Directions given to the CBDT to extend the last date for e-filing of tax returns till 31-10-2015

Punjab and Haryana High Court: While deciding the
present case challenging the press release by the Union of India dated
09-09-2015, whereby it was notified that the last date for e-filing of tax
returns will not be extended beyond 30-09-2015 for the current assessment year for
certain category of assessees like companies, firms and individuals engaged in
proprietary business/profession etc. whose accounts are audited as per Section
44AB of the Income Tax (IT) Act, 1961, the Division Bench of A.K. Mittal and
Ramendra Jain, JJ.,  directed that the last
date for e- filing of returns to be extended till 31-10-2015 and appropriate
notifications be issued by the CBDT in this regard as per the provisions of
Section 119 of the IT Act, 1961. Further directions were given to the
respondents to ensure that the forms which are to be prescribed for the audit
report and for e-filing of returns should be made available on 1st April
of the assessment year.

The petitioners in
the present case failed to file their income tax returns on account of delay by
the respondents in notifying the prescribed income tax return forms for the
concerned categories of tax payers. The counsel for the petitioners, Hitesh
Kaplish contended that Form Nos. 4, 5 and 6 were available to the petitioners
during the month of August when it should have been available on 01-04-2015.
Therefore in such circumstances the last date for filing of e-returns by
30-09-2015 is unreasonable and should be extended. The counsel for the
respondents, Urvashi Dhugga, supporting the Government press release put forth
that, in the current assessment year only minor modifications have occurred in
Form Nos. 5, 6 and 7, thus there is no greater compliance burden on the tax
payers this year as compared to the earlier years. The revenue department
conceded before the Court that, since Forms 4, 5 and 6 were mandatorily
required to be e-filed; no assessee in these categories could have filed their
returns for the assessment year 2015-16 before 1st, 2nd and 7th of August 2015

The Court perused
the concerned provisions of the IT Act regarding assessment and observed that the
Board, under Section 119 of the IT Act, has specific powers to pass general or
special orders in respect of any case or class of cases by way of relaxing any
of the provisions (including Section 139) of the IT Act. The Board while
exercising such powers has to consider the issue of public interest and also
has to ensure the avoidance of genuine hardship in any particular case or class
of cases. Further the Court observed that, since the respondent did not dispute
that the Forms were not available on the very first day of the assessment year
as required, and also could not furnish any satisfactory justification for not
prescribing Forms 4, 5 and 6 prior to 1st, 2nd and 7th August, 2015, the plea
of the department that there were only minor changes in the Forms cannot be
termed as justified. [Vishal Garg v.Union of India, decided on 29.09.2015]
Source: Legal news India

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