Madras HC Nullifies Assessment Order Overlooking Assessee’s Plea for Virtual Hearing

Madras Hc Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: December 22, 2023 at 18:35 IST

In a recent ruling, the Madras High Court has invalidated an assessment order passed without considering the assessee’s request for a personal hearing conducted via video conference.

Justice S. Srimathy’s bench emphasized that since the assessment was of a high-pitched nature, the petitioner had sought a video conference hearing. Therefore, the failure to grant this opportunity was a clear violation of the principles of natural justice.

The petitioner, an agriculturist specializing in the cultivation of Gloriosa superba, known as the Karthigai Flower in the native language, appealed against the show cause notice issued by the respondent /department under Section 143(2) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

The notice directed the petitioner to respond by 6:00 p.m. on September 22, 2022, with only 18 hours provided, communicated via SMS at 8:15 p.m. on September 20, 2022.

Given the extensive content of the notice, the petitioner requested a three-day adjournment through the online portal, submitted on September 21, 2022. However, the respondent issued a final notice on September 22, 2022, under Section 142(1) of the Income Tax Act, directing the production of documents and explanations by the same day. The petitioner submitted the explanation before the deadline.

Residing in a village, the petitioner received a belated SMS and submitted explanations through the auditor for online portal notices.

Despite the valid request for a video conference hearing on September 22, 2022, the respondent passed the order on September 26, 2022, invoking Section 143(3) read with 144(b) of the Income Tax Act, 1971, without considering the request.

The court deemed the denial of a video conference hearing as a violation of natural justice principles and directed the respondents to grant the petitioner such a hearing.

The petitioner is required to submit certificates issued by the village administrative officer along with a translation copy, and the assessment must be completed within eight weeks.

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