Case Law Details

Case Name : State Bank of India Vs ITO (ITAT Bangalore)
Appeal Number : ITA No.1641/Bang/2019
Date of Judgement/Order : 22/03/2021
Related Assessment Year : 2013-14

State Bank of India Vs ITO TDS (ITAT Bangalore)

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Collector, Land Acquisition Vs. Mst. Katiji&Ors. 167 ITR 471 has expressed the view that expression “sufficient cause” employed by legislature is adequately elastic to enable the courts to apply the law in a meaningful manner which subserves the ends of justice, for that is the life purpose for the existence of institution of courts. Hence the reasons furnished by the assessee should be considered from the point of view of a reasonable person. The assessee herein is one of the branches of M/ State Bank of Travancore, which has since been merged with M/s State Bank of India. It is stated that there was shortage of staff and domain expertise in taxation. On examination of the reasons furnished by the assessee in a liberal manner, in our view, the reasons given by the assessee for the delay in filing the appeal before Ld. CIT(A) shall constitute “sufficient cause”. On merits, we notice that the assessee gets support from the decision rendered by the jurisdictional High Court on the issues urged on merits. Hence, in the interest of substantial justice, we are of the view that the Ld. CIT(A) should have condoned the delay. Accordingly, we condone the delay of 161 days in filing appeal before Ld. CIT(A). Since the first appellate authority has not disposed the appeal on merits, we restore the issues urged on merits to his file for adjudicating it afresh.

FULL TEXT OF THE ITAT JUDGEMENT

The assessee has filed this appeal challenging the order dated 25.2.2019 passed by Ld. CIT(A)-6, Bengaluru and it relates to the assessment year 2013-14.

2. None appeared on behalf of the assessee. However, a petition has been sent by e-mail by the assessee seeking adjournment. However, we proceed to dispose of the appeal ex-parte, without the presence of the assessee.

3. We heard Ld. D.R. and perused the record. The issue contested in this appeal relates to fee levied u/s 234E of the Act for assessment year 2013-14. We notice that there was a delay of 161 days in filing appeal before Ld. CIT(A) and hence, the Ld. CIT(A) has dismissed the appeal without admitting the same observing that the reasons given by the assessee for the delay is not sufficient.

4. We notice that the assessee has stated that the delay has occurred in filing appeal before Ld. CIT(A) due to acute shortage of manpower and lack of guidance/expertise. It was also submitted that the assessee is a public sector bank and hence, there was no intention to commit default in complying with any of the statutory provisions. As observed earlier, the above said reasons were not convincing to Ld CIT(A).

5. We heard Ld. D.R. on this preliminary issue, who supported the order passed by Ld. CIT(A). She further submitted that the assessee company, being a public sector bank, is supported by professionals and hence the reason cited by the assessee for the delay in filing appeal before Ld. CIT(A) was not sufficient cause for the delay.

6. We notice that the Ld. CIT(A) has dismissed the appeal on not being satisfied with the explanations furnished by the assessee. It was stated that the assessee was facing acute shortage of manpower and guidance/expertise was also lacking and hence, there was a delay in filing the appeal. We also notice that the assessee has placed reliance on the decision rendered by Hon’ble Karnataka High Court in the case of Fatehraj Singhvi & Ors. Vs. UOI 289 CTR 602, according to which the levy of fee u/s 234E of the Act was not correct for assessment years 2015-16 and earlier years. The present case relates to assessment year 2013-14 and hence, the above said decision should be applicable to the assessee.

7. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Collector, Land Acquisition Vs. Mst. Katiji&Ors. 167 ITR 471 has expressed the view that expression “sufficient cause” employed by legislature is adequately elastic to enable the courts to apply the law in a meaningful manner which subserves the ends of justice, for that is the life purpose for the existence of institution of courts. Hence the reasons furnished by the assessee should be considered from the point of view of a reasonable person. The assessee herein is one of the branches of M/ State Bank of Travancore, which has since been merged with M/s State Bank of India. It is stated that there was shortage of staff and domain expertise in taxation. On examination of the reasons furnished by the assessee in a liberal manner, in our view, the reasons given by the assessee for the delay in filing the appeal before Ld. CIT(A) shall constitute “sufficient cause”. On merits, we notice that the assessee gets support from the decision rendered by the jurisdictional High Court on the issues urged on merits. Hence, in the interest of substantial justice, we are of the view that the Ld. CIT(A) should have condoned the delay. Accordingly, we condone the delay of 161 days in filing appeal before Ld. CIT(A). Since the first appellate authority has not disposed the appeal on merits, we restore the issues urged on merits to his file for adjudicating it afresh.

8. In the result, the appeal filed by the assessee is treated as allowed for statistical purposes.

Order pronounced in the open court on 22nd Mar, 2021

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