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Alpine Electronics Asia Pte Ltd vs. DGIT (Delhi High Court)
January, 27th 2012
S. 147/292BB: Delay in issue of s. 143 (2) notice renders assessment invalid
 
The AO issued a notice u/s 148 to reopen the assessment. Though the assessee filed a ROI, the AO did not issue the s. 143(2) notice within the prescribed period but passed a draft assessment order u/s 144C. The Court had to consider (a) what is the effect of the failure to issue notice u/s 143(2) within the period stipulated in the proviso to clause (ii) and (b) the effect of s. 292BB of the Act. HELD by the Court quashing the assessment proceedings:

(i) The service of notice u/s 143(2) within the statutory time limit is mandatory and is not an inconsequential procedural requirement. Omission to issue notice u/s 143(2) is not curable and the requirement cannot be dispensed with. S. 143(2) is applicable to proceedings u/s 147 & 148. While the Proviso to s. 148 protects and grants liberty to the Revenue to serve notice u/s 143(2) before passing of the assessment order for returns furnished on or before 1.10.2005, in respect of returns filed pursuant to notice u/s 148 after 1.10.2005, it is mandatory to serve notice u/s 143(2) within the stipulated time limit (Hotel Blue Moon 321 ITR 362 (SC) referred).
 
(ii) S. 292BB incorporates the principle of estoppel and stipulates that an assessee who has appeared in any proceeding and co-operated in any enquiry relating to assessment or reassessment shall be deemed to be served with any notice which was required to be served and would be precluded from objecting that the notice was not served upon him or was served upon him in an improper manner or was not served upon him in time. However, the principle of estoppel does not apply if the assessee has raised objection in reply to the notice before completion of assessment or reassessment. As the AO had passed a draft assessment order and the assessee had raised an objection before completion of assessment, the estoppel in s. 292BB did not apply and the s. 147 proceedings could not continue
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