Chhattisgarh H.C : the administrative Instruction No. 9 of 2004 issued by the CBDT is binding on the administrative officer in view of the statutory provision contained in s. 143(2) of the IT Act, 1961, which provided for limitation of 12 months for issuance of notice under s. 143(2) of the Act

High Court Of Chhattisgarh

DCIT vs. Sunita Finlease Ltd.

Section 119, 143(2)

Asst. Year 2005-06

Dhirendra Mishra & R.N. Chandrakar, JJ. Tax Case (Appeal) No. 21 of 2008

21st October, 2010

Counsel appeared :

Rajeev Shrivastava, for the Appellant : Ms. Smiti Sharma, for the Respondent

JUDGMENT

Dhirendra Mishra, J. :

The Revenue’s appeal under s. 260A of the IT Act, 1961 against the order of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal, Bilaspur Bench, Bilaspur (in short “the Tribunal”) has been admitted on the following substantial question of law :

“Whether the Tribunal was justified in holding that the administrative Instruction No. 9 of 2004 issued by the CBDT is binding on the administrative officer in view of the statutory provision contained in s. 143(2) of the IT Act, 1961, which provided for limitation of 12 months for issuance of notice under s. 143(2) of the Act ?”

2. Briefly stated, the facts of the case as projected in the memo of appeal, are that the assessee filed his return of income on 29th Oct., 2004 declaring total income at Rs. nil. The return was processed/assessed under s. 143(1) of the IT Act, 1961 (in short “the Act, 1961”) and the same was selected for scrutiny and assessment was completed on 15th Dec., 2006, on a total income of Rs. 41,26,844. A total sum of Rs. 27,12,120 was disallowed on the ground of excessive premium paid to key-man insurance policy out of an amount of Rs. 90,40,402.

3. The appeal preferred by the assessee was further dismissed by the CIT(A). However, the Tribunal accepting the submission of the assessee that scrutiny of the case has been done in violation of Instruction No. 9 of 2004 dt. 20th Sept., 2004 issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (for brevity “the Board”) allowed the appeal. It has been further held that the Board’s instructions are binding on all the Revenue authorities and therefore, selection for scrutiny of the case has not been done as per the Board’s instructions referred to, and the AO erred in assuming the jurisdiction under s. 143(2) of the Act in contravention of the Board’s instructions in completing the assessment under s. 144, which is bad in law.

4. Shri Rajeev Shrivastava, learned counsel for the Revenue, would argue that the directions contained in Instruction No. 9 of 2004 dt. 20th Sept., 2004 shall not defeat the provisions of law, which provides limitation of one year for scrutiny under s. 143(2) of the Act. Any guideline or instruction cannot supersede the provisions of the Act.

5. Placing reliance on the decision of the High Court of Kerala in the matter of CIT vs. Malayala Manorama & Co. Ltd. (1983) 33 CTR (Ker) 277 : (1983) 143 ITR 29 (Ker) it is argued that the Board’s circulars though binding on all revenue officers, cannot go against the provisions of the Act.

6. Further relying on the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Kerala Financial Corporation vs. CIT (1994) 119 CTR (SC) 164 : (1994) 210 ITR 129 (SC) it is submitted that the circular of the Board, relied upon by the Tribunal, was applicable to the returns for the current financial year 2004-05. The referred circular was applicable to selection of the cases for scrutiny of the returns for the financial year 2004-05 and the same was not applicable to scrutiny of the returns filed by the assessee on 29th Oct., 2004.

7. On the other hand, Ms. Smiti Sharma, learned counsel for the assessee, submits that it is settled law that the circulars issued by the Board under s. 119 of the Act are binding on all officers and employees employed in execution of the Act, even if they deviate from the provisions of the Act. The powers of the Board are wide enough to enable it to grant relaxation from the provisions of several sections enumerated in Chapter VIII. The only bar on the exercise of power is that it is not prejudicial to the assessee.

8. Reliance is placed on the decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in UCO Bank vs. CIT (1999) 154 CTR (SC) 88 : (1999) 237 ITR 889 (SC), Union of India vs. Azadi Bachao Andolan (2003) 184 CTR (SC) 450 : (2003) 263 ITR 706 (SC) and the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in CIT vs. Smt. Nayana P. Dedhia (2004) 192 CTR (AP) 526 : (2004) 270 ITR 572 (AP).

9. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the impugned order.

10. In CIT vs. Malayala Manorama & Co. Ltd. (1983) 33 CTR (Ker) 277 : (1983) 143 ITR 29 (Ker) the Kerala High Court while considering the scope of the CBDT circulars issued under s. 119 of the Act, held that certainly a circular issued by the Board would be binding on all officers and persons employed under s. 119 but no instruction or circular can go against the provisions of the Act. While the Board can relax the rigours of the law or grant relief which is not to be found in the terms of the statute, such circulars making for a just and fair administration of the law, no instruction which will be ultra vires the provisions of the statute could be issued.

11. In the matter of Kerala Financial Corporation (supra), the Supreme Court while dealing with the circulars issued by the Board under s. 119, observed that s. 119 empowers the Board to issue orders, instructions or directions for the proper administration of the Act or for such other purposes specified in sub-s. (2) of the section. Such an order, instruction or direction cannot override the provisions of the Act, that would be destructive of all the known principles of law as the same would really amount to giving power to a delegated authority to even amend the provision of law enacted by Parliament. Such a contention cannot seriously be even raised.

12. In the case of UCO Bank (supra), the Supreme Court dealing with the legal status of such circulars, observed thus (p. 896) : “Such instructions may be by way of relaxation of any of the provisions of the sections specified there or otherwise. The Board thus has power, inter alia, to tone down the rigour of the law and ensure a fair enforcement of its provisions, by issuing circulars in exercise of its statutory powers under s. 119 of the IT Act, which are binding on the authorities in the administration of the Act. Under s. 119(2)(a), however, the circulars as contemplated therein cannot be adverse to the assessee. Thus, the authority which wields the power for its own advantage under the Act is given the right to forgo the advantage when required to wield it in a manner it considers just by relaxing the rigour of the law or in other permissible manners as laid down in s. 119. The power is given for the purpose of just, proper and efficient management of the work of assessment and in public interest. It is a beneficial power given to the Board for proper administration of fiscal law so that undue hardship may not be caused to the assessee and the fiscal laws may be correctly applied. Hard cases which can be properly categorized as belonging to a class, can thus be given the benefit of relaxation of law by issuing circulars binding on the taxing authorities.”

13. In the matter of Smt. Nayana P. Dedhia (supra), the Andhra Pradesh Court held that these guidelines issued by the Board in exercise of powers in terms of s. 119 of the Act relaxing the rigours of law are binding on all the officers responsible for implementation of the Act and, therefore, bound to follow and observe any such orders, instructions and directions of the Board.

14. Direction by issuing instructions to the officers for the process of selection of cases for scrutiny of returns for a particular financial year and allowing time of three months for completion of the same can, by no stretch of imagination, be considered that it overrides or detracts from the provisions of the Act. It only directs that the above exercise should be completed within three months of the date of filing of return by the assessee, which amounts to relaxation to the assessee that the return filed by him can be scrutinized by the AO within three months of filing of the return.

15. So far as contention of the Revenue that Instruction No. 9 of 2004, dt. 20th Sept., 2004, is not applicable in the present case is concerned in view of the specific stipulation in the circular that “for returns filed during the current financial year 2004-05, the selection of cases for scrutiny will have to be completed within three months of the date of filing the returns” and considering that in the present case, the return has admittedly, been filed by the assessee on 29th Oct., 2004, i.e., during the current financial year 2004-05, we find no substance in the above contention.

16. For the aforesaid reasons, we decide the substantial question of law in favour of the assessee and against the Revenue. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

[Citation : 330 ITR 491]

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