Aggrieved by the assessment order, petitioner filed the appeal before the tribunal vide ITA No.1442/Del/2014. The Tribunal, at the initial stage, that is on 31.03.2014 had granted stay of demand raised subsequent to assessment order. The stay was further extended vide order dated 19.09.2014. In the meanwhile appeal of the petitioner was listed for hearing but could not be taken-up for reasons not attributable to the petitioner and was further fixed for hearing on 13.04.2015.
Contention of Revenue-
Tribunal has no authority to extend the period of stay beyond a period of 365 days from the initial date of grant of stay in view of third proviso to section 254(2A). As 365 days would expire on 30.03.2015, the petitioner cannot approach the Tribunal for any further extension of stay
Contention of Assessee
The petitioner relied on writ petition seeking extension of stay and placed his reliance on several orders passed by the court whereby initial stay granted by the tribunal was extended in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.
Held by ITAT
Since the petitioner had already been granted conditional stay by the Tribunal in respect of the said appeal and that the Tribunal is in the midst of hearing the appeal, it would be in the interest of justice that the stay order granted by the Tribunal is continued till the disposal of the appeal by the Tribunal. In fact, it is settled law that there is no bar for grant of such a relief if the Court is of the opinion that the circumstances and the ends of justice so warrant.
Similar view was also expressed by Gujarat High Court in case of “DCIT vs Vodafone Essar Gujarat Limited. It was pronounced by the Hon’ble court that legislative intent seems to be very clear in third proviso to section 254(2A). However, the purpose and object of providing such time limit is required to be considered. The purpose and object of providing time limit as provided in section 254(2A) of the Act seems to be that after obtaining stay order, the assessee may not indulge into delay tactics and may not proceed further with the hearing of the appeal and may not misuse the grant of stay of demand. At the same time, duty is also cast upon the learned Tribunal to decide and dispose of such appeals in which there is a stay of demand, as early as possible and within the period prescribed under first proviso and second proviso to section 254(2A) of the Act of the Act i.e. within maximum period of 365 days. However, one cannot lost sight of the fact that there may be number of reasons due to which the learned Tribunal is not in a position to decide and dispose of the appeals within the maximum period of 365 days despite their best efforts. There cannot be a legislative intent to punish a person/ assessee though there is no fault of the assessee and/or appellant.