National Faceless Assessment Centres: Know the Important Doctrines need to be followed as per Recent Court Verdicts

National Faceless Assessment Centres- Taxscan

Generally, all decisions of a High Court would be binding on a District Court or a Tribunal which is subject to supervisory jurisdiction of a particular High Court and the decisions of the Supreme Court are considered the law of the land. When a High Court or Supreme Court is faced with a judgement cited before it there are certain rules for maintaining uniformity in law and of precedents commonly known as the principle of stare decisis.

Here in this article we will be dealing with various Judicial Decisions passed by the Supreme Court, High Courts, and Tribunal in respect of National Faceless Assessment Centres which is binding on any subsequent Bench of lesser or coequal strength.

The Calcutta High Court in the case of Neeraja Rateria vs. National Faceless Appeal Centre Delhi quashed the Faceless Assessment order as password for Video Conferencing was not provided by the National Faceless Appeal Centre Delhi.

The court said, “the impugned assessment order has been passed in gross violation of principle of natural justice and is not tenable in the eye of law, accordingly the impugned assessment order dated 26th August, 2021 is quashed and all actions subsequent to the impugned assessment order are not sustainable in law and the same are also quashed.”

The Calcutta High Court in the case of Lexmark International (India) Private Limited vs. Union of India quashed the Faceless Assessment Order as it was passed without waiting for the direction to be made by the DRP. The court noted that the advocate appearing for the respondents is not in a position to defend and justify the action of the respondents of passing the impugned assessment order in disregard to the aforesaid circular of the CBDT and also the action of the respondent Assessing Officer concerned in passing the impugned assessment order without getting any instruction from the DRP within the time stipulated under the statute.

The Rajasthan High Court in the case of Aravali Shikshan Avum Anusandhan Sansthan vs. National E-Assessment Centre & Others stayed the operation of the Faceless Assessment Order which was passed without Show Cause Notice, and Draft Assessment Order. “Taking into consideration the assessment order dated 21.04.2021, the contentions of learned counsel for the petitioner prima facie appears to be correct accordingly. In the meanwhile, the effect and operation of the assessment order dated 21.04.2021 shall remain,” the Single Judge Bench while staying the Faceless Assessment Order observed.

The Delhi High Court in the case ofNaresh Kumar Goyal vs. National Faceless Assessment Centre quashed the Faceless Assessment order as no personal hearing was accorded in respect of the Show Cause Notice and Draft Assessment Order. The division bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Navin Chawla held that it was incumbent upon the respondent/revenue to accord a personal hearing to the petitioner. As noted above, several requests had been made for a personal hearing by the petitioner, none of which were dealt with by the respondent or revenue.

The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), Agra Bench in the case of M/s Mahadev Cold Storage vs. Jurisdictional Assessing Officer  ruled that the disallowance can not be made on the Late deposit of Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) and Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) if deposited before the due date of filing Income Tax Return (ITR).

In this case, the Assessing Officer made an addition of Rs.15,97,250/-on processing u/s. 143(1) on account of late deposit of employee contribution towards ESIC/EPF on account of late deposit of employee contribution towards ESIC/EPF. In view of the provisions of section 2(24)(x) read with section 36(I)(va) & section 43B of the Income Tax Act,1961, being a late deposit of employees contribution towards ESIC/EPF which has been duly deposited on or before the due date of filing of return of income as per the provisions under section 139(I) of The Income Tax Act 1961, employee contribution towards ESI and PF paid after the due date of the respective statue but before the filing of Income Tax return due date as per section 139 (1) are allowable expenses and cannot be disallowed under section 36 (l)(va). But the Assessing Officer without appreciating the legal position and facts of the case made the addition and the assessee preferred an appeal before the CIT (A) against the said order. And then the order has been passed by CIT(A), National Faceless Appeal Centre, Delhi. The CIT(A) NFAC also confirmed the addition of Rs.15,97,250/- and passed the order against the Assessee.

The ITAT held that NFAC is bound by the binding decision of the jurisdictional Allahabad High Court, as the assessing officer is situated within the territorial and subjective jurisdiction of the High Court.

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