Case Law Details

Case Name : Shyam Cotsyn India Ltd. Vs ITO (ITAT Ahmedabad)
Appeal Number : ITA No. 1232/AHD/2016
Date of Judgement/Order : 01/06/2020
Related Assessment Year : 2008-09
Courts : All ITAT (7336) ITAT Ahmedabad (485)

Shyam Cotsyn India Ltd. Vs ITO (ITAT Ahmedabad)

Understatement of stock or unrecorded sale

If the assessee has overvalued its closing stock of the earlier assessment year which suggests that amount of profit was increased by that amount or the loss was decreased by the same amount of that assessment year. As such the effect of the closing stock of the earlier assessment year has already been given effect in that particular year which cannot be challenged in the year under consideration.

Under valuation of closing stock of Yarn

Regarding the under valuation of the closing stock, we note that the assessee has shown its opening quantity of stock at 68785 KGs valued at Rs. 45,40,197 showing the average cost of such opening stock at Rs. 66 per KG. The assessee during the year purchased the quantity of yarn at a higher value. As such the total quantity for the purchases of the yarn is 34964 whereas the total quantity of yarn sold/consumed during the year is 58902. Thus it is evident that the opening quantity of the stock was very much available in the closing quantity of the yarn shown by the assessee in its books of accounts. But the AO has not considered the opening value of the yarn stock while determining the closing value of the yarn as on 31 March 2012 which is not correct as per the valuation rules prescribed under the accounting standard as per the provisions of section 211 of the companies Act. All these facts can be verified from the order of the AO as recorded on page 7 of the assessment order. Accordingly, we are not convinced with the finding of the authorities below that the assessee has undervalued its closing stock.

Mismatch in the quantity of stock

it is the established practice that the opening stock of one year becomes the closing stock of another year. On this reasoning, we find that there is no impact on the income of the assessee over a period of time. Assuming, the assessee has shown less value of the closing stock in the year under consideration which will eventually become the opening stock of the subsequent year at the lesser value having no impact on the income of the assessee. We also note that none of the authorities below have given direction to revise the value of the opening stock of the subsequent year. Thus in the absence of such direction, addition made for the year under consideration will again be taxed in the subsequent assessment year which is not desirable as the same income should not be taxed twice under the provisions of the Act. In view of the above we are not convinced with the finding of the authorities below. Accordingly we set aside the order of the learned CIT (A) and direct the AO to delete the addition made by him. Hence the ground of appeal of the assessee is allowed.

understatement of stock or unrecorded sale

The issue in the instant case relates to the fact that the assessee has shown sales return in its books of accounts but failed to show the quantity of sales return in its stock register. Thus it was referred by the AO that the assessee has either undervalued its closing stock or sold the goods outside the books of accounts. The view taken by the AO was subsequently confirmed by the learned CIT (A).

Indeed, the onus lies on the assessee to justify based on the documentary evidence that the quantity of the sales return has been included in the stock register. But the assessee failed to justify the same before the authorities below including during the remand proceedings. At the time of hearing before us, a specific query was raised to the learned AR for the assessee to show us from the documentary evidence that the assessee has accounted for the inventory of the sales return in the stock register. But the learned AR failed to furnish any detail in support of his contention.

In the absence of documentary evidence and after considering the concurrent finding of the authorities below, we uphold the addition made by them (lower authorities). Accordingly, we dismiss the ground of appeal raised by the assessee.

Disallowances on account of shortage of stock-

The issue in the instant case relates to the fact that the assessee has shown losses in the production process amounting to Rs. 98,767/- but failed to file the supporting evidence. Thus the AO disregarded the loss claimed by the assessee. The view taken by the AO was subsequently confirmed by the learned CIT (A).

Indeed, the onus lies on the assessee to justify based on the documentary evidence that it has incurred the quantity loss during the manufacturing process. But the assessee has failed to justify the same before the authorities below including during the remand proceedings. At the time of hearing before us, the learned AR for the assessee failed to show us from the documentary evidence that the assessee has incurred such loss in the manufacturing process.

Thus in the absence of documentary evidence and after considering the concurrent finding of the authorities below, we uphold the addition made by them (lower authorities).

FULL TEXT OF THE ITAT JUDGEMENT

1. This appeal filed by the Assessee is directed against the order of the Ld. CIT(A)-8, Ahmedabad dated 15.02.2016 pertaining to A.Y. 2012-13.

2. The assessee has raised following grounds of appeal:

1. The learned CIT(A)-8 erred in upholding the action of the AO of making addition of Rs.70,45,751/-considering to be the excess deduction claimed by inflating value of opening Stock.

2. The learned CIT(A)-8 erred in upholding the action of the AO of making addition of Rs.73,62,762/- on account of undervaluation of closing stock of Yarn.

3. The learned CIT(A)-8 erred in upholding the action of the AO of making addition of Rs.26,38,836/- on account of understatement of closing stock and/or sales not recorded in the books of accounts.

4. The learned CIT(A)-8 erred in upholding the action of the AO of making disallowed Rs.98,767/- on account of shortage of stock.

3. The first issue raised by the assessee is that the learned CIT (A) erred in upholding the addition made by the AO for Rs. 70,45,751/- on account of over valuation of opening and closing stock.

4. The facts in brief are that the assessee is a public company and engaged in the business of Manufacturing of woolen carpets. The assessee for the year under consideration has filed its return of income declaring loss at Rs. 2,43,70,272/- only. The auditor in his audit report mentioned that the assessee for the year under consideration has over valued its closing stock by Rs. 53,62,469/- only. Similarly, the auditor in the audit report for the immediate preceding AY also mentioned that the assessee has over valued its closing by Rs. 1,24,08,220/- only which is the violation of Accounting Standard- 2 as notified under section 211 of the Companies Act 1956. Accordingly the auditor was of the opinion that the assessee has decreased its loss by the amount of Rs. 53,62,469 in the current year and by the amount of Rs. 1,24,08,220/- in the immediate preceding assessment year. Thus the Auditor qualified its Audit report.

5. The AO in view of the qualification made by the auditor concluded that the assessee has overvalued its opening stock and closing stock for the year under consideration which resulted increase in the loss of Rs. 70,45,751/- ( being difference of over valuation of opening and closing inventory of Rs. 1,24,08,220 – 53,62,469). The AO accordingly disallowed the loss and made the addition of Rs. 70,45,751/- to the total income of the assessee.

6. Aggrieved assessee preferred an appeal before the learned CIT (A).

7. The assessee before learned CIT (A) submitted that the auditor has valued the stock at sales price less GP margin whereas it has valued stock at cost or sale price whichever is lower. As such the stock was valued at sale price being lower than the cost. Therefore it has not violated AS-2 as well as not over valued its opening and closing stock. The assessee in support of its contention furnished stock valuation as on 31.03.2011 and 31.03.2102.

8. The learned CIT (A) after considering the submission and assessment order held that the assessee has not submitted documentary evidences to substantiate its valuation of stock but only made a superficial submission. Further the submission of the assessee were forwarded to the AO for remand report after verification of evidences but the assessee did not cooperate with the AO despite giving multiple opportunities. The learned CIT (A) in view of the above confirmed the order of the AO.

9. Being aggrieved by the order of the learned CIT (A) the assessee is in appeal before us.

10.The learned AR for the assessee before us filed a paper book running from pages 1 to 112 and submitted that the opening stock shown by the assessee was carried forward from the immediate preceding assessment year. As such closing stock of the immediate preceding assessment year became the opening stock for the year under consideration. Therefore, the opening stock cannot be disturbed without disturbing the closing stock of the immediate preceding assessment year.

11.The learned DR, on the contrary, vehemently supported the order of the authorities below.

12.We have heard the rival contentions of both the parties and perused the materials available on record. The addition made by the AO for Rs. 70,45,751/- represents the amount of opening stock which was overvalued in the manner as discussed above. It is the established practice that the closing stock of one year becomes the opening stock of the subsequent year. However if there is any defect in the opening stock which is representing the closing stock of the earlier assessment year cannot be disturbed in the year under consideration without disturbing the closing stock of the immediate preceding assessment year. The learned DR has not brought anything on record suggesting that the Revenue has revised the closing stock of the earlier assessment year.

13. It is also pertinent to note that if the assessee has overvalued its closing stock of the earlier assessment year which suggests that amount of profit was increased by that amount or the loss was decreased by the same amount of that assessment year. As such the effect of the closing stock of the earlier assessment year has already been given effect in that particular year which cannot be challenged in the year under consideration.

14. We also note that the assessee before the learned CIT (A) has contended that it has valued its closing stock at the market rate being lower than the cost as per the Accounting Standard 2 notified under the Companies Act, 1956. The assessee in this regard has also filed valuation report of its closing stock as on 31 March 2012 which is placed on pages 101 to 104 of the paper book which was also available before the learned authorities below. But none of the authority has pointed out any defect in such valuation report.

15. In view of the above we are not convinced with the finding of the authorities below. Accordingly, we set aside the order of the learned CIT (A) and direct the AO to delete the addition made by him. Hence the ground of appeal of the assessee is allowed.

16. The 2nd issue raised by the assessee is that the learned CIT (A) erred in confirming the addition of Rs. 73,62,762/- on account of under valuation of closing stock of Yarn.

17. The AO from the quantitative chart of Raw material filed by the assessee during the assessment proceedings observed that the assessee for the year under consideration has shown closing stock of Yarn 44848 kgs at Rs. 33,24,866/- ( Rs. 74.13 per kg.) whereas average cost of purchase of yarn for the year under consideration comes at Rs. 188.85/ kg. Therefore considering the average cost of purchases the closing stock of RM Yarn should have been valued at Rs. 84,69,545/-only. Accordingly the AO show caused the assessee purposing the addition of Rs. 51,44,679/- on account of under valuation of closing stock.

18. The assessee in response to such notice submitted that the quantitative statement of stock as 31-3-2012 includes Yarn as well as Fabrics. Accordingly the assessee filed fresh inventory register showing value of Raw Material at Rs. 77,30,035/- including Yarn weighing 18449 unit valued at Rs. 56,92,435/- as appearing in the balance sheet as on 31-3-2012.

19. The AO after considering the submission of assessee concluded that the assessee has not stated anything about balance unit of 26399 (i.e. 44848 – 18449) but filed a fresh statement showing the value of yarn at Rs. 56,92,435/-. The AO accordingly worked out the value of balance unit of yarn i.e. 26399 unit at Rs. 48,95,103/- @ of average cost of purchase of Yarn i.e. Rs. 188.85/ kg.

20. The AO besides the above also worked the undervaluation of the Yarn weighing 18449 unit by Rs. 23,67,569/- (56,92,435 value as per fresh submission – 33,24,866 value as per previous chart). Accordingly the AO made total addition of Rs. 73,62,761/- on account of under valuation of Yarn material to the total income of the assessee.

21. Aggrieved assessee preferred an appeal before learned CIT (A).

22. The assessee before the leaned CIT (A) submitted that the inventory for the yarn is inclusive of Raw materials, WIP, waste, ready to sale, stores and finished goods. Therefore, the cumulative quantity of the stock statement put together matches with the figures shown in the balance sheet.

23. However, the learned CIT (A) disregarded the contention of the assessee and confirmed the order of the AO by observing as under:

The appellant has tried to justify the valuation of raw material taken by him but has not submitted any material substance to support his claim. He has wrongly clubbed work in process and finished goods in the valuation of raw material and has wrongly shifted the stock to the raw material and has valued the same on the adhoc basis as mentioned by the AR in his submission dated 13.10.2015. In view of the casual approach of the appellant regarding valuation of different stocks (even the opening and closing stock is not valued properly as mentioned in foregoing paras on ground no.2), and in absence of any material on record to verify the claim of the appellant, I am of the view that AO is left with no other option than to take the difference of the details of ‘yarn’ showing the quantity of 44848kg, in the tabular chart and the quantity of 18449 shown in his written submission.

The AO has valued this difference of 26399 kg. of ‘yarn’ at the average cost of Rs.188.85 taken on the basis of the total purchases of ‘yarn’ during the FY. As the AO has worked out this difference from the information provided by the assessee himself and has valued on the basis of the rate of purchase also provided by the assessee himself, I find no reason to delete the addition. The appellant could not explain the discrepancies in quantity of raw material taken at the time of closing of the year and could not give any supporting evidence on the different kind of stocks and their quantity and rates. The information given in the chart form without supporting the same with the relevant material and evidence, the defense taken by the appellant cannot be accepted. In view of this discussion the addition made by the AO on account of under valuation of closing stock of raw material for Rs. 73,62,7621/- is confirmed and the ground of appeal on this point is dismissed.

24. Being aggrieved by the order of the learned CIT (A), the assessee is in appeal before us.

25. The learned AR before us reiterated the contentions made before the learned CIT (A) and drew our attention on page 103 of the paper book where the valuation of yarn was shown.

26. The learned AR alternatively also contended that in case the value of the closing stock is decided on the higher value then, the value of the opening stock of the subsequent year should also be enhanced accordingly.

27. On the other hand the learned DR vehemently supported the order of the authorities below.

28. We have heard the rival contentions of both the parties and perused the materials available on record. From the preceding discussion we note that the AO has made two additions. Firstly, for the under valuation of the closing stock amounting to Rs. 23,67,569/-and secondly mismatch in the quantity of closing stock amounting to Rs.48,95,103/-.

29. Regarding the under valuation of the closing stock, we note that the assessee has shown its opening quantity of stock at 68785 KGs valued at Rs. 45,40,197 showing the average cost of such opening stock at Rs. 66 per KG. The assessee during the year purchased the quantity of yarn at a higher value. As such the total quantity for the purchases of the yarn is 34964 whereas the total quantity of yarn sold/consumed during the year is 58902. Thus it is evident that the opening quantity of the stock was very much available in the closing quantity of the yarn shown by the assessee in its books of accounts. But the AO has not considered the opening value of the yarn stock while determining the closing value of the yarn as on 31 March 2012 which is not correct as per the valuation rules prescribed under the accounting standard as per the provisions of section 211 of the companies Act. All these facts can be verified from the order of the AO as recorded on page 7 of the assessment order. Accordingly, we are not convinced with the finding of the authorities below that the assessee has undervalued its closing stock.

30. Regarding the mismatch in the quantity of stock, we note that the assessee is maintaining the quantity of stock for the yarn in different categories such as raw material, P/c yarn on warping Beams, processes stock, wool dyed/ undyed stock which is matching with the balance sheet as evident from the details placed on page 103 of the paper book. All the necessary details were available before the authorities below and none of the authorities have pointed out any defect in such details.

31. Besides the above, it is the established practice that the opening stock of one year becomes the closing stock of another year. On this reasoning, we find that there is no impact on the income of the assessee over a period of time. Assuming, the assessee has shown less value of the closing stock in the year under consideration which will eventually become the opening stock of the subsequent year at the lesser value having no impact on the income of the assessee. We also note that none of the authorities below have given direction to revise the value of the opening stock of the subsequent year. Thus in the absence of such direction, addition made for the year under consideration will again be taxed in the subsequent assessment year which is not desirable as the same income should not be taxed twice under the provisions of the Act. In view of the above we are not convinced with the finding of the authorities below. Accordingly we set aside the order of the learned CIT (A) and direct the AO to delete the addition made by him. Hence the ground of appeal of the assessee is allowed.

32. Third issue raised by the assessee is that the learned CIT (A) erred in confirming the addition of Rs. 26,38,836/- on account of understatement of stock or unrecorded sale.

33. The assessee during the year under consideration has debited its sales account for Rs. 26,38,836/- on account of sales return. But the quantity of goods return was not added back to the inventory. Accordingly the AO show caused the assessee seeking clarification and purposing addition for the same on account of understatement of stock or unrecorded sale. But the assessee failed to reply or furnish any detail. Accordingly the AO added the same to the total income of the assessee.

34. Aggrieved assessee preferred an appeal before learned CIT (A).

35. The assessee before learned CIT (A) submitted that the closing stock of finished goods were shown after considering the quantity of the sales return. The assessee in support of its contention furnished a monthly stock movement detail of each category of stock.

36. The learned CIT (A) held that the chart submitted by the assessee is very casual and does not reflect the quantity of sales return. Accordingly, he forwarded the details filed by the assessee to the AO for the Remand report. The AO in his remand report submitted that the assessee has not furnished the necessary documentary evidence in support of its contention.

37. The learned CIT (A) after considering the submission of the assessee and the remand report of the AO confirmed the order of the AO by observing as under:

Even after providing more than required opportunity at the time of assessment proceedings and again at the time of appellate proceedings, the appellant could not explain his methodology of valuing his stocks which is done in a very casual manner without any supporting evidence as is evident from the findings in grounds of appeal no 2 & 3 also. In the light of these facts and circumstances, I have no basis to accept the submission of the appellant and confirm the addition made by the AO as he has rightly taken the view that ‘sales return’ has not been taken to the closing stock and income has been reduced by the same amount. Accordingly, this ground of appeal is dismissed.

38. Being aggrieved by the order of the learned CIT (A) the assessee is in appeal before us.

39. The learned AR before us submitted that the assessee has duly accounted the quantity of the sales return in its books of accounts. The learned AR in support of his contention drew our attention on page 105 of the paper book where the quantity for the sales return was shown.

40. On the other hand the learned DR vehemently supported the order of authorities below.

41. We have heard the rival contentions of both the parties and perused the material available on record before us. The issue in the instant case relates to the fact that the assessee has shown sales return in its books of accounts but failed to show the quantity of sales return in its stock register. Thus it was referred by the AO that the assessee has either undervalued its closing stock or sold the goods outside the books of accounts. The view taken by the AO was subsequently confirmed by the learned CIT (A).

42. Indeed, the onus lies on the assessee to justify based on the documentary evidence that the quantity of the sales return has been included in the stock register. But the assessee failed to justify the same before the authorities below including during the remand proceedings. At the time of hearing before us, a specific query was raised to the learned AR for the assessee to show us from the documentary evidence that the assessee has accounted for the inventory of the sales return in the stock register. But the learned AR failed to furnish any detail in support of his contention.

43. We have also perused the relevant pages of the paper book of the stock register but note that there was no such entry for the quantity of the sales return shown by the assessee.

44. Thus in the absence of documentary evidence and after considering the concurrent finding of the authorities below, we uphold the addition made by them (lower authorities). Accordingly, we dismiss the ground of appeal raised by the assessee.

45. The last issue raised by the assessee is that the learned CIT (A) erred in upholding the disallowances of Rs. 98,767/- on account of shortage of stock.

46. The assessee in its inventory register claimed shortage of its finished goods of “Carpet” of 30.39 Sqmtrs valued at Rs. 98767/-. The assessee in this respect submitted that it has been producing huge quantity of carpet. Hence such minor variation is normal in manufacturing process due to measurement calculation.

47. However the AO disagreed with the contention of the assessee and held that there is almost no possibility of shortage in the production of Woolen carpet as it is very easy to measure the quantity in this line of production. Accordingly the AO added Rs. 98,767 to the total income of the assessee.

48. Aggrieved assessee preferred an appeal to the learned CIT (A) who confirmed the addition made by the AO by observing as under:

The AO has given sufficient opportunity to explain the shortage so claimed valued based upon the average cost. But neither at the time of assessment proceedings nor at the time of appellate proceedings and also not at the time of remand proceedings, the appellant could give any acceptable reply for this shortage. The only response of the assessee at all stages is that such minor shortage is possible due to some minor variance while measuring and calculating during production and sales. In absence of any proper submission on the point, the AO has rightly added the amount of the shortage. In view of these facts the addition so made is confirmed and appeal on this ground is dismissed.

49. Being aggrieved by the order of the learned CIT (A) the assessee is in appeal before us.

50. The learned AR before us submitted that shortage of quantity in the production process is very normal in this line of business activity of the assessee. Accordingly the learned AR claimed to allow the deduction on account of such loss.

51. On the other hand the learned DR vehemently supported the order of authorities below.

52. We have heard the rival contentions of both the parties and perused the material available on record before us. The issue in the instant case relates to the fact that the assessee has shown losses in the production process amounting to Rs. 98,767/- but failed to file the supporting evidence. Thus the AO disregarded the loss claimed by the assessee. The view taken by the AO was subsequently confirmed by the learned CIT (A).

53. Indeed, the onus lies on the assessee to justify based on the documentary evidence that it has incurred the quantity loss during the manufacturing process. But the assessee has failed to justify the same before the authorities below including during the remand proceedings. At the time of hearing before us, the learned AR for the assessee failed to show us from the documentary evidence that the assessee has incurred such loss in the manufacturing process.

54. Thus in the absence of documentary evidence and after considering the concurrent finding of the authorities below, we uphold the addition made by them (lower authorities). Accordingly, we dismiss the ground of appeal raised by the assessee.

55. Before we part with the issue/appeal as discussed above, it is pertinent to note that the clause (c) of rule 34 of the Appellate Tribunal Rules 1963 requires the bench to make endeavour to pronounce the order within 60 days from the conclusion of the hearing. However the period of 60 days can be extended under exceptional circumstances but the same should not ordinarily be further extended beyond another 30 days. In simple words the total time available to the Bench is of 90 days upon the conclusion of the hearing.

However, during the prevailing circumstances where the entire world is facing the unprecedented challenge of Covid 2019 outbreak, resulting the lockdown in the country, the orders though substantially prepared but could not be pronounced for the unavoidable reasons within the maximum period of 90 days. In such circumstances we find that the Hon’ble Mumbai Tribunal in the case of JSW Limited Vs Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax in ITA No. 6103/MUM/2018 vide order dated 14-5-2020 extended the time for pronouncing the order within 90 days of time by observing as under:

9. Let us in this light revert to the prevailing situation in the country. On 24th March, 2020, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India took the bold step of imposing a nationwide lockdown, for 21 days, to prevent the spread of Covid 19 epidemic, and this lockdown was extended from time to time. As a matter of fact, even before this formal nationwide lockdown, the functioning of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal at Mumbai was severely restricted on account of lockdown by the Maharashtra Government, and on account of strict enforcement of health advisories with a view of checking spread of Covid 19. The epidemic situation in Mumbai being grave, there was not much of a relaxation in subsequent lockdowns also. In any case, there was unprecedented disruption of judicial wok all over the country. As a matter of fact, it has been such an unprecedented situation, causing disruption in the functioning of judicial machinery, that Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in an unprecedented order in the history of India and vide order dated 6.5.2020 read with order dated 23.3.2020, extended the limitation to exclude not only this lockdown period but also a few more days prior to, and after, the lockdown by observing that “In case the limitation has expired after 15.03.2020 then the period from 15.03.2020 till the date on which the lockdown is lifted in the jurisdictional area where the dispute lies or where the cause of action arises shall be extended for a period of 15 days after the lifting of lockdown”. Hon’ble Bombay High Court, in an order dated 15th April 2020, has, besides extending the validity of all interim orders, has also observed that, “It is also clarified that while calculating time for disposal of matters made time-bound by this Court, the period for which the order dated 26th March 2020 continues to operate shall be added and time shall stand extended accordingly”, and also observed that “arrangement continued by an order dated 26th March 2020 till 30th April 2020 shall continue further till 15th June 2020”. It has been an unprecedented situation not only in India but all over the world. Government of India has, vide notification dated 19th February 2020, taken the stand that, the coronavirus “should be considered a case of natural calamity and FMC (i.e. force majeure clause) maybe invoked, wherever considered appropriate, following the due procedure…”. The term ‘force majeure’ has been defined in Black’s Law Dictionary, as ‘an event or effect that can be neither anticipated nor controlled’ When such is the position, and it is officially so notified by the Government of India and the Covid-19 epidemic has been notified as a disaster under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, and also in the light of the discussions above, the period during which lockdown was in force can be anything but an “ordinary” period.

10. In the light of the above discussions, we are of the considered view that rather than taking a pedantic view of the rule requiring pronouncement of orders within 90 days, disregarding the important fact that the entire country was in lockdown, we should compute the period of 90 days by excluding at least the period during which the lockdown was in force. We must factor ground realities in mind while interpreting the time limit for the pronouncement of the order. Law is not brooding omnipotence in the sky. It is a pragmatic tool of the social order. The tenets of law being enacted on the basis of pragmatism, and that is how the law is required to interpreted. The interpretation so assigned by us is not only in consonance with the letter and spirit of rule 34(5) but is also a pragmatic approach at a time when a disaster, notified under the Disaster Management Act 2005, is causing unprecedented disruption in the functioning of our justice delivery system. Undoubtedly, in the case of Otters Club Vs DIT [(2017) 392 ITR 244 (Bom)], Hon’ble Bombay High Court did not approve an order being passed by the Tribunal beyond a period of 90 days, but then in the present situation Hon’ble Bombay High Court itself has, vide judgment dated 15th April 2020, held that directed “while calculating the time for disposal of matters made time-bound by this Court, the period for which the order dated 26th March 2020 continues to operate shall be added and time shall stand extended accordingly”. The extraordinary steps taken suo motu by Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court and Hon’ble Supreme Court also indicate that this period of lockdown cannot be treated as an ordinary period during which the normal time limits are to remain in force. In our considered view, even without the words “ordinarily”, in the light of the above analysis of the legal position, the period during which lockout was in force is to excluded for the purpose of time limits set out in rule 34(5) of the Appellate Tribunal Rules, 1963. Viewed thus, the exception, to 90-day timelimit for pronouncement of orders, inherent in rule 34(5)(c), with respect to the pronouncement of orders within ninety days, clearly comes into play in the present case. Of course, there is no, and there cannot be any, bar on the discretion of the benches to refix the matters for clarifications because of considerable time lag between the point of time when the hearing is concluded and the point of time when the order thereon is being finalized, but then, in our considered view, no such exercise was required to be carried out on the facts of this case.

11. To sum up, the appeal of the assessee is allowed, and appeal of the Assessing Officer is dismissed. Order pronounced under rule 34(4) of the Income Tax (Appellate Tribunal) Rules, 1962, by placing the details on the notice board.

Considering the above, we express to pronounce the order beyond the period of 90 days. Accordingly, we proceed to pronounce the order as on date.

56. In the result the appeal of the assessee partly allowed.

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