Reason for an Order passed by a Quasi-Judicial Authority should not be supplemented by any Memorandum or Affidavit: Madras HC [Read Judgment]

Madras High Court

In a recent decision, the division bench of the Madras High Court held that an order passed by a Quasi-Judicial Authority should involve valid reasons. Such reasons cannot be explained subsequently through any memorandum or any form of affidavit. In the opinion of the Court, such an order is bad in law, and is liable to be quashed.

The grievance of the assessee was that the return filed by them during mid night of the due date was treated as “belated return” by the assessing authority. Though the assessee filed an application before the CBDT seeking condonation of delay of one day, the same was rejected.The assessee approached the High Court through writ petition for relief, in which the Single bench allowed the petition by quashing the order of CBDT and directed the Assessing Officer to consider the return on merits.Aggrieved with the order, the Revenue preferred a Writ Appeal before the division bench.

The bench comprising of Justice Nooty Ramamohana Rao and Justice Dr. Anita Sumanth noted that under Section 119 (2) (b) of the Income Tax Act, the CBDT has the discretion to admit of any claim which is made beyond the period specified for doing so and when once the discretion is conferred by a statute upon an authority, such a discretion is required to be exercised on sound lines.

“It is one of the important factors to be considered while dealing with an application seeking condonation of delay as to whether grave and irreparable injury or hardship will be caused to the person concerned and as to whether or not the interests of justice would be served better, in condoning the delay.”

“In the instant case, there is no dispute or denial of the fact that the Return of Income filed by the Respondent/Assessee for the Assessment Year 2010-11, has been uploaded sometime past 00.00 hours on 15.10.2010. One can take judicial notice of the fact that uploading of Return requires not only an effort but also consumes sometime. If the Assessee has encountered certain hardship or difficulty in uploading his return, as alleged by him due to a technical snags in the website of the Income Tax Department due to the last hour rush of filing of Returns, the delay deserves to be condoned.”

While upholding the order of the Single bench, the Court observed, “We are of the opinion that an order passed by an Administrative or Quasi-Judicial Authority must necessarily be tested for its validity with reference to the reasons assigned and found on record. The reasons cannot be supplemented subsequent to the passing of such an order by furnishing any other memorandum containing additional reasons or by way of explanations in the form of an affidavit. If such subsequent improvements are to be relied upon, an order which when originally passed, which might be infirm may pass off approval for the reasons which are not available on record initially. (“The second equally relevant matter is that when a statutory functionary makes an order based on certain grounds, its validity must be judged by the reasons so mentioned and cannot be supplemented by fresh reasons in the shape of affidavit or otherwise. Otherwise, an order bad in the beginning may, by the time it comes to court on account of a challenge, get validated by additional grounds later brought out.”

Read the full text of the Judgment below.