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Case Law Details

Case Name : Ashley Cherian Vs Additional/Joint/Deputy/ACIT/ITO (Kerala High Court)
Appeal Number : WA No. 287 of 2024
Date of Judgement/Order : 05/03/2024
Related Assessment Year :

Ashley Cherian Vs Additional/Joint/Deputy/ACIT/ITO (Kerala High Court)

Introduction: Ashley Cherian, an assessee under the Income Tax Act, filed a writ petition challenging assessment and penalty orders under section 271AAC. Holding agricultural properties in Idukki District, Cherian declared a ‘nil’ income for the assessment year 2020-2021. However, the case was scrutinized under CASS, leading to the issuance of notices under Sections 143 and 142(1) of the Act. Subsequently, assessment and penalty orders demanding significant sums were passed against Cherian, prompting the filing of writ petitions (WP(C) No. 2136/2023 and WP(C) No.18139/2023) in the Kerala High Court.

Detailed Analysis: The Kerala High Court, upon reviewing the assessment and penalty orders, observed that they were issued in compliance with all statutory formalities. Despite ample opportunities provided to Cherian to present necessary documents supporting his contentions, he failed to produce them. Notably, both orders were deemed appealable under the law.

The court emphasized that disputed factual matters cannot be resolved via writ petitions, urging Cherian to pursue the statutory remedy of appeal instead. By resorting directly to the writ court without exhausting the appellate process, Cherian circumvented the prescribed legal route.

Given the failure to produce essential documents and the availability of appellate recourse, the Kerala High Court found no merit in Cherian’s writ petitions and consequently dismissed them.

Conclusion: The Kerala High Court’s decision underscores the importance of adhering to procedural requirements and exhausting available legal remedies. Cherian’s case highlights the necessity of presenting adequate documentation and resorting to the appellate process for resolving disputed tax matters. The dismissal of the writ petitions reaffirms the principle that writ jurisdiction should not be invoked as a substitute for the statutory appellate mechanism.

FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF KERALA HIGH COURT

The appellant is an assessee under the provisions of the Income Tax Act. He is holding agricultural properties at Pampadumpara in Idukki District. He filed return of income for the assessment year 2020-2021 declaring total income as ‘nil’. The case was selected for scrutiny under CASS, and the appellant was issued notices under Sections 143 and 142(1) of the Income Tax Act. Thereafter, assessment order dated 13/9/2022 (produced as Ext.P20 in WP(C) No.2136/2023) demanding Rs.1,10,86,107/- and penalty order (produced as Ext.P5 in WP(C) No.18139/2023) under Section 271AAC(1) dated 23/3/2023 imposing a penalty of Rs.7,91,113/- were passed. The appellant challenged the assessment order in WP(C) No. 2136/2023 and the penalty order in WP(C) No.18139/2023. The learned Single Judge dismissed the writ petitions, relegating the appellant to the statutory remedy of appeal.

2. We have heard Sri. Harisankar V. Menon, the learned counsel for the appellant and Sri. Jose Joseph, the learned Standing Counsel appearing for the respondent.

A perusal of the assessment order as well as the penalty order would show that those orders were passed after complying with all the statutory formalities. Even though the appellant has been given sufficient opportunity to produce the documents to prove his contentions, he failed to produce the necessary documents. Both the orders are appealable. The disputed question of fact cannot be adjudicated in the writ petition. Instead of availing the appellate remedy, the appellant rushed to the writ court. We find no merit in the appeals. Accordingly, they are dismissed.

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