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Vijay Television Private Limited vs. DRP (Madras High Court)
October, 28th 2014

Non-passing of draft assessment order after adjustments made by the TPO renders proceedings null & void

Under Section 144C(1) of the Act, with effect from 1st October 2009, the Assessing Officer has to mandatorily issue a draft assessment order if there is a proposed variation to the return which are prejudicial to the eligible assessee. The fact that the petitioner is an eligible assessee is not in dispute. While so, under Section 144C(2) of the Act, the eligible assessee has the option, either to accept the variation or to file their objections before the DRP and such option has to be exercised within 30 days. On such objections filed by the assessee, the DRP shall issue appropriate direction for the guidance of the assessing officer under Section 144C(5) of the Act.

It is only thereafter, the AO is bound to pass a final order of assessment in compliance with the directions issued by the DRP under Section 144C(3) of the Act. In the present case, without following the above mandatory procedures, the AO has passed the order of assessment on 26.03.2013 and subsequently issued a corrigendum on 15.04.2014 to rectify the mistake committed in passing the final order of assessment inter alia to treat it as a draft assessment order. This course of action adopted by the second respondent is contrary to the mandatory provisions contained in the Act and the corrigendum issued by the AO could not cure the defect.

The very fact that the assessing officer has signed the order of assessment and also assessed the amount payable by the assessee has become complete and it cannot be simply treated as a draft assessment order or it can be rectified by issuing the corrigendum. In fact, pursuant to the order of assessment under Section 143C, demand was also made for payment of the amount and such demand has not been withdrawn by the second respondent even after issuing the corrigendum. Even as per the website of the department, the demand made to the petitioner company continues till date and therefore, the final order as well as the corrigendum issued by the second respondent are vitiated by errors apparent on the face of the record and they are legally not sustainable.

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