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I-T dept is acting perfunctorily: HC
April, 01st 2010

It has been a common complaint that revenue officials, under pressure to meet the fiscals target, tend to make irrational demand on tax payers. This high court order lends credence to such complaints.

The Bombay High Court, in its March 25 order on an insurance companys petition, came down heavily on the income-tax department, saying the department acted perfunctorily for recovering tax dues before the end of the fiscal. The insurance company in this case is Paramount Health Services, a third party administrator(TPA).

A division bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice JP Deodhar, quoting an earlier Bombay High Court order, observed: In a large number of matters, this court has been observing that orders are passed perfunctorily by the department only with an idea of effecting recovery before March 31, though such orders could have been passed in detail and after recording proper reasons.

In this case, the TPA had approached the commissioner (TDS), income-tax for stay on an income-tax demand for the assessment year 2010-11, 2009-10 and 2008-09. The commissioner stayed the demand for all these years except the demand of Rs 7.69 crore for the assessment year 2010-11.

The TPAs complaint to the court was that the commissioner (TDS) did not give any reason for not staying the demand for 2010-11, except saying that the plea of the assessee is not acceptable and the demands have to be realised for the current year.

The division bench believes the commissioner should have given a proper reasoning before rejecting the petition for staying the I-T demand. The high court said it had already laid down the parameters for deciding applications of stay, in the case of KEC International vs BR Balakrishnan, 2001.

Evidently, the commissioner of income tax is either ignorant of the law laid down by this court or has acted in breach of the principles enunciated in the judgement. In either view, the entire approach is thoroughly misconceived.

In the case of KEC International, the high court had recommended to the I-T department to give orders explaining in detail the reasons for arriving the decisions. Some of these parameters are: Order on stay applications should contain a summary of the assessees case.

And if the taxpayer is not looking for unconditional stay, the I-T authorities can ask for part depositing the I-T demand for which reasons should be given in the order. Besides, the I-T authorities should also give an indication to the financial soundness of the tax payer.

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