Faceless assessment does not take away the right to personal hearing: Delhi HC

Faceless assessment does not take away the right to personal hearing: Delhi HC

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Faceless assessment does not take away the right to personal hearing: Delhi HC

BHARAT ALUMINIUM COMPANY LTD (W.P.(C) 14528/2021 & CM APPL. 45702/2021)
Relevant provisions under faceless assessment pertaining to personal hearing:
1. Sec 144B (7)(viii)- The Chief Commissioner or the Director General, in charge of the Regional Faceless Assessment Centre, under which the concerned unit is set up, may approve the request for personal hearing referred to in clause (vii)
2. CBDT circular dated 23rd November, 2020:-
“Where any modification is proposed in the draft assessment order (DAO) issued by any AU and the Assessee or the authorized representative in his/her written response disputes the facts underlying the proposed modification and makes a request for a personal hearing, the CCIT ReAC may allow personal hearing through Video Conference, after considering the facts & circumstances of the case…..
3. So in light of these provisions, the question before the Hon Delhi HC was whether the Income Tax Authorities were bound to allow the request for personal hearing through video conference under faceless assessment scheme.
Hon Delhi HC held as under:
1. The word “may” used in Section 144B(viii) of the Act should be read as “must” or “shall” and requirement of giving an assessee a reasonable opportunity of personal hearing is mandatory.
2. The assessee has a vested right to personal hearing and the same has to be given, if an assessee asks for it.
3. The argument of the respondent/Revenue that personal hearing would be allowed only in such cases which involve disputed questions of fact is untenable as cases involving issues of law would also require a personal hearing.
4. In short, once the assessed demands the personal hearing, AU must give it to the assessee.
The above judgement would be relevant in numerous cases where the Assessment order is passed without giving an opportunity of personal hearing.

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