Introduction: The Calcutta High Court recently delivered a significant judgment in the case of Girdhar Gopal Dalmia vs. Union of India & Ors., addressing the petitioner’s challenge to a notice issued under Section 148A(b) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. The petitioner contested the timeline for response and the lack of an opportunity for a hearing in the notice dated 17th March, 2022.
Detailed Analysis: The petitioner argued that the notice, pertaining to the assessment year 2018-19, did not comply with Section 148A(b) as it provided six days instead of the mandated seven days for response. Additionally, the petitioner claimed a lack of opportunity for a hearing as required by the Act. The respondent Assessing Officer responded, citing that the notice was served via e-mail, ensuring timely receipt.
The High Court, upon thorough analysis, upheld the Assessing Officer’s decision, emphasizing that the date of e-mail receipt validated the seven-day response window. The court also clarified that the rejection of the petitioner’s objection to the 148A notice did not signify the finalization of a reassessment order or the raising of a demand.
Furthermore, the court highlighted that the petitioner would have ample opportunity during the reassessment proceedings to present their case and seek a drop of proceedings under Section 148 of the Act. Stressing that the case did not involve a violation of natural justice principles, the court concluded that the rejection order’s merits were beyond the scope of review.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the Calcutta High Court dismissed the writ petition (WPA No.7034 of 2022), affirming the validity of the notice and rejecting the petitioner’s objections. The ruling underscores the distinction between objection rejection and the finalization of reassessment orders, providing clarity on the petitioner’s future opportunities to present their case during reassessment proceedings.
FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF CALCUTTA HIGH COURT
Heard learned advocates appearing for the parties.
In this matter, petitioner has challenged the impugned notice dated 17th March, 2022 issued under Section 148A(b) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 relating to the assessment year 2018-19 by which petitioner was asked to give response to the same on or before 23rd March, 2022, the ground that in view of Section 148A(b) of the Act, seven days time should have been given in the notice for responding the same, while according to the petitioner, in this case, six days time has been given and petitioner further challenges the impugned notice on the ground that no opportunity of hearing was given as per the aforesaid provisions. It appears from record that the petitioner responded to the aforesaid impugned notice dated 17th March, 2022 by giving a detailed reply to the same which appears at page 56 of the writ petition. It appears from the writ petition that the respondent Assessing Officer concerned has considered the reply to the impugned show- cause notice by passing an elaborate order on 29th March, 2022 which appears at page 72 being Annexure P-8 to the writ petition.
Learned advocate appearing for the respondents submits that since the impugned notice was served through e-mail, so, on the date of e-mail, petitioner has already received the impugned notice and if that date is taken into account, then time to give reply by 23rd March if considered comes to seven days. Apart from these facts on going through the reasoning recorded in the order of rejection of the petitioner’s objection to the notice under Section 148A(b) of the Act, I am of the view that the order under Section 148A(d) of the Act dated 29th March, 2022 does not deserve any interference. Furthermore, rejection of the petitioner’s objection to 148A notice does not mean that any final re-assessment order has been passed and demand has been raised. Petitioner will have ample opportunity during the reassessment proceedings to establish his case and to make out a case for dropping of proceeding under Section 148 of the Act. This case also cannot be called a case of violation of principles of natural justice, so far as merit discussed in the rejection order cannot be gone into by this writ court.
With this observation and finding, this writ petition being WPA No.7034 of 2022 is dismissed.