In the landmark case of Gopal Singh vs ITO, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) brought to light an important aspect of legal proceedings – the significant consequences of non-compliance with notices. The case focused on a disregard for the quasi-judicial authority and the need for strict compliance with procedural laws, as interpreted by the ITAT.
he case centered on the appellant’s disregard for several notices issued by the ITAT, leading to an ex-parte decision in favor of the Income Tax Officer (ITO). The appellant, Gopal Singh, failed to make an appearance despite numerous calls, leading the ITAT to proceed with an ex-parte hearing.
The appellant’s argument was based on the premise that the notice was delivered via email, a medium he, being a senior citizen, was not accustomed to using. Moreover, he claimed that he only became aware of the order when he received a penalty notice in person from the Income Tax Department.
Despite his reasons, the ITAT held that it was the appellant’s duty and legal obligation to respond to the notices issued by the authority. However, considering the principle of AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM – the right to be heard, the ITAT was lenient and allowed the matter to be restored back to the Assessing Officer (AO), albeit with a cost imposed on the appellant for his negligent attitude during the proceedings.
Conclusion The case of Gopal Singh vs ITO is a stark reminder of the seriousness with which legal authorities view non-compliance of notices and the resultant disregard for quasi-judicial authority. It underlines the importance of adhering to the procedural laws, regardless of the litigant’s personal circumstances. While the ITAT showed leniency in this case, it clearly condemned the non-compliant behavior, setting a precedent for future cases.
FULL TEXT OF THE ORDER OF ITAT JAIPUR
This appeal by the assessee is directed against the order dated 18.01.2023 of ld. CIT (A), National Faceless Appeal Centre (NFAC), Delhi passed under section 250 of the IT Act, 1961 for the assessment year 2011-12. The assessee has raised the following grounds :-
1. On the facts and in the circumstances of the case as well as on the subject, the learned Assessing Officer has erred in reopening the assessment u/s 147 by issuing notice u/s 148 and has erred in passing ex-parte order u/s 144 without giving proper opportunity of being heard.
2. On the facts and in the circumstances of the case as well as law on the subject, the learned Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) has erred passing in ex-parte order without giving proper opportunity of being hear
3. On the facts and in the circumstances of the case as well as law on the subject, the learned Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) has erred in confirming the action of assessing officer in making addition of Rs. 3,93,821/- as Long Term Capital Gain on sale of Rural Agriculture land, which is not an capital assets as per the Income Tax Act.
4. On the facts and in the circumstances of the case as well as law on the subject, the learned Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) has erred in confirming the action of assessing officer in making addition of Rs. 9,00,000/- as Undisclosed Income from Other sources.
5. The appellant craves leave to add, amend, alter vary and/or withdraw any or all the above grounds of appeal.
2. None appeared on behalf of the assessee on repeated calls and even no application for seeking adjournment has been filed. On the other hand, the ld. D/R present in the Court is ready to argue the case. Therefore, we have decided to proceed with the hearing of the case ex-parte.
3. From the record we find that there is a delay of 33 days in filing the present appeal and in this regard an application for seeking condonation of delay has been filed by the assessee wherein it has been specifically alleged that the impugned order passed by the ld. CIT (A) was sent through e-mail. However, the assessee being 71 years old person, does not use e-mail and the fact regarding passing of the impugned order by ld. CIT (A) had come to the notice and knowledge of the assessee when he received a notice of penalty in person from the Income Tax Department. Therefore, after receiving the said notice, the assessee contacted his Consultant/Chartered Accountant, who in turn advised to file the present appeal and thus in this way it was mentioned in the application that genuinely, the assessee had no knowledge about the passing of the impugned order of ld. CIT (A). Considering the reasons mentioned in the said application accompanied by an Affidavit of the assessee, we feel that the reasons mentioned in the application constitute sufficient cause for not filing the appeal within the time before us. Moreover, no counter affidavit has been filed by the revenue. Therefore, taking a lenient view and considering the principles laid down in the case of Collector, Land Acquisition vs. Mst. Katiji, 1987 AIR 1353 (SC), we condone the delay in filing the appeal before us.
4. Now coming to the merits of the grounds of appeal raised before us, on perusal of the case file, we noticed that during the appellate proceedings before ld. CIT (A), assessee had neither responded to the notices issued to him nor submitted anything in support of the grounds raised, therefore, in the absence of written arguments or written submissions, the ld. CIT (A) while sustaining the order of the AO, dismissed the appeal filed by the assessee ex-parte. The assessment order was also passed ex-parte in absence of assessee. From the entire sequence of events and the conduct of the assessee in non compliance of the repeated notices issued by the ld. CIT (A) as mentioned in para 5.1 of his order, it appears gross negligence on the part of the assessee and wastage of precious judicial time. In our considered view, non compliance of notices issued by the Authorities is dis-regard towards the Authorities. Although in our view, it was a bounden duty and legal obligation of the assessee to respond to the various opportunities given by the ld. CIT (A) by way of several notices issued to the assessee, non compliance of the notices amounts to disregard of quasi-judicial authority. Thus we deprecate the conduct of the assessee. At the same time, considering the principles of AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM, the basic rule of law, and to give another opportunity to the assessee, we are inclined to restore the matter to the file of the AO to decide afresh, subject to cost of Rs. 2,000/- on the assessee for negligent attitude during income tax proceedings, to be deposited in the Prime Minister’s Care Fund within 30 days from today and proof thereof should be produced.
5. Before parting, we may make it clear that our decision to restore the matter back to the file of the A.O. shall in no way be construed as having any reflection or expression on the merits of the dispute, which shall be adjudicated by A.O. independently in accordance with law.
6. In the result, this appeal of the assessee is allowed for statistical purposes..
Order pronounced in the open court on 15/06/2023.