Ex-parte Order for want of Vakalat by Advocate violates Natural Justice Principle: ITAT recalls its Order [Read Order]

Ex-parte Order - Natural Justice - ITAT - Taxscan

The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), Guwahati has recently recalled its ex-parte order finding that it amounts to the violation of natural justice.

The hearing was fixed on 19.02.2018 where the representative of the assessee filed adjournment petition and requested to fix the case on 21.02.2018. On the said date, another lawyer appeared for the assessee without Vakalat and asked for an adjournment. The Tribunal rejected the request and proceeded to dispose of the appeals solely on the ground that no Vakalatnama had been filed in the name of the second lawyer. The assessee is aggrieved by this action of the Tribunal since according to it, they had authorized Shri Somnath Ghosh, Advocate to appear, and plead the appeals before the Tribunal.

Allowing the plea of the assessee, the Tribunal noted that though the assessee had in fact authorized Shri Somnath Ghosh to appear on behalf of the assessee. However, since the copy of the appeal could be given only a day before the case was listed for hearing, the Advocate could not be briefed by the Director of the assessee company because he was recovering from viral fever and also was infected with Pharyngitis.

“Prescription of the doctor has also been enclosed along with the adjournment application. So, according to us, there was reasonable cause for the assessee to seek an adjournment. However, in the impugned order the Tribunal taking note that no Vakalatnama in the name of Shri Somnath Ghosh was filed before it, the Tribunal took a view that Shri Somnath Ghosh, Advocate is not the AR of the assessee and, therefore, it proceeded ex parte qua the assessee. However, we note that the assessee company had authenticated that Shri Somnath Ghosh, Advocate is their AR and, therefore, we are of the opinion that due to confusion created because of non-filing of Vakalatnama had led to the impugned order being passed by the Tribunal. In the light of the facts and circumstances discussed above, we are of the opinion that there has been a violation of the principle of Natural Justice and, according to us, since the assessee had not been effectively heard/not-heard before the disposal of the appeal, we recall the impugned order of the Tribunal and the Registry is directed to fix all the aforementioned appeals that are restored in due course. Therefore, all the Misc. Applications of the assessee are allowed,” the Tribunal added.

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