The amendments brought in the Finance Bill has empowered the Income-Tax (I-T) department to file about 12,000 appeals involving several thousand crores of rupees before the high courts, nullifying an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court. Two years ago, the apex court held that the high courts did not have powers to condone delays in filing appeals.
According to the amendment, the High Courts have powers to condone delays in filing appeals as per the section 260 A of the I-T Act. The amendment will be effected retrospectively from October 1998. Vispi T Patel of Vispi T Patel & Associates, a chartered accountant (CA)firm, said this amendment is in tune with the principles of natural justice and fair play.
The proposed amendment throws clarity on the issue and also paves the way for the I-T department to recover tax dues locked up in disputes, said a CA, requesting anonymity.
The amendment follows I-T departments application to the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Courts ruling last year which rejected over 700 appeals. Bombay High Court had cited the case of Hongo India Vs Commissioner of Customs & Excise while pronouncing its judgement.
The I-T rules stipulate that the appeals could be filed with High Courts 120 days after receiving the order of Income-tax Appellate Tribunal(ITAT). For such appeals, I-T department approaches the Commissioner of Income-Tax (Appeal), followed by ITAT.
Interestingly, although the Bombay High Court had declined condoning the delays, the Delhi High Court had condoned 30 such applications. According to Delhi High Court, Rule 3A introduced in section 260 A of the I-T Act is sufficient for high courts to condone such delays.