“This is a fit case where this Assessing Officer should be saddled with substantial cost to drive home a message that this kind of attitude will not be tolerated ever”: Bombay HC in a case decided under faceless assessment scheme
Bombay HC has recently set aside the faceless assessment order on the following grounds:
1. Time given to the assessor to file response against the draft assessment order was only 1 day. Further, it was a time where lockdown was prevailing in the state due to the second wave of covid.
2. AO has not explained why such a short period was given to respond.
3. Draft assessment order mentioned total income to be assessed at Nil whereas final assessment order determined total taxable income at Rs. 53 crores.
The most important part is the observation of the court as under:.
1. The Assessing Officer could not care for the assessee and was not even conscious of what he was actually doing.
2. This is a pure form of harassment of the assessee, a taxpayer.
3. The entire approach smacks of high handedness and a don’t care attitude.
4. Matter to be placed before officers different from who passed the order.
5. In this case, the Department provides a link for uploading response to SCN/Draft assessment order within 1 week of uploading order-Assessee to file response within 2 weeks. Department to follow mandatory provision under section 144B of the Act to give notice of hearing to assessee at least a week before date of hearing along with copy of judicial precedent relied by department.
6. Final assessment order to be passed within 12weeks of the HC order.
7. This is a fit case where this Assessing Officer should be saddled with substantial costs to drive home a message that this kind of attitude will not be tolerated ever.
8. Directed AO to deposit Rs. 25,000/- to PM CARES FUND and provide affidavit along with bank statement.
Hopefully, the decisions like this are a step further in protecting taxpayer’s rights and ensuring accountability by department officials.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
ORDINARY ORIGINAL CIVIL JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION NO.2253 OF 2021
Gstaad Hotels Private Limited ….Petitioner
The Assessing Authority
National Faceless Assessment Centre, Delhi & Anr. ….Respondents