The Finance Minister,
Government of India
Need to further extend various time limits under Income Tax in view of the challenges faced by taxpayers in meeting the statutory and regulatory compliance requirements across sectors due to the outbreak of Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19).
In order to provide relief to the taxpayers for making various compliances, the Government had issued a Notification on 24th June, 2020 wherein the date of filing Income Tax Returns was extended to 30th November, 2020 & the date for making investment/construction/purchase for claiming roll over benefit/deduction in respect of capital gains under sections 54 to 54GB of the IT Act had also been extended to 30th September, 2020 thereby allowing the investment/ construction/ purchase made up to 30th September, 2020 to be eligible for claiming deduction from capital gains. Similarly, the date for commencement of operation for the SEZ units for claiming deduction under section 10AA of the IT Act had also been further extended to 30th September, 2020 for the units which received necessary approval by 31st March, 2020.
It is a matter of common knowledge that due lack of mobility on account of Covid-19 pandemic & unavailability of migratory labour, the construction activity & the real estate sector has been badly affected and neither the individual assessees availing benefit under sections 54 to 54GB are in a position to purchase or construct their house. Moreover, the assessees who are Senior Citizens, as per the advisory issued by MHA are not allowed to move out. Thus it is not possible for them to avail the benefit of these benevolent sections. They would be deprived of the benefits for no fault of theirs. Similarly, for identical reasons the commencement of operation for the SEZ units for claiming deduction under section 10AA of the IT Act cannot be availed as the extended period till 30 September is approaching fast.
That the established Doctrine of ‘Impossibility’ -Lex non cogit ad impossibilia is attracted in the instant case. The Apex Court & various High Courts have held that “Lex non cogit impossibila (law does not compel a man to do that which he cannot possibly perform) and impossibilum nulla oblignto est (law does not expect a party to do the impossible)” would squarely apply to the present case & circumstances. The Supreme Court in the case of State of MP Vs. Narmada Bachao Andolan [(2011) 7 SCC 639], applied this maxim and held that where the law creates a duty or a charge and the party is disabled to perform it without any fault on his part and has no control over it, the law will in general excuse him. The principles embodied in the legal maxims ‘lex non cogit ad impossibilia’ and ‘impotentia excusat legem’ could come to the rescue in such situations and law will generally excuse a default if a party is unable to perform a duty created by law without any default in him and where he has no remedy (impotentia excusat legem).
That the duty imposed is either impossible of performance and beyond the normal capacity of a reasonable or prudent man, or when performance in the strictest language of the enactment is either idle or impossible, then the enactment must be understood as dispensing with the strict performance of that duty. The above legal maxims can be used in the present circumstances as the obligation cast by law has indeed made performance of such duty or obligation impossible due to Covid-19 pandemic.
That in the aforesaid circumstances the extension of the aforesaid time limit for the performance stipulated for making investment/ construction/ purchase for claiming roll over benefit/ deduction in respect of capital gains under sections 54 to 54GB of the IT Act and the date for commencement of operation for the SEZ units for claiming deduction under section 10AA of the IT Act for commencement of operation for the SEZ units for claiming deduction under section 10AA of the IT Act be extended till 31 March 2021. The same would serve the ends of Justice.