In Pr. CIT vs. Parle Bisleri Ltd. [Notice Of Motion (L) No. 1672 Of 2017 in Income Tax Appeal No. 448 Of 2014, decided on 28.08.2017], briefly, there was a Notice of Motion seeking condonation of delay of 1128 days in challenging an order dated 1st November, 2014 of the Prothonotary and Senior Master. The further relief sought was to set aside this order and direct restoration of the above Appeal to the file of the Bombay High Court.
The Revenue brought an Appeal to Bombay High Court being Income Tax Appeal (L) No. 448 of 2014 to challenge an order of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, “J” Bench, Mumbai, dated 20.09.2013, for the assessment year 1998- 1999. This Appeal was lodged in the Court on 14.02.2014. On the date of its lodging, the same was listed before the Registry official. The Registry official checked the memorandum of Appeal and the annexures, and on 1.04.2014, recorded in writing the defects and deficiencies which need to be removed before the Appeal could be registered.
On 1.04.2014, the objections were endorsed on the memorandum itself. It is common ground that the Registry granted enough time to the official and the Advocate, who lodged this Appeal, to remove these office objections.
Thus, the Appeal, on its lodging on 14.02.2014, was listed for notifying the defects on 1.04.2014. They were notified on that date and an opportunity was given to remove these deficiencies and defects, else, the Appeal was to stand dismissed. It thus stood dismissed on 19.06.2014. However, on an application made by the Revenue’s Advocate/appellant in this Appeal, the Registry recalled its earlier order and restored the matter to the file. Thereupon, the Registry gave time till 24.11.2014 to remove the office objections. Both these orders were duly referred in paragraph 2 of the affidavit¬in-support of the present Motion seeking condonation of delay. They were exhibited as “A” and “B”. Since the later order of 1.11.2014 was also not complied with within time specified, namely, 24.11.2014, with effect from that date the Appeal stood dismissed.
The cause and stated to be sufficient was set out in paragraph 3 of the affidavit-in- support. It only stated that the Revenue/ Department was not aware of the objections and only when the connected Appeals being Appeal No. 1765 of 2014 and Appeal No. 978 of 2014 were listed before the Court for admission that the Revenue/ Department officer discovered that the Appeal for the assessment year 1998- 99 stood dismissed as above.
The learned Judges of the Bombay High Court found that the explanation or reason given in paragraph 3 of the affidavit given to be patently false. If paragraph 3 and paragraph 4 of the affidavit-in-support could not be reconciled, then, it was obvious that though aware of the conditional orders after lodging of the subject Appeal, the Revenue’s Advocate and the Revenue officials did not take the requisite steps. They cannot now come out with such a version for seeking restoration of a dismissed Appeal. The cause shown was, therefore, not sufficient and lacked in bona fides. It was a case of gross negligence and utter callousness on the part of the Revenue/Department. The learned Judges held that in two similar Motions, we had deprecated the tendency of the Revenue to either blame it’s Advocate or the procedural rules for the dismissal of their Appeals.
The Appeals were dismissed for non-removal of office objections.
It was observed by Bombay High Court that this Court and it’s Registry derives no pleasure in dismissing the Appeals without adjudication on merits. There is a certain sanctity attached to the procedural rules. Unless and until they are complied with, no matter can be said to be ready for admission or final hearing. If the Revenue and it’s officials are aware of lodging and filing of an Appeal, then, they must attend along with their Advocate, the Registry’s office and take the requisite steps. Their abject failure rightly results in dismissal of their Appeals. Even in the present case, more than one opportunity was granted to remove the office objections. This Court, on its judicial side cannot routinely set aside the orders of the Registry. The procedural rules cannot be set at naught or rendered redundant merely because the Government or Revenue is the litigant. The office objections being not removed within the time specified, all consequences under the rules follow. Pertinently, neither the procedural rules, nor the power of the Prothonotary and Senior Master to dismiss the Appeal as above or refuse it’s registration were challenged, hence the Notice of Motion was dismissed.