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Friday, April 6, 2012

Power under S. 220(1) proviso to reduce period for payment of tax to be exercised after application of mind & recording reasons


The AO passed a s. 143(3) order on 9.3.2012 raising a demand of Rs. 36.56 crores and directed the assessee to pay the entire demand within 7 days even though the period specified in 220(1) is 30 days. The assessee filed a stay application u/s 220(6) on 12.3. 2012 which was rejected on the ground that it did not fall within the guidelines framed in the CBDT’s instruction No.1914. issued by the CBDT. The assessee approached the CIT pointing that there was no justification to demand payment within 7 days while s. 220(1) granted 30 days and that as there was already aprovisional attachment, there was no determinant to the revenue. The CIT rejected the application and the AO attached the assessee’s mutual fund investments s. 226(3). The assessee filed a Writ Petition. HELD by the Court:

The Proviso to s. 220(1) which empowers the AO to demand payment within a period lesser than 30 days with the prior approval of the JCIT cannot be exercised casually and without due application of mind. The AO & JCIT must apply their mind on how it would be detrimental to the interests of the Revenue to allow the full period of 30 days and record reasons. The reasons & approval must be made available to the assessee if he seeks them. On facts, as there was already a provisional attachment u/s 281B attaching the assessee’s mutual funds to the extent of Rs.36.54 crores, there would have been no basis for forming the reason to believe that allowing the period of 30 days would be detrimental to the Revenue. Merely because the end of the financial year is approaching that cannot constitute a detriment to the Revenue. The detriment to the Revenue must be akin to a situation where the demand of the Revenue is liable to be defeated by an abuse of process by the assessee. There is absolutely no justification for the AO to demand payment in 7 days and his action is highhanded and contrary to law.

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