Setback to Reliance Telecom: ITAT can’t Recall Its Order as remedy available to Assessee to prefer an Appeal before High Court if ITAT’s Order is erroneous, rules SC [Read Judgment]

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In a major setback to Reliance Telecom, the Supreme Court ruled that the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) cannot recall its order as a remedy available to Assessee to prefer an appeal before High Court if ITAT’s Order is erroneous.

A detailed order was passed by the ITAT when it passed an order on 06.09.2013, by which the ITAT held in favour of the Revenue. Therefore, the said order could not have been recalled by the Appellate Tribunal in the exercise of powers under Section 254(2) of the Act. If the Assessee was of the opinion that the order passed by the ITAT was erroneous, either on facts or in law, in that case, the only remedy available to the Assessee was to prefer the appeal before the High Court, which as such was already filed by the Assessee before the High Court, which the Assessee withdrew after the order passed by the ITAT dated 18.11.2016 recalling its earlier order dated 06.09.2013. Therefore, as such, the order passed by the ITAT recalling its earlier order dated 06.09.2013 which has been passed in exercise of powers under Section 254(2) of the Act is beyond the scope and ambit of the powers of the Appellate Tribunal conferred under Section 254 (2) of the Act. Therefore, the order passed by the ITAT dated 18.11.2016 recalling its earlier order dated 06.09.2013 is unsustainable, which ought to have been set aside by the High Court.

The division bench of Justice M.R.Shah and Justice B.V.Nagarathna ruled that merely because the Revenue might have in detail gone into the merits of the case before the ITAT and merely because the parties might have filed detailed submissions, it does not confer jurisdiction upon the ITAT to pass the order de hors Section 254(2) of the Act. As observed hereinabove, the powers under Section 254(2) of the Act are only to correct and/or rectify the mistake apparent from the record and not beyond that.

“Merits might have been decided erroneously and the ITAT had jurisdiction and within its powers it may pass an order recalling its earlier order which is an erroneous order, cannot be accepted. As observed hereinabove, if the order passed by the ITAT was erroneous on merits, in that case, the remedy available to the Assessee was to prefer an appeal before the High Court, which in fact was filed by the Assessee before the High Court, but later on the Assessee withdrew the same in the instant case,” the court observed.

“The Assessee had earlier preferred appeal/s before the High Court challenging the original order passed by the ITAT dated 06.09.2013, which the Assessee withdrew in view of the subsequent order passed by the ITAT dated 18.11.2016 recalling its earlier order dated 06.09.2013, we observe that if the Assessee/s prefers/prefer appeal/s before the High Court against the original order dated 06.09.2013 within a period of six weeks from today, the same may be decided and disposed of in accordance with law and on its/their own merits and without raising any objection with respect to limitation,” the court said.

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