Bombay HC criticizes IT Officials’ Attitude on processing Refund Claims [Read Judgment]

Delhi High Court - Commissioner - taxscan

In a recent decision, the Bombay High Court expressed its concern over the attitude of Income Tax Officials on prcessing the refund claims of the tax payers. The Court was considering a writ petition preferred by the assessee in connection with their refund claim.

The petitioners approached the High Court challenging the action of the Assessing Officer who is withholding the refund claim of the assessee without any valid reasons. When the assessee filed an application sought for refund of tax entitled to them for the year 2015-16.After repeated queries of the petitioners, the Assessing Officer informed that as per the Instruction No.1 of 2015 issued by the CBDT, empowers the assessing officer to exercise his discretion under Section 143(1D) of the Act in case of refund matters. The petitioners, in response, pointed out that the above circular was set aside by the Delhi High Court in the case of Tata Teleservices Ltd. Vs. Central Board of Direct Taxes &Anr. 

While allowing the writ petition, the High Court observed that the action of the officer on the ground urged seems to be in complete variance with the higher echelons of administration of the tax administration being an assessee friendly regime.The Court further referred the Instruction No.7/2012 of CBDT which directs the officials to process all returns in which refunds are payable expeditiously.

“In this case, the return was filed on 29th November, 2015, yet there is no reason why the Assessing Officer has not processed the refund and taken a decision to grant or not grant a refund under Section 143(1D) of the Act. This attitude on the part of the Assessing Officer leaves us with a feeling (not based on any evidence) that the Officers of the Revenue seem to believe that it is not enough for the assessee to please the deity (Income Tax Act) but the assessee must also please the priest (Income Tax Officer) before getting what is due to him under the Act. The officers of the State must ensure that their conduct does not give rise to the above feeling even remotely.”

While concluding, the Court emphasised that “Lastly, we must for the benefit of the Revenue reiterate that our powers under Article 226 of the Constitution are very wide for the purpose of doing justice. The powers of a Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India are not limited only to prerogative writs but also to issue any direction or order for doing justice. Therefore, Article 226(1) of the Constitution empowers the Court to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus,mandamus, certiorari or any of them”.

Read the full text of the Judgment below.