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Netapp BV vs. The AAR (Delhi High Court)
August, 20th 2012

Mere filing of Return of Income disbars an advance ruling application

For AY 2009-10, the assessee filed a return on income u/s 139(1) on 31.3.2010. On 17.06.2010, it filed an application before the AAR seeking a ruling in respect of the transactions that had been entered into in that year. The AAR rejected the application on the ground that as the assessee had filed a ROI, the questions raised in the application were already pending before an income-tax authority and so the application was not maintainable under the proviso to s. 245R(2). The assessee filed a Writ petition contending that (a) the mere filing of a ROI did not mean that all possible questions were pending if the AO had not raised the issue and (b) as the AAR had in the past admitted applications even though ROIs were filed, it could not change its stand. HELD dismissing the Petition:

Upon a return of income being filed, the matter is pending, in the sense that the AO has the right to take such steps, including issuance of notice. The rationale for the bar in the Proviso to s. 245R(2) is that if the applicant wishes to plan its affairs and transactions in advance, it is free to do but once it proceeds to file a return, the AARs jurisdiction to entertain the application for advance ruling is taken away, because the AO would then be seized of the matter, and would possess a multitude of statutory powers to examine and rule on the return. The fact that in the past the AAR followed a different practice in the past is irrelevant because there is no estoppel against a statute.

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