Introduction: In a significant legal development, the Kerala High Court has nullified an order passed under Section 148A(d) of the Income Tax Act, asserting that it was issued without affording the petitioner, Dinesh Dinakaran Pillai, an opportunity to be heard.
Detailed Analysis: The writ petition, filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, sought various reliefs, including the quashing of Exhibit P5 Order issued by the Respondent. The petitioner contended that before the order under Section 148A(d) was passed, he was not given an opportunity to present his case.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that the order, reflected in Ext.P5, did not indicate any hearing conducted before the decision to reopen the assessment for the Assessment Year 2016-17. On the contrary, the petitioner emphasized the absence of any opportunity for him to be heard in the proceedings leading to the said order.
On the other hand, Mr. Christopher Abraham, the learned Standing Counsel for the Revenue, expressed his lack of instructions regarding the petitioner’s opportunity of being heard before the Section 148A(d) order.
In light of the submissions, the Kerala High Court allowed the writ petition, setting aside the impugned order. The court directed the matter to be remitted back to the respondent for fresh orders in compliance with the law. Notably, the court instructed the Assessing Officer to provide notice of hearing to the petitioner.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the judgment in the case of Dinesh Dinakaran Pillai vs ITO highlights the importance of due process and the right to be heard in legal proceedings. The decision underscores the necessity for authorities to afford individuals a fair opportunity to present their case before issuing orders under Section 148A(d) of the Income Tax Act. The petitioner’s success in this writ petition serves as a reminder of the judiciary’s commitment to upholding procedural fairness in tax matters. The matter is set for the petitioner’s appearance before the Assessing Officer/respondent on 01.12.2023, where he can present his submissions in a procedurally fair environment.
FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF KERALA HIGH COURT
The present writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India has been filed seeking the following reliefs:
“i) issue a writ of certiorari or any other appropriate writ, direction or order and quash Exhibit P5 Order issued by the Respondent and all further proceedings arising therefrom; and
ii) to exempt the Petitioner from producing the English Translation of Malayalam Exhibits produced along with this Writ Petition and the Petitioner further undertakes that he is ready and willing to produce English translation of Malayalam documents as an- when required; and
(iii) to grant such other and incidental reliefs as this Hon’ble court may deem fit, just and necessary in the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case; and
(iv) to allow this writ petition (civil) with costs to the Petitioner.”
2. Learned Counsel for the petitioner submits that before the order under Section 148A(d) came to be passed, no opportunity of being heard was afforded to the petitioner. From the order impugned in Ext.P5, it is not reflected that the petitioner was being heard before the order under Section 148A(d) came to be passed for re-opening the assessment in respect of the Assessment Year 2016-17.
3. Mr Christopher Abraham learned Standing Counsel for the Revenue submitted that he did not have instructions regarding the opportunity of being heard given to the petitioner before the order under Section 148A(d) came to be passed.
4. In view thereof, the present writ petition is allowed. The impugned order is set aside. The matter is remitted back to the file of the respondent to pass fresh orders in accordance with the law after giving notice of hearing to the petitioner. The petitioner shall appear before the Assessing Officer/respondent on 01.12.2023 and make his submissions.