Calcutta H.C : The petitioner-assessee till this date in spite of making application as far back on 28th Sept., 2000, under the prescribed form being No. 49A under the Act

High Court Of Calcutta

Chandrakant Kandlal Sheth vs. Union Of India & Ors.

Section 139A

Amitava Lala, J.

Writ Petn. No. 2434 of 2001

11th December, 2001

Counsel Appeared

R. Basak & B. Dutta, for the Petitioner : J.C. Saha, for the Respondents

JUDGMENT

AMITAVA LALA, J. :

This writ petition is made for not granting Permanent Account Number (PAN) under s. 139A of the IT Act, 1961, by the IT authority to the petitioner-assessee till this date in spite of making application as far back on 28th Sept., 2000, under the prescribed form being No. 49A under the Act. The grievance of the writ petitioner is that by reason of non-issuance of the PAN number and card, he is not only suffering his business and/or occupation but also his status in the society.

Learned counsel appearing for the IT authority contended before this Court that the matter has to be scrutinised by the authority which consumes time. Hence, it is suggested the entire writ petition can be treated as representation so that the authority can hear out, scrutinise and issue the PAN number and card.

On being heard I have come to know that there is no time-limit for issuing PAN number and card. According to me, it is essential for the IT authority to issue PAN number and card within a prescribed period. It is definitely a right of an assessee to have a PAN number and card when he is a taxpayer. Under such circumstances, delay in giving PAN number is as good as defeat of such right of an assessee as provided under Arts. 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. Sec. 139A of the IT Act, for providing PAN number to an assessee has been introduced by the Finance Act, 1995, w.e.f. 1st July, 1995. Sub-ss. (1), (1A), (2) and (3) under s. 139A of the Act provide to whom PAN numbers will be given. Such sub-sections are as follows : “(1) Every person,— (i) if his total income or the total income of any other person in respect of which he is assessable under this Act during any previous year exceeded the maximum amount which is not chargeable to income-tax ; or (ii) carrying on any business or profession whose total sales, turnover or gross receipts are or is likely to exceed five lakh rupees in any previous year ; or (iii) who is required to furnish a return of income under sub-s. (4A) of s. 139, and who has not been allotted a permanent account number shall, within such time, as may be prescribed, apply to the AO for the allotment of a permanent account number. (1A) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-s. (1), the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify, any class or classes of persons by whom tax is payable under this Act or any tax or duty is payable under any other law for the time being in force including importers and exporters whether any tax is payable by them or not and such persons shall, within such time as mentioned in that notification, apply to the AO for the allotment of a permanent account number. (2) The AO may also allot to any other person by whom tax is payable, a permanent account number. (3) Any person, not falling under sub-s. (1) or sub-s. (2), may apply to the AO for the allotment of a permanent account number and, thereupon, the AO shall allot a permanent account number to such person forthwith.”

4. Upon perusing the entire section, I find only sub-s. (3) is unchanged from the period of introduction in 1995. Such sub-section qualifying the earlier sub-sections to the extent of granting PAN numbers and that too forthwith. This part of the section is so exhaustive that the citizens having minimum level of status in the society are covered by the same. Therefore, if the intention of the legislature is to issue PAN numbers forthwith why there should be delay? If the word forthwith is only related to sub-s. (3) then what are the periods fixed for other categories? It took long six years from the introduction in 1995 to understand but neither the legislature gave a clear thought nor the administration suggested to provide rule, notification or circular to make it time bound. Now, it is a mode of identification of a citizen. Therefore, withholding such mark of identification is as good as violation of the right of a citizen. It is further surprising that neither in r. 114 of the IT Rules nor under Form No. 49A any provision is made for such purpose. Therefore, it cannot be avoided from saying that the authority is taking advantage of vagueness of legal sanction to suit their purpose. Hence, I hold that there should be a time bound programme for the purpose of issuance of PAN number and delivery of PAN card. However, to avoid the anomalous situation whether the word forthwith is applicable in all the sub-sections under s. 139A or not and upon making the observation the word forthwith has not been strictly followed by the authority, I construe three (3) months period is the maximum period for the same as the revenue-earning authority normally follows the period of one quarter of an year for the purpose of collection of tax, cess, fees, duties, etc. The period so fixed hereunder is notwithstanding the period fixed under sub-s. (3) of s. 139A of the Act.

5. Incidentally, it has to be observed that sometimes many mistakes are being caused in giving PAN numbers and cards which can only be detected after issuance. Therefore, the desire of the Court is accuracy should also be maintained by the authority in issuing PAN number and card within the prescribed period.

6. If the authority concerned finds that PAN number may not be given quickly, they will have to give the reason at the earliest to get it disposed of, so that the maximum time period so fixed by the Court cannot be frustrated. If one does so and allow the time to expire it will definitely be cause of judicial scrutiny. Therefore, taking into totality of the matter, I dispose of the writ petition by treating as on day’s list as “motion adjourned” by declaring that in case of issuance of PAN number and card the maximum period is three (3) months from the date of application.

There will be no order as to costs. Since no affidavit has been used by the respondents, allegations if any, contained in the application are deemed to have not admitted by them. Let xeroxed certified copy of this judgment be supplied to the parties by the Department within seven days from the date of putting in requisition for drawing up and completion of the order as well as the certified copy thereof.

[Citation : 255 ITR 407]

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