In the case of: Commissioner of Income Tax Vs. Williamson Tea (Assam) Ltd., Decided by:- High Court of Guwahati, Appeal No. 1029 of 2009, Decided on 28th October, 2009
Gist of decision:No provision similar to the provision enabling both the CIT(A) and the Tribunal to admit appeals presented beyond the period of limitation if they are satisfied that there was sufficient cause on the part of the appellant for not preferring the appeal within the period of limitation prescribed under the Act is framed in the context of appeals to the High Court under s. 260A.
Such conspicuous absence of a provision enabling the High Court to admit appeals presented beyond the stipulated period of limitation, is capable of leading to only one inference that the legislature clearly intended not to permit the reception of appeals by the High Court beyond the period of limitation prescribed under the Act. While the legislature clearly provided with a discretion in favour of the other appellate fora created under the Act to receive appeals presented beyond the period of limitation prescribed in the context of the appeals to such fora, Parliament was silent about such a discretion when it came to the appeals to the High Court. Such a silence is not an accident or a mistake but by a deliberate choice and design. The scheme of the IT Act insofar as it pertains to the appeals to various fora leads to the inference that Parliament did not intend to vest any discretion on the High Court to admit appeal presented beyond the period of limitation specified under the Act under s. 260A sub-s. (2)(a), i.e., 120 days. On a plain reading of the r. 3A of order 41 of CPC it is obvious that the rule does not provide for any legal authority to condone the delay in preferring the appeal but prescribes the procedure where an appeal is presented beyond the period of limitation. The underlying presumption under r. 3A is that the High Court entertaining the appeal under s. 100 or s. 96 of CPC or other Court entertaining appeals under s. 96 of CPC has the requisite legal authority of condoning the delay in presenting the appeal, a presumption based on the express language of s. 5 r/w Part II of the First Schedule to the Limitation Act. High Court has no power to condone delay beyond the period specified under s. 260A(2) i.e. 120 days.