[Read Order] Gujrat High Court Directed to Extend The Due Dates
The All Gujrat Federation of Tax Consultants
Union of India
Facts of the Case:
By this writ application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the writ applicants have prayed for the following relief:
“The petitioners, therefore, prays that this Hon’ble Court is pleased to issue a writ of mandamus or a writ in the nature of mandamus or a writ of certiorari or a writ in the nature of certiorari or any other appropriate writ, direction or order and be pleased to
(a) direct the respondent No.2 henceforth not make any alternations in Forms and Utilities or changes in tax compliance requirements, after the beginning of the Assessment year in which the same are made applicable; providing the taxpayers and the tax practitioners a clear period of 183 and 214 days to prepare and submit the due reports and forms respectively.
(b) direct respondent No.2 to extend the due date for filing the Income Tax Returns (ITR) and Tax Audit Reports (TAR) for AY 2020-21 to 31.01.2021
(c) any other and further relief deemed just and proper be granted in the interest of justice.
(d) to provide for the cost of this petition.”
Observations of the Court:
Having heard the learned counsel appearing for the parties and having gone through the materials on record, we intend to keep this writ application pending and pass an interim order in the larger interest of justice.
In All Gujarat Federation of Tax Consultants (supra), a Coordinate Bench of this High Court had the occasion to consider an identical situation. We quote a few relevant observations made in the said judgement:
“38. We do not have very clear details as to what was the period made available for the receipt of the suggestion and consultation from the stakeholders and what was the extra time consumed by the Law Ministry for the purpose of vetting. However, without going into these details, when it could be noted that this change of utility and nonavailability of the new version till 20th August 2014 is the cause for the issue to have cropped up, the assesses cannot be put to the hardship nor can the professionals be made to rush only because the department chose to change the utility during the midyear.
The Decision of the Court:
We are of the view that the respondent No.1 – Union of India, Ministry of Finance should immediately look into the issue, more particularly, the representation dated 12th October 2020 at Annexure: I of the paper book (page 108) and take an appropriate decision at the earliest in accordance with the law. We, accordingly, direct respondent No.1 to do so. While taking an appropriate decision, the Union shall bear in mind the observations made by this High Court in the two above noted judgments, more particularly, the observations of the Supreme Court in the case of Vaghjibhai S. Bishnoi (supra) that the powers given to the CBDT are beneficial in nature to be exercised for the proper administration of fiscal law so that undue hardship may not be caused to the taxpayers. The purpose is of just, proper and efficient management of the work of assessment and the public interest. One additional aspect needs to be kept in mind before taking an appropriate decision that the time period for the officials of the tax department has been extended up to 31st March 2021 having regard to the current covid19 pandemic situation. If that be so, then some extension deserves to be considered in accordance with the law. Let an appropriate decision be taken by 12th January 2021.
22 Post this matter on 13th January 2021 on top of the Board.
23 Mr. Patel, the learned Senior Standing Counsel appearing for the respondents Nos. 2 and 3 shall apprise this Court of any decision or development in the matter on the next date of hearing.