to the respondent, seeking 15 to 20 days time for gathering certain documents in support of his appeal. When the petitioner made a request electronically though e-Filing portal of the Department, it is deemed his request is brought to the notice of the respondent. Therefore, the submission made by the learned counsel for the respondent that the petitioner’s request was not properly brought to the notice of the respondent cannot be accepted. Since the impugned order is passed without giving opportunity to the petitioner to produce the documents in support of his appeal as requested by him, the same is set aside. The matter is remanded back to the file of the respondent for fresh consideration by giving sufficient opportunity to the petitioner.
6. The petitioner is directed to submit all the documents in support of his appeal before the respondent within a period of one week from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. The respondent is directed to pass fresh order on consideration of the materials submitted by the petitioner within a period of twelve weeks from the date of submission of the documents by the petitioner.
7. With the above directions, the writ petition stands disposed of. No cost. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petitions are closed.