When the Constitution confers on the High Courts the power to give relief, it becomes the duty of the Courts to give such relief in appropriate cases and the Courts would be failing to perform their duty if relief is refused without adequate reasons: Supreme Court

When the Constitution confers on the High Courts the power to give relief, it becomes the duty of the Courts to give such relief in appropriate cases and the Courts would be failing to perform their duty if relief is refused without adequate reasons: Supreme Court

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When the Constitution confers on the High Courts the power to give relief, it becomes the duty of the Courts to give such relief in appropriate cases and the Courts would be failing to perform their duty if relief is refused without adequate reasons:

Supreme Court

 

There are various cases when the Hon’ble High Courts refused to exercise the jurisdiction under Article 226 for the reason that the alternative remedy is available or for the reason t hat the assessee would get an opportunity to present the case during subsequent proceeding. This mostly happens in the case of reassessment proceeding.
Recently, Supreme Court in the case of Vishal Ashwin Patel Vs ACIT Circle 25(3) & Ors vide its order dated 28th March 2022 has made some note worthy observation on Article 226 and power plus duty of the Hig Courts.
The issue was whether high court while deciding Writ Petition under Article 226 against Reassessment notice u/s 148 has held that when the Constitution confers on the High Courts the power to give relief it becomes the duty of the Courts to give such relief in appropriate cases and the Courts would be failing to perform their duty if relief is refused without adequate reasons.
The Supreme Court in this case was considering a non-speaking, cryptic and non reasoned order passed by the High Court where none of the grounds raised in the WP were dealt with in the order passed by the High Court.
Hon’ble SC observed that the Division Bench of the High Court has dismissed the writ petitions in a most casual manner which is unsustainable. Except stating that ‘we are not inclined to entertain writ petition’, nothing further has been stated by the High Court giving reasons for the disinclination to entertain the writ petitions. On these grounds the WP was allowed and the matter was remanded back to the High court for deciding the matter afresh.
This is one of those rare orders which can come to the rescue of the assessee in appropriate cases whenever WP is exercised under Article 226.
REPORTABLE 
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA 
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION 
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2200 OF 2022 
Vishal Ashwin Patel           ..Appellant (S) Versus 
Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax                ..Respondent (S) Circle 25(3) & Ors. 
With  
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2201 OF 2022 
With  
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2202 OF 2022 
With  
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2203 OF 2022 
J U D G M E N T  
M. R. Shah, J.
  1. Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned orders passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay in Writ Petitions Nos. 3209/2019, 3150/2019, 3208/2019 and 3137/2019, by which the Division Bench of the High Court has dismissed the said writ petitions in which the appellants herein – original writ petitioners challenged the reopening of the assessment/re­assessment proceedings, the   original   writ   petitioners   have   preferred   the   present appeals.
   
  1. We   have   heard   Shri   Devendra   Jain,   learned   counsel appearing on behalf of the respective appellants and Shri Balbir   Singh,   learned   ASG   appearing   on   behalf   of   the Revenue.   We   have   gone   through   the   respective   orders passed by the High Court dismissing the writ petitions. Having gone through the orders passed by the High Court dismissing the writ petitions, it can be seen that the said orders are cryptic, non­speaking and non­reasoned orders. The order dated 11.01.2022 reads as under: ­ 
“1. We are not inclined to entertain this petition. At the same time, the Assessing Officer who will be different from the officer who had pass the order dated 10th October, 2019 rejecting   the   objections   filed   by   petitioner   for   re­opening under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (the Act) shall permit petitioner to file further documents and case laws if adviced and also grant a personal hearing before passing the assessment order. The assessment order to be passed within 12 weeks from the date this order is uploaded. Petitioner shall be given atleast seven days advance notice about the date and time of the personal hearing. 
  1. The Assessing Officer shall deal with all the submissions made by petitioner including those raised in his objections to  the re­opening and pass detailed order in accordance with law. “
From the writ petitions produced on record, it appears that the reopening of the assessment under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act has been challenged on a number of grounds. None of the grounds raised in the writ petitions has been dealt with and/or considered by the High Court on merits. There is no discussion at all on any of the grounds raised in the writ petitions. The Division Bench of the High Court has dismissed the writ petitions in a most casual manner which is unsustainable. Except stating that ‘we  are  not   inclined  to   entertain   writ  petition’,  nothing further has been stated by the High Court giving reasons for the disinclination to entertain the writ petitions.  
2.1 The manner in which the High Court has dealt with and disposed   of   the   writ   petitions   without   passing   any reasoned order is not appreciated by this Court. When a number   of   issues/grounds   were   raised   in   the   writ petitions, it was the duty cast upon the court to deal with the same and thereafter, to pass a reasoned order. When the Constitution confers on the High Courts the power to give relief it becomes the duty of the Courts to give such relief in appropriate cases and the Courts would be failing to perform their duty if relief is refused without adequate reasons. 
       
2.2 The High Court in exercise of powers under Article 226 of the   Constitution   of   India   was   required   to   have independently   considered   whether   the   question   of reopening   of   the  assessment   could   be   raised   in  a  writ petition and if so, whether it was justified or not.  
2.3 While emphasising the necessity to pass a reasoned order, in   the   case   of  Central   Board   of   Trustees   Vs.   Indore Composite   Private   Limited,   (2018)   8   SCC   443,  it   is observed and held by this Court that the courts need to pass a reasoned order in every case which must contain the narration of the bare facts of the case of the parties to the lis, the issues arising in the case, the submissions urged by the parties, the legal principles applicable to the issues involved and the reasons in support of the findings on all the issues arising in the case and urged by the learned counsel for the parties in support of its conclusion.
It is further observed in the said decision that an order bereft of reasoning causes prejudice to the parties because it deprives them to know the reasons as to why one party has won and other has lost.  
2.4 In the recent decision in the case of Union Public Service Commission Vs. Bibhu Prasad Sarangi and Ors., (2021) 4 SCC 516, while emphasising the reasons to be given by the High Court while exercising powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, it is observed and held by this Court   that   the   reasons   constitute   the   soul   of   judicial decision and how Judges communicate in their judgment is a defining characteristic of judicial process since quality of justice brings legitimacy to the judiciary. It is further observed   that   though   statistics   of   disposal   of   cases   is important   of   higher   value   is   the   intrinsic   content   of judgment. It is further observed that in exercise of powers under   Article   226   the   courts   require   to   independently consider the issues involved.  
  1. Applying   the   law   laid   by   this   Court   in   the   aforesaid decisions to the facts of the case on hand and the manner in which the High Court has disposed of the writ petitions, in   the   interest   of   sobriety,   we   may   only   note   that   the orders are bereft of reasoning as diverse grounds were urged/raised   by   the   parties   which   ought   to   have   been examined by the High Court in the first place and a clear finding was required to be recorded upon analysing the relevant documents.  
  2. Since we cannot countenance the manner in which the orders have been passed by the High Court which has compelled us to remand the matter to the High Court for deciding the writ petitions afresh on merits, we do so in light of the aforesaid observations.  
  3. In light of the foregoing discussion, we allow the present appeals and set aside the impugned orders passed by the High Court and remand the matters to the Division Bench of the High Court for deciding the writ petitions afresh in accordance   with   law,   keeping   in   view   our   observations made  supra.  We,  however, make  it  clear  that   we  have refrained from making any observation on merits of the controversy,   having   formed   an   opinion   to   remand   the cases to the High Court only for the reasons mentioned above. The High Court would, therefore, decide the writ petitions, bearing in mind our observations made above, strictly in accordance with law.
With   the   above   directions,   the   present   appeals   are accordingly allowed and the impugned orders are set aside. The matters are remanded to the High Court as aforesaid. No costs.             
…………………………………J. 
                (M. R. SHAH) 
…………………………………J. 
 (B.V. NAGARATHNA) 
New Delhi,  
March 28th 2022. 

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